Cold Embrace: Methodology and Character Gallery 01

Comiket 2008, dunno the circle

Comiket 2008, dunno the circle

When the idea for a ‘droid ethics/geek culture deconstruction story came to me, I immediately ran up against the first of many problems: it would be impossible, for me at least, to simply sit down and start typing out the first scene.

All stories are character-dependent, but CE seems to have developed to be especially so. It isn’t just another run-of-the-mill scifi, like I usually write and abandon, showcasing the glitz and glamour of technology. It can’t be. A story that deals with technology as a crutch, technology as a tool, the pursuit of companionship, intrinsic worth, morality of tool-use, the tendency to anthropomorphize the inhuman… well, yeah. Before I write a word of what happened to make the book’s universe so fucked up, I need to dive into my characters’ heads first.

Of course, some of that’s been done just by the story’s intrinsic framework, as I currently see it. First, this isn’t going to be a morality tale. No sides, no heroes… no villains either. Second, this isn’t going to have a happy ending for anybody, much less the nominal Innocents of the story. Stories are an emulation of life, and life itself doesn’t have a happy ending – it either goes on, or it just plain ends.

They’ll all be human, even the ones that aren’t.

Some are, however, more suspicious than others.

Masato Kuroki

Age: 53

Sex: Male

Occupation: Izanagi Robotics – Chief Executive Officer

Appearance: A middle-aged Japanese man, still maintaining an athletic physique despite a shock of gray going through his swept-back hair. One black eye, one milky, due to a manufacturing accident on an inspection tour of a facility during the early days of his career. Fairly tall at 178cm.

Personality: Sarcastic, harsh and eerily well-informed.

History: He started off as a robotics protege and quickly caught the industry’s attention as he won prize after prize throughout high school and college. By the time he attained his professorship at Caltech, at the relatively youthful age of 31, he had made a name for himself as the leading expert in macro, micro and nanorobotic theory and design. The relatively new Izanagi Technologies hired him right off the bat as a senior executive at their newest production facility, meant to release the first line of their groundbreaking companion aids, meant for senior residences and hospitals.

Thus the scar. Nothing like being one of the biggest names in the industry and getting maimed by your new boss’s safety negligence to seriously get your career on the fast track.

Motive: Izanagi Robotics has since expanded their “Companion” models to incorporate a wide range of social functions, ranging from common labor jobs to secretaries to… other functions. Robots may have a steep initial cost, but the increasingly sophisticated self-diagnostics and repair systems and tireless work means that they soon outstrip human performance by magnitudes. Naturally, this has caused more than a little tension – demand for unskilled labor is steadily decreasing, and even some of the more complex jobs have been affected by the Izanagi Robotics group’s mastery. Masato presides over possibly the most tumultuous era of his company, or even industry’s, history, and it is commonly held that much of the debate over robot ethics can be laid at his doorsteps.

Certainly, the latest fiasco is tied directly to Izanagi Robotics. Their latest commercial “personality” patch was, controversially, targeted at the Akihabara subculture, a minor scandal all of itself given the low public opinion held about otaku. But it wasn’t its released version that caused the death of ten individuals throughout Japan, but a pirated beta version, now commonly referred to with morbid humor as the “yandere” patch.

On a broader scale, Masato’s writings concerning the ethics of sentience has been gaining more and more support, especially from the transhumanism community. Especially when it deals with robotics whose social interaction programs have now gotten sophisticated enough to fool most laypeople, the debate is quicky growing heated…

Notes: Masato’s history isn’t fully explained here. Nor his motivations. That’d be spoilerin’, and given my paradoxical lack of hope that it’ll be published, and the small vain chance that it might, I don’t wanna give away too much. Suffice to say, he’s one of the major keystones to the entire ensemble, though plans are that he doesn’t get much actual screen time.

Next time? Setting background.

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~ by Gonzo Mehum on February 2, 2009.

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