“In which our heroine breaks herself.”
In this episode, the mystery of the “Mother” AI is revealed. It is she, not the AI walking around with Dr. Saeki, who is actually Grace. Though to call the Mother AI “Grace” is somewhat missing the point: AIs develop and evolve around their mission. By having her mission change from “to save human life as a nursing AI” to “to ensure the Metal Float's survival for the sake of humankind,” she's basically suffered a death of personality. Her memories and experiences are now nothing but lifeless data, which is why the robots in the last episode adopt parts from her memory without understanding the nuance behind their actions. It's clear that her essence—her soul—has already been lost.
Moreover, this new mission of hers is a ticking time bomb all but designed to get humans killed as it puts the survival of Metal Float above that of human lives. It's implied that the human programmers assumed that her original nature as a nurse AI would prevent her from taking lives—and as we saw in the last episode, the robots do believe that peaceful coexistence is the best way to achieve their mission. However, when terrorists attempt to destroy the island—apparently armed with an AI-killing virus—it's no surprise that lethal force is used in the face of literal annihilation.
But while this all makes for a situation filled with drama, tragedy, and a jet bike action scene, what's far more interesting is how it affects Vivy and redefines the limits of AI in this fictional world.
The AIs in Vivy -Fluorite Eye's Song- are built around the simple idea that each AI can only have one mission. Now, it's important to note that this is not a rule imposed by humans, but a core principle behind all functioning AIs. An AI with two missions, even should they be something as simple as “do data entry” and “feed the baby when it cries,” is incapable of doing either task.
However, as we have seen so far, AIs who live complex enough lives are able to redefine how they interpret their mission, allowing them to act in ways only tangentially related to their original mission—like a life-keeper AI running a space hotel or becoming a human-killing terrorist.
Vivy, however, has changed more than most due to her age and experiences. In the last arc, we saw her install combat data that could possibly affect her ability to carry out her primary mission—to bring happiness to humans through singing. This episode, we see her put into words how she has been able to rationalize her actions: Vivy has given herself a second mission.
However, she has managed to prevent total breakdown by compartmentalizing her two missions; in other words, by defining herself as two different people. Diva is an AI who brings happiness through song. Vivy, on the other hand, is an AI who will destroy AIs to stop the robot apocalypse. When on a mission with Matsumoto, she is Vivy. When she is not, she is Diva. In the short term, this seperation seems to work. However, at the end of the episode, we see what happens when her actions as Vivy directly contradict her main mission as Diva.
Dr. Saeki is clearly mentally unstable. As a prominent AI researcher and one of the men who erased Grace's mission and gave her a new one, he should know that Grace can't simply be transferred into a new body as the AI she once was. Yet, without her, he has no reason to go on living. So he clings to an almost certainly false hope. However, Vivy takes that hope away from him, making him face the fact that Grace is gone, that she has been for a long time and that nothing could have brought her back. Finally giving into his despair, he takes his own life.
This means that, for the first time, a human has died as a direct result of Vivy's actions. Her two missions are now in conflict. Up until this point she had been able to justify her work with Matsumoto because it would save human lives—and only living people could be made happy by her songs. However, now, in her eyes, she has caused a human death—meaning she cannot ever make this person happy through her song. As she looks at her hands, one covered in AI “blood” and the other covered in human blood, Vivy realizes the AI-breaking truth. By succeeding in Vivy's primary mission, she has failed in Diva's.
How will she deal with this revelation? Not well, I would guess. But we'll see for sure when we pick up the story next week.
• Gotta love the modular Matsumoto jet bike.
• It's telling that Vivy can now tell the difference between “singing” and “tone data.” It means she finally understands what it means to put your heart into a song.
• The fact that Vivy has figured out how to not only give herself a second mission but also decide what that mission is is both amazing and terrifying.
• In the playground area, Dr. Saeki tries to tell Vivy that he will kill himself if she kills Grace, but she interrupts him.
• Honestly, I have little sympathy for Dr. Saeki. He basically helped kill the woman he loved because it was his job.
• From what little we see, it looks like Grace fully agreed to become the mother AI. And as AIs have something akin to human rights, that must be the case, right?
• Heartbreaking detail: Grace is smiling when Vivy kills her.
• It's clear that Yugo already knows that Vivy is Diva even before their meeting this episode so I can't help but wonder why Toak hasn't attacked her in Nialand yet.
• As Dr. Matsumoto in episode 1 looks like a man in his 50s, we've got to be meeting him sometime soon at this point, right?
Vivy -Fluorite Eye's Song- is currently streaming on Funimation.