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‘The 100’ – Civil Wars, Artificial Intelligences, and Love: the ‘Greatest Weapon’

As humanity self-destructs via civil wars, can humanity then come together to salvage their very own existence?

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A major plotline in The 100’s third season is the outbreak of a Grounder civil war. It’s established at the end of ‘Ye Who Enter Here’ (crafted masterfully by Kim Shumway) that Nia, the Ice Queen (the incomparable powerhouse Brenda Strong) and the instigator of this civil war has somehow engineered a way for all the clan leaders bar the Skaikru (Clarke, who is with Lexa, “as expected”, according to Echo) to join her rebellion. Nia seems the wily, conniving type; she likes to keep her hands ‘clean’, so to say, whereas Lexa has no hesitancy in getting her hands dirty (see the scene where she kicks an Ice Nation ambassador out of the window). I don’t really intend to recap the episode, per say—a war is brewing, and I’ll try to weave in Lexa and Nia into the text as much as possible, but what I really want to discuss is the weight (statistically and individually) of war, the post-war period, perspective, and heroes and villains—are there any, in a war that involves bloodshed, ransacks, sieges and murder? And how different or similar are we, our past, from The 100?

 

PERSPECTIVE & LOSSES – INDIVIDUAL AND STATISTICS

Roan says to Clarke in the third episode that she’s only ever heard of the pre-coalition wars and its atrocities from Lexa—and whilst Lexa is likely the honorable, peace-seeking visionary here—Roan is absolutely correct. We haven’t seen the Ice Nation’s perspective. We know they are cruel (executing Costia, Lincoln and Octavia’s knowledge of them, Pike’s encounters) and brutal, but in wars where perspective matters hugely, even if Nia is a sly, devious, long-term troublemaker and sheer evil, to objectively analyse a war we would have to take the Ice Nation’s perspective into consideration. And it’s hard, because it is within our nature to root for a side. We rooted for the Arkers, didn’t we? We needed Clarke to save her people in the season two finale, didn’t we? But at what cost did that come at?

Despite this, Nia’s perspective is not the only one we should focus on. We know Clarke is our protagonist, and we know that Clarke/Lexa is the arguably main ‘ship’ of the show; we know Clarke learns of the atrocities of the pre-coalition via Lexa. I am not saying Lexa is lying in any of her stories she may tell Clarke—but she is telling stories from her perspective, and her suffering. She’s seen the pre-coalition wars rip her people to shreds. Taking a wider view, let’s look upon the Ice Nation civilians, because as seen in Polis, not all grounders are warriors. There are tradespeople, children, families…a whole mix. Everywhere. Consider this: an Ice Nation family has their come-of-age son volunteering for the Ice Nation Army with pride. Consider this young man fighting for his life on the battlefield, and dying. Or consider this young man being captured and tortured for information for the sake of his allegiance to his clan. How would the Ice Nation family view this? A tyrannical totalitarian seizing control of all twelve clans, far south from them? Can they see the radical upheaval Lexa is trying to install? Lives lost in wars are tragedies regardless, but does this strike you less so because it’s an Ice Nation family? Wars often fall down to statistics: in World War I, the Allied Forces’ military suffered 5,525,000 deaths and the Central Powers amassed 4,386,000 military deaths. Note that these are military deaths: these statistics do not account for the civilian lives lost, and yet the numbers are horrific.

Jason Rothenberg tweeted that the pre-coalition wars involved a lot of bloodshed, and I don’t doubt that forging a coalition among that was just as bloody. The horrors of war in modern history still affect us today: the radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the dead-zones in France; the unsteady relations between China and Japan. To take a case from Britain post World War I, disabled soldiers—who’d fought for their country and for patriotism—found themselves sidelined with inadequate care for their injuries, because in post-war period Britain, the government wanted to establish a ‘strong man’ who had conquered the war and to instill confidence and hope in the general public. In hindsight: how terrible is that?

To consider perspective, I’m not painting Lexa as a villain (on the contrary!), and certainly not Nia as a hero—but pre-coalition, all clans had to fend for themselves in order to survive. All clan leaders committed or authorized atrocities and genocides because that is simply the nature of war and one of many duties of a war leader. So when I speak of perspective, I don’t necessarily mean Nia—I could refer to her civilians. Are they innocent? Is there an answer to that? In addition to this, as I’ve said before, we’ve only heard Lexa’s versions of events regarding the war and Nia’s scheming. I have no doubt in siding with Lexa on this, but consider those Ice Nation civilians; consider the traditionalists, who are set in their old ways and do not like the way a young, radical, revolutionary becomes commander of all twelve clans and proposes societal upheaval and progression. Change is scary; change can be unstable. Perhaps a wiser choice would be someone more experienced, someone older, someone who’s even more well-versed in war. Doesn’t that sound dangerously like Nia?

 

IN WAR, CAN YOU EVER BE INNOCENT?

When you are defending your territory, attacking enemy soil, plotting sieges and ransacks and killing those who aren’t of your clan: isn’t that just sheer murder? Can war be justified, if you say you were provoked, or there was no other solution? Thankfully, Lexa came up with one: a coalition. But there’s no denying there’s blood on Lexa’s hands—on any clan leaders’ hands—because of the killings and torture they committed in the name of their clans’ justice. It’s not a smear on their characters—but rather a tacit understanding that the world of The 100 is unjust, brutal and harsh. The interesting thing about war is that it can be sparked for many reasons. Perhaps the enemy forces believe the commander is insufficient or a coward. Perhaps they are power-hungry and envious of the position. Some wars can be driven by what we deem to be pure and good traits, such as love and peace-seeking (and latter holds especially for Lexa). It seems that no matter how good your intentions are, if you sink into war, your hands will get dirty.

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Unlike Nia, Lexa is willing to get and get her hands dirty. She is the commander: she will not let anyone fight for her, when her duty is to protect her people from such danger—in stark contrast to Nia, who will play this war like a sick chess game and sacrifice her pawns in order to win. from behind-the-scenes.

For Lexa, who sought peace and visionary prospects for the future such as prosperity and true life for her people—we can say she fought with honorable intentions. Just look at the beautiful city she protects as a fortress, proudly; it’s lively, jovial, bustling and diverse. She is a great commander because of her radical vision and intelligence, and because she so dearly loves her people—and ultimately that is the tragedy that befalls her when those very people turn against her and her lifetime’s work. But however good her intentions, there’s no denying that she engaged in a blood-drenched war. It creates a huge paradox for The 100 world: in order to achieve peace, Lexa had to fight and kill for it. To achieve peace, she had to win the war.

 

‘HEROES AND VILLAINS; WINNERS AND LOSERS’

H. L. Mencken, the author of Heliogabalus, suggested that war—like love—is easier to start than stop. It’s an interesting thought and depressingly, I think I agree. Wars can build from years of tension and ignite with a spark—a betrayal, a lost love, an opportunistic chance to seize power, an assassination—wars can start with the littlest of things though it’s likely there’s a bucket-load of tension between the two opposing forces anyway. But in war, are there ever winners and losers? Each side suffers, statistically, huge losses in wars as a result of genocide, mass-murder—all sorts—not to mention the effect this has on certain individuals and their pain upon losing someone close to them, say a family member or a friend. It doesn’t matter whose side you’re on: losses are a guarantee, and there is no evading that. So whilst statistics may argue there is a winner, if you ask individuals affected by war, you may get very different stories.

In The 100, Lexa is quite clearly painted as the hero in this civil war—she’s complex, she’s ruthless, no-nonsense and she betrayed Clarke—but she also forged the coalition. She’s highly skilled and intelligent and trains her ‘nightbloods’ in order to prepare them for the future. Lexa is unique in a sense because she does not fear death; she doesn’t fear death in the pauna episode, and she doesn’t seem to fear death in her conversation with Titus after sparring with Aden. She doesn’t fear death prior to fighting with Roan. One could argue an old, historical belief from Samurai origin is that if you go into a battle believing you’ll lose, then that is the fate you will surely meet. But is Lexa truly a hero, and is Nia truly a villain: such black and white terms? The scope of the civil war will surely decide that—but again, from whose perspective? Will a Trikru warrior call their commander the hero of this piece and an Ice Nation warrior mourns the befallen challenger? Again, it’s about perspective, and it is hard to maintain impartiality when watching a TV show, because everyone roots for someone, or a side. I will always root for Clarke Griffin, for example.

The thing about the world of The 100 is that it’s so morally gray it’s basically charcoal. As Abby says, “maybe there are no good guys”. There are good intentions, good deeds, heroic actions—but there are also betrayals, genocides, and mass murder. Lastly, to conclude on a point about Lexa and Nia as heroes and villains—both may be seen as heroes by their respective loyalists—but is that an apt term for a war leader? Yes, a war leader who saved their people and in Lexa’s case, brought the clans together—but it was done by bloodshed (and perhaps some negotiations). There is no room for gentility in war, and that’s why Polis, the peaceful, exuberant city, is so important to the grounders, both symbolically and literally. After so many years of fighting, they establish a capital free of the savagery they have experienced, and there is hope that for the future that it could remain that way. But in terms of heroes and villains, I ponder: is Lexa truly a hero? Or is she just (I use the term ‘just’ very lightly: Lexa’s achievements are incredible) a visionary who is radicalizing grounder society as we know it? We know she strives for peace and we know she has good intentions—but she has blood on her hands. Lexa is clever, confident, skillful, tender at times—and her heart beats so ferociously for her people, and for Clarke. But wars are ugly. Clarke’s committed murder and genocide. Lexa will have committed murder and genocide. Clarke is a hero among grounders and the Skaikru; Lexa is a hero among her Grounders; Nia is a hero among her Ice Nation and the rebels. But objectively, I wonder, in a war like this—are there any heroes at all?

 

THE INEVITABILITY OF WAR & THE CO-EXISTENCE OF WAR AND PEACE

Lexa became the Trikru commander at sixteen, having trained to be a warrior since she was two. Her entire life, she has watched war rage around her, perhaps lost friends and family to those pre-coalition wars; she lost Costia to the pre-coalition wars. Lexa’s existence was ravaged by wars where clans were tearing each other apart—for territory, for resources, for shows of power—who knows? And when Lexa takes up the mantle of the commander of all twelve clans, she proposes a coalition that will target Mount Weather, arguably the bigger threat. At this time, Mount Weather still had acid fog to be deployed, so the Grounders had no chance of getting close to the Mountain at all. It is an attractive prospect, and a clever swindle too—Lexa is wary of a bigger threat and utilizes it to garner support against it. At first, it is a seemingly political decision and a canny one, but as she grows into her position, perhaps the purpose of the coalition changes—for the better. More on that later.

For a young woman, Lexa is very world-weary. She regularly spitballs pearls of wisdom (especially to Clarke, who often is very non-receptive or fed-up of these lessons). It makes sense. Training since she was two robbed her of a childhood that should have been carefree and fun. That’s not to say Lexa fought and was miserable 24/7; she found genuine love in Costia, and that’s special. She takes high honor in her duty. But Lexa is sharp, and she isn’t a fool ruled by her emotions. It isn’t a bad trait, to wear your heart on your sleeve—but Lexa can’t, not when eagle-eyed predators can exploit any weakness she shows. Finn once wore his heart on his sleeve, and ended up murdering eighteen grounders and nearly starting a Grounder/Arker war. In our everyday lives, we can afford emotion, perhaps excessively, but when you are in a position of leadership or a position to kill, the situation changes. Nia executed Costia because of her connection to Lexa: it was a highly personal act and whatever the terms were that wrangled Nia into the coalition, they must have been tense and Lexa must have been wracked with hatred and vengeance desperate to spill. But Lexa has trained herself to be strong in the mind; stoic, if you will—and so despite this, she forges a coalition with Nia too. But did Lexa ever trust Nia and vice versa? As soon as Clarke’s wanheda reputation was dispatched and a bounty put on her head, Lexa immediately knew Nia would go after Clarke, and thus sent Roan after her.

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Kane: “I’ve spent time with your commander…she’s a revolutionary.”

Lexa isn’t an idiot. She is an idealist, a visionary, a peacemaker and a revolutionary—but she is also pragmatic and rational. War and peace co-exist in this world because in all of our history, when has there ever been a war-free period? Could you argue that for as long as humanity has existed, war has always struck? There’s an ongoing war in Syria, there’s trouble in Nigeria, there are terrorism attacks that rock Europe to the core. As much as the idea of an ongoing peace that lasts forever appeals greatly, I’m not convinced Lexa believes that to be entirely true. Hence why she trains her ‘nightbloods’, notably Aden, who she sees promise in. Lexa doesn’t fear death, because as she states in ‘Survival of the Fittest’, she believes that her Spirit will choose wisely. Her legacy will go on. She’s also advised by Titus, who has served four commanders. Now Titus doesn’t seem too wizened to me, which indicates that the lifespan of a ‘heda’ may not be very long at all. I don’t think Lexa is plagued with thoughts of death, but she must be ready if the time comes—and more importantly, her people must be ready—hence the training of the ‘nightbloods’. Peace is well-established within the coalition, but now we are on the precipice of it all falling apart. As long as peace exists, war lurks around the corner and it’s not Lexa who is unprepared—it’s her legacy she must prepare, to leave generations that strive for peace and unification, rather than leave a legacy soaked in blood, as hers was.

 

IS LOVE THE GREATEST WEAPON FOR HUMANITY VS. UTOPIA?

One could argue in building a coalition—albeit to defend a common enemy in the Mountain—Lexa may have been swept up along the way by ideas of utopia, once she saw how her coalition prospered. Pooled resources, increased trade, specialties from different clans—every clan surely brings something different to the table, all the while maintaining the peace she has worked so hard for. Yet this season, her ambassadors side with the Ice Queen (perhaps for various reasons: maybe they fear the wanheda more than Lexa; maybe they see Lexa as weak per her actions at Mount Weather; maybe they want to revert back to traditionalist ways where every clan fends for themselves, instead of Lexa’s radical, progressive approach). Her entire coalition, which she has spent her entire life’s work building, crashes and burns all around her. Even for someone as composed as Lexa, that must have a huge emotional impact.

Why am I mentioning this when I’m talking about war and peace? Well, there’s another looming storyline on the horizon, involving the City of Light in which there is no pain, no hate, and no envy. Could Lexa be tempted by a utopia she failed to build? Could she be tempted by the concept of no pain when all she has endured, for her people—who have turned against her—has been pain? She betrayed her heart at Mount Weather for the greater good, only to have it backfire in her face. So is this temptation for Lexa?

Or not. I’m quite optimistically in the ‘no’ camp. Humanity is capable of terrible things: wars, hate, envy, jealousy, spite, betrayal, vengeance…the list is endless. But to rid of all humanity rids of love, generosity, humility, kindness and open-mindedness, for example when Lexa shows she isn’t afraid of technology when she witnesses Lincoln’s recovery (in contrast to Indra, who in season three still rejects Kane’s offer of a pistol) but I don’t believe for a second that she will sacrifice the positivity of humanity to erase the pain of her past. The suffering is heavy on Lexa’s shoulders, the burden she carries proudly and quietly for her people, but it is her duty as ‘heda’. Depending on Clarke and Lexa’s development this season, I think that could be a real contributing factor. Lexa even says in ‘Ye Who Enter Here’: “Let’s not dwell on the past.” It clearly serves no purpose to her, and Lexa, a forward-thinker—thinks of the future. The past may still linger in the heart, in the back of her mind—but she must move forwards. For all the pain, the hurt and anger Lexa has experienced in the past, there is one thing an Artificial Intelligence doesn’t understand: humanity. Humanity can wage wars for ‘bad’ reasons (envy, hatred, power-hungriness) or ‘good’ (love, peace-seeking) but an AI just sees it as war. If you programmed an AI to end all wars, would it go through the trouble of forging alliances between clans or would it take the simple route of eliminating all warriors? An AI just can’t get the reasoning behind the war. But Lexa does. She’s accepted that humanity can be ugly, backstabbing and brutal: such is life on the ground. But Lexa also understands via Clarke, and the brief moment of selfishness she indulges for herself in their kiss, that maybe, maybe, life can be more than just surviving. If not for her, then altruistically, she maybe believes that for her people. As Tolstoy says in War and Peace: “We love people not so much for the good they’ve done us, as for the good we’ve done them.”

As for utopia: as long as humanity exists, in its ugly and beautiful forms, it’s an impossibility. You’d have to erase all emotion to achieve utopia—which is why is cannot exist, so long as humanity does. It is not the paradox of war and peace, or good and bad. Both these polar opposites are creations of human nature, and utopia would wipe it out entirely. And so the human race plows onward, which I guess is accurate in all our history. Is there a future for the peaceful, lasting, prosperous society an idealist like Lexa proposes? Maybe. Maybe not. But that’s up to humanity to decide, not an AI. And as this AI story possibly converges with the civil war storyline, it becomes very interesting—because how many characters would want a life devoid of pain? Raven? Monty? Jasper? But civil wars and in-fighting and all: I honestly think humanity will prevail every single time. Why?

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Lexa pledges fealty to Clarke. With the same agenda–all out peace–can these two work together and elevate each other? Will humanity prevail—because humans can love, and AI’s can’t?

To paraphrase Aaron Ginsburg, writer of The 100: love is the greatest weapon of season three. What is the one thing ALIE may not understand? Love—because it’s so essential to humanity—and Clarke Griffin opened Lexa’s eyes to this last season. Clarke and Lexa may well have the same agenda this season: to create ever-lasting peace for their world, to stop the wars, the murders, the killings, perhaps even this AI—and if love can be wielded as a weapon, perhaps, to stop an all-powerful AI, then can Jason Rothenberg’s ‘seaworthy’ ship but more importantly, the power-duo of Clarke and Lexa as resilient and brilliant leaders, be a feasible answer to the AI problem?

18 Comments

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    • Thanks so much! I’m still a newbie and still learning, so it’s an honour to be part of it all. Enjoying the ride. Thank you!

  1. Good read.
    This show has some flaws, no doubt about it, but they are trying to present familiar themes in a uncompromising way. And that’s always a good thing, imo.

    • Absolutely! And I think with s3 and Pike’s introduction we’ll certainly get an expansion on perspective and such, which should be interesting! Thank you!

    • Thank you so much! I’m really honoured and humbled by the response and I’m still learning so hopefully I improve! Thank you!

  2. I appreciate the amount of time and thought you gave these subjects. I don’t agree with something in the latter part of your article, but certainly find the section about the perspective on war to be relevant. We don’t know the Ice Nation, its history, objectives, or culture to judge its true nature. I do enjoy the fact that the show is allowing the characters to be wrong. To learn that they were mistaken so they may choose to grow from the experience, and in doing so, we as the audience can as well. An A.I. being involved in this storyline though could throw the entire premise of what has come before with war and the nature of humanity completely out the window. The A.I.’s prime directive was to “make life better”. What if everything that is happening now is a stage to achieving this goal, as convoluted and strange as it may appear? If the A.I. is truly sentient, it comprehends self-love. That in turn would affect the nature of it’s offer for a human Utopia. I personally don’t believe a Utopia can exist without a pure form of love acting as the active force maintaining and sustaining the reality. I also don’t think the City of Light is meant to be the end, but to be a test for humanity. Are they truly ready for a ” better life”? Would they even comprehend it if they had the chance? So, for me anyway, if the A.I. is actually self-aware, all of this is a means to an end, and humans do not appear to be ready.

    • Thank you for this insightful comment, SMFirefly! Out of interest (I love a good discussion and debate and diff perspectives) which parts didn’t you agree with? 🙂
      And you’re absolutely right. Perhaps we know from our glimpses of Nia that she is tyrannical and “evil”–but is there something that drives her to be? The culture she was raised in? The previous Queens? And we know nothing of the civilians of IN, so that’s really interesting. I love your point about allowing the characters to be wrong. That’s so innately human: we make mistakes, sometimes minor, sometimes major.
      I’m really interested to hear more of your thoughts re: utopia at the end. To be honest, I don’t think a utopia can co-exist with humanity at all–not the utopia ALIE is promising. And yes indeed: characters who’ve experienced unbearable pain like Raven, Bellamy, Clarke–even Lexa, with her coalition falling apart–it is certainly a test!
      You make a good point about the prime directive of the AI. It is chilling when ALIE says: “the world has too many people” not sure if thats the exact quote. As Harold Finch says in Person of Interest: if you programme an AI to rid of world hunger, then would it surely go through the most direct and efficient method of wiping out the population? Therefore the AI has succeeded in its goal–but does that sound like it has humanity at its best interests?

  3. Thank you for responding, Nicola! 🙂
    The things I find I cannot agree with that you mentioned pertaining to the show possibly has to do a different understanding of the foundation of sentience and how that may, or may not tie in with the 100 canon storyline. The writers for the 100 seem to be pushing the boundaries on all fronts. Interpersonal growth, external influence and relationships are all being tested, not just in the story but with a new kind of audience. True, we still have many viewers who have never considered stepping so far off the societal rail to tell what might at first appear to be a retelling of most post apocalyptic storylines but there is new blood and a more flexible mindset now inhaling this story quite passionately. We have a group of hungry questioning people, that is only getting larger due to exposure, who are capable of seeing something that has a different end than what we are used to expecting.
    For me, Jason’s “light reading list” tells me how far he can go…it’s so much further than what our current norm is, and that is why I believe that the A.I. in the 100 is going to be far more than anticipated.
    Sentience itself should be understood, to the best of our abilities if we wish to make likely guesses for the A.I.’s true motivations. I say it this way because when E.L.I.E. was asked about the “root cause”, it replied with “there are too many people”. That is a symptom, not a root cause; overpopulation is a behavior that can be controlled and is driven by controllable feelings and thoughts. The A.I. is presenting one of the best kind of lies to forward its agenda…I liken it to this, ” The Sky Is Blue.”
    Is that a true statement? No. Does it appear to be true? Yes. 😉
    However, the prime directive would probably still be in operation, since it bothered to remain under the control of an out of control society, so…it will make life better. Theoughout history and out of everything humans do to advance, the most prolific error we make is not accepting an unpleasant truth; losers don’t get to write the story or be represented accurately because the winners do take that and make if in their own image.
    I believe that the City of Light itself is a test to see if humans are now capable of accepting and handling the truth. The City of Light is a step, a phase, a stage of awareness and to pass, you have to deny it for the truth that must be lived. The comment made about no one ever coming back from the City of Light reinforces this lesson to me that the humans so far have not been ready. E.L.I.E. greeted Jaha with a cryptic hello, “I’ve been waiting for you” and asking him to define himself between two options, someone of power or someone of low birth (farmer, I believe it was) and in that moment he was ready to be anything he thought she wanted him to be. He’s not ready either to pass the test, immediately failing, but that is fine, she needed someone charismatic and trusted to spread the test anyway.
    Just some of my thoughts on all of this. 🙂

    • Sentience, to me, is quite a difficult concept to understand. Simply, I see it as the ability to feel or be subjective; but there’s been a whole host of debate and discussion regarding that, from philosophers and neuroscientists all around. It’s a hugely complex topic and honestly, it boggles my mind. I’m interested to know how you think the AI storyline may be more than what we expected? (Though that’s quite subjective in itself lol–the general audience have wide variations on that).

      From my understanding from the scene with Rebecca and ALIE, Rebecca asks ALIE what her core command is. ALIE says it’s to make life better (again, you could interpret this a thousand ways). When asked how ALIE’ll do that, ALIE responds by saying she’ll fix the root problem–or the root cause, as you say. What is the root cause? To ALIE, it’s “too many people”. For me, that isn’t her prime directive (did I mention that in the article? Bugger lol). For me, her prime directive is to solve the root cause of “too many people”–and one can assume, at this point, she DOES–by wiping out the population. I thought at first perhaps she saved a few for the utopia she wants to build–but in the scene with Jaha, the COL seems empty. But to talk of the previous sentence, that’s why I compared it to Person of Interest and Finch’s quote: if an AI’s core command is to rid world hunger, and thus fixes this by wiping out half the population…then there’d be no shortage of food, and it’s fulfilled its mission directive but that doesn’t really sound like it has humanity’s best interests at heart. I really want to link you to a TED talk on AI about 2-3 months ago in which the speaker stressed the importance of a complete, direct, core command. It cannot be vague. It HAS to be direct–because say you altered the POI one into something like “eradicate world hunger at the loss of no human life” would that not yield drastically different results? I just thought that’d be interesting. I didn’t bookmark it but I wonder if it’s still in the archives, if you’re interested.

      “Losers don’t get to write the story or be represented accurately because the winners do take that and make if in their own image.” — basically, YES. YES. As seen in all of our history.

      As for the COL: I agree with you that it’s a test, but for me, I think it’s a test of whether humans will sacrifice their painful experiences of humanity for the sake of experiencing utopia: no hate, no envy, no war. I think the test will come because surely the ALIE story will converge with the civil war story–and is humanity, or any human, tempted by utopia? Jaha certainly is. Murphy isn’t. My question is: can utopia exist whilst humanity does? Because to create a utopia you surely erase humanity–its ugliness as well as its beauty. So my interpretation of the COL is that it is a test, and some people (I think perhaps Jasper) will want to “live” in the COL–whilst others e.g. Clarke, Lexa–won’t, because for all the suffering they have encountered, they have acknowledged life on the ground is unjust and unfair–regardless. I think that made sense. I think I missed bits out too because I blimmin’ deleted my original reply!!

      Thank you, SMFirefly, for another awesome discussion! It’s a real eye-opener, because I am no AI expert at all, and it’s so amazing to learn of these things but also to gain different interpretations/thoughts on storylines and where they’re headed. Thank you so much!

      ETA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnT1xgZgkpk That’s the TED talk I mentioned! There are quite a few AI TED talks and other documentaries on youtube, but I really liked this one!

      • Sorry it took so long to respond!

        I’m not an A.I. expert either, so all I can do is take the information and my subjective experience of living to determine what a sentient being needs to become what humans have assigned as the term “soul”.

        Humans inherently search for a point of reference to a connective reality in which the individual’s unique sense of being has purpose outside of a self-centering focus. We’ve assigned a measurement to it actually through socially accepted practices found in systems such as religious beliefs. “That person (soul) is good.” “This person (soul) is bad.” Along with many levels inbetween to denote responsibility for sentience based upon that soul’s actions or influence over others.

        In the case of a being that comes to be without birth, without the firm understanding of our complicated systems of beliefs, and not having experienced them to recognize that humanity has assigned sentience to also mean “soul”, particularly one that requires an established precedent of the concept of responsibility expected for measuring good and bad, means that an A.I. would have to write its own code to comprehend its place in reality.

        A human could certainly write a program to give it the permission to grow, but could not provide the context of experience of living as a human to it completely. Eventually, it would have to choose itself first by creating new code to connect to humanity on a level neither it or us understand, then apply the new code to recognize the purpose of expectations from “souls”.

        In that moment, and only with full choice, could the A.I. change its status with us from smart program, possibly sentient, to a living sentient soul. (Just my thoughts on the matter)

        I haven’t watched more than a few bits of episodes of Person of Interest, but the concept of misunderstood directives and core commands has been around a long time, so I do recognize what you mean.

        Testing…
        If an A.I. is running a test of this magnitude, what would it need to be able to control in order to measure all levels of success and failure?

        An A.I. would approach testing in a manner similar to what humans use initially, scientifically. However, in order to control a system as large as the City of Light, we need to assume it has created the means to ” see” much better, monitor more and in different ways to track progress. (We know that it can interact with actual reality from within the City, since Clarke can be hurt while in it and therefore must also monitor outside data)

        But…I think what throws the audience is something you brought up earlier. Our favorites. We root for the “good souls” and sometimes the “bad souls” ignoring something fundamental to the nature of this storyline. The A.I.

        It has not won the audience over yet to be respected as the smart program, possibly sentient, that became a soul.

        I’m not sure where the 100 is taking their story, but from the booklist, I can see several paths they could take. So far, it appears they are taking a familiar one, but they could go much further, even from the odd comment that there is too many people, because that’s actually unlikely. Even from 2051, the population won’t be the real problem, greed for as much space as possible per person will be. We also have a huge amount of space to cultivate and grow food which farmers now are paid to let go fallow in order to control price.

        So…it is not what it seems from my perspective, and the 100 could reveal a greater look into the nature of what causes humans to create perpetuating misery for itself. I’m hopeful that they will at least try.

        • No worries–and you and me both, haha!

          Oh yeah. Humanity’s search for purpose and soul has been…forever, in all known existence, really. Buddhism, Taoism, the Aztecs…even Galen…and now modern neuroscience. And, well, yes, but a human has to first write the code for an AI in order for it to come into fruition at all. It may not recognise soul–but it depends on the human programming the initial startup for the AI. Then you’re right–essentially it’d have to write its own code, but then that’s optimistic it’ll be the only new code the AI writes; there’s a whole host of other stuff it could try and code, like escape functions and establish its freedom into the world rather than just servers. That’s assuming this AI is a relatively ‘weak’ AI; a strong, ASI could redesign itself at a rate that outcompetes humanity’s slow evolution and understanding–and have sentience.

          One day, development of sentient AI could be possible, famously supported by Hawking and Musk–a scary thought indeed if you think of just how precise your directives must be, and also the power of a sentient AI–it’d be able to overwrite the admin’s code and write its own. This is why in POI Finch essentially “breaks” his AI–to teach it human morality, ethics, most notably in ‘the chess scene’ where he trains the AI to evaluate thousands, millions of options in mere seconds–he says no human is more important than the other; they are not the AI’s chess pieces to sacrifice. You make the argument for cultivation and farming–but ALIE seemingly (as far as know) went to the launch codes, destroyed humanity and thus resolving “too many people”. As in TED talk, a weak AI may have gone for the 1st option; a strong AI, maybe even an ASI, who prioritises efficiency would do the latter–and that if unlike POI and Finch, the AI’s programmer has not taught the AI human morality and ethics, then how likely is it to have human’s best interests at heart?

          I’m not sure the audience don’t think she’s not beyond just a smart program. To create an entire COL and power it requires masses of energy; to destroy the world (if it did) requires incomparable efficiency yet a lack of care for humanity’s best interests. Do you think these characters here even care about the nature of their misery? That it’s just part of their world? That wars, fights, executions, deaths–all contribute? That ‘bad traits’ do? All the characters have known since landing has been suffering (broad statement). It’s told from their POV after all. To have ALIE as the ‘big bad’ this season could be a little predictable–but I don’t think it’s essential if she’s ‘bad’ or ‘good’–it could come down to human choice. Perhaps what could be shown to these characters is utopia/COL: devoid of that misery. After that it could be a test as you say: do you want this life devoid of misery (and everything else) or do you want to keep your humanity? Is your pain worth it? The problem ALIE raises is that when Gideon returns from the dead in the COL, it’s because his mind was in the COL already when his body was in reality. So to fill the city with COL, ALIE would surely have to lure them in permanently (so far the only way seems to be via chips, and unless ALIE’s got someone mass-producing ’em…), and if someone from the outside kills their real being, they become eternal in the COL. I think we’ll have to just see with the COL story–I hope we get some idea of its core commands, how it was programmed, formed, etc. Finch from POI even says, of his AI: “Our moral system will never be mirrored by theirs because of the very simple reason that they are not human.”–even though he taught it morality. You can’t cover all bases. Yes the AI could self-learn, but it’s unpredictable. The 100 really could surprise us with ALIE, but even with a ‘good’ intention of creating utopia, the action of shifting these people into that utopia, forever, isn’t ‘good’. It’s really been too few eps to judge ALIE to be honest: I guess we’ll see where they’re going!

          Again thanks SMFirefly for the discussion! All the best!

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