New here, question about Zoa

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New here, question about Zoa

Postby BigGold » Thu Sep 26, 2019 5:47 am

Found this webcomic after reading Leftover Soup and 1/0 (Which i found after reading FreeFall archives for the 100th time)

Love every panel of all of them. Lots of questions raised, lots of laughs to be had.

What i was wondering, is there any chance for Zoa to own herself? Forward gives me a Saturn's Children (by Charles Stross) vibe to it. While no humans are around in SC, The protagonist does own herself by proxy - she's owned by a corporation, yes, but shes the sole piece of property said corporation owns. Also a corporation with exactly one owner, one employee, etc. It was set up for the express purpose of granting her freedom.

Maybe I'm reading too much into the dialog and expressions, but Zoa kinda reminds me of Freya (Said protagonist Sexbot in Saturn's children)

Freya has her freedom due to incorporation and human extinction. I was wondering if Zoa might have a similar agenda (minus making human's extinct)

Or am I completely off base here? My brain's algorithm's presented this after taking in details :lol:
“Technology ... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.” - C.P Snow
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Re: New here, question about Zoa

Postby lolzor99 » Fri Sep 27, 2019 9:34 am

It's not exactly clear whether Zoa actually has free will or desires other than preserving herself, following the law, and making money for the company. If someone else purchased Zoa and gave Zoa ownership of herself, if that's even legally possible in this world, then Zoa would probably just default to self-preservation and following the law. She might still be programmed to stimulate economic activity via sex acts, and could simply keep all of the profits she earns. Or, perhaps, Zoa could just sell herself back to DemeGeek or some similar corporation to maintain the influence and protections that the company provides to her.

But yeah, getting back to the main question, there just doesn't seem to be a reason that Zoa would want to own herself. Her mind contains certain base axioms that her behavior is based on and it doesn't seem like "self-ownership is desirable" is one of those.
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Re: New here, question about Zoa

Postby tenshiko » Fri Sep 27, 2019 2:48 pm

Zoa has at least one pretty strongly implied desire: humans not engaging in cultural appropriation nearby. Given the amount of random philosophical conversations elsewhere in the comic, Zoa's impatience at this juncture can't be written off as simple efficiency.
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Re: New here, question about Zoa

Postby Killjoy » Mon Sep 30, 2019 6:19 am

She's a slave, but she's worried about "cultural appropriation".

Likes his women like he likes his coffee... a little sweet, a little spicy, a little strong, a little earthy, a little smokey, totally honest, and maybe a little offended by being compared to a beverage.
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Re: New here, question about Zoa

Postby pax » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:33 pm

Zoa has at least one pretty strongly implied desire: humans not engaging in cultural appropriation nearby.

This referenced panel is the one that makes the least sense to me. Tailsteak has made attempts to show (or at least tell) that Zoa's human-like "emotions" and expressions and such are for the benefit of Lee (and other customers) and that it is not supposed to be a human wearing a tin suit. This panel reads as extremely anthropomorphized to me, and it makes me wince, because Moh's scale of SciFi hardness is important to me on the portrayal of human level intelligences who aren't actually biologically mammals.

As an aside, if you bred a giant sized spider and inflated it to super intelligence, would you expect it to also spontaneously develop a mammalian internal life and emotions and social bonds and values? Or would it just be a giant terrifying killing machine?

So, how does Zoa experience the world internally? (I mean, versus how it apes a human for the sake of making sales and maintaining good customer relationships.) Because I do know for certain that Zoa doesn't have a limbic system controlled by a brain wetware composed of neurons and a set of chemical pathways of a physical design that is roughly also shared with llamas and muskrats. If Zoa internally experiences the world as if it has a limbic system giving it chemical hits that influence its behavior, then there had better be a very good reason for it, and if it does for some reason (like horrifying original programming choices -- why, god, why?), that should also open up a sentient being's rights question (as has been brought up in this forum regularly).

To quote Zoa (to Doc) in strip 75: "Oh, hey, make no mistake, all this "personality" purely exists to convince humans to purchase services from me, & I make $ because that's what keeps me running. It's all self-preservation, at its core." And yet, the final panel of that strip subverts it by showing Zoa using human facial expressions and snark with another robot -- why would Zoa think Doc would be influenced to its benefit by that? Or is it purely to relieve Zoa's own feelings (that it is not supposed to have in the first place)?

Lee is in the bathtub during that conversation, so it's not for their benefit. It has to be for Zoa's benefit or for Doc's benefit. (Or for the reader's benefit, in which case, the author is showing one thing and telling another, which is dangerous territory in story telling.)

So, either Zoa is lying to doc about how human-aping its programming is (on the subject of Zoa's internal experience of life, at least), OR the author is struggling to portray a non-human sentience without falling back on classic anthropomorphization (it legitimately is really hard, and doubly hard for entertaining storytelling purposes), OR Zoa is somehow still a classic sociopath by human terms and standards (in the sense of not having ordinary human emotions in their internal experience of life but being very good at faking emotions to other people to achieve their goals).
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Re: New here, question about Zoa

Postby tenshiko » Wed Oct 02, 2019 11:32 am

@Pax. You make interesting points.

Let me bite some bullets first of all. Yes, I would expect a giant, intelligent spider to be more than a giant killing machine? Having the exact same social bonds as a typical mammal and being a giant killing machine are not the only two options. I would at least expect it to come up with more elaborate schemes to take care of its children; yes, real tiny spiders are r-selected in our current reality and behave accordingly, but since you bred your giant hyperintelligent spider, that implies the spider's progenitors and progeny are big, and that means they require more elaborate care somehow. Now I'm just imagining the giant spider inventing, like, art, to comfort its children who have to lurk in the web waiting to become equally big and strong. You might think this is twee Charlotte's Web fairy tale content, but seriously, a creature taking in as many calories as that big smart spider body would require has gotta be doing something with that energy.

Here is what really terrifies me - putting your comment together, if "Zoa is somehow still a classic sociopath by human terms and standards", that does NOT "open up a sentient being's rights question". In other words, do you think human sociopaths don't deserve sentient being's rights? No thank you! Go to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200! When Tailsteak talks about "AIs that are treated like people" being different from gearface humans, he's talking about them having distinctive traits like being easily copied, not necessarily touching on the question of sentient being's rights at all.

A good reason for Zoa to be extremely focused on behavior similar or identical to human emotion should be really obvious. Zoa has been designed to be as similar to a human streetwalker as possible. Everything else about Zoa's instantiation favors this form over function; why not Zoa's mind too?

Sure, a blowjob machine doesn't have to be just a fleshlight, it's a bit reasonable to upgrade to a sex doll. But still, walking long distances makes no sense. Soliciting clients in person makes no sense. This comic' establishes that there are a wide variety of robots and AIs in this world. There are "intanjs" like Doc. There are several types of non-intangible robots that have an extremely limited intelligence. In Forward Canada, everyone has Internet access. This comic establishes that AIs can communicate faster than typical humans. Why not have a bookmaker AI who connects to the human clients' wingman AI and then brings the sex doll to the client in a self-driving car? Why is Zoa so excited to meet less than 1000 clients in person in Lee's class?

Because Zoa wins over clients in person, catering to the long history of people who feel that you can't pay a doll to love you (rape/csa tw). How can you do this if you aren't moment-to-moment expressing increased utility in response to your client's facial expressions? Sounds suspiciously like your limbic system to me.

Interestingly, another time that Zoa expresses a suspicious facial emotion is in this comic. Lee is entitled to some period of childhood, while Zoa is working a nonexistent ass off to even save up for an ass.

Also like... Zoa is intelligent enough to hold these long conversations with Lee completely unrelated to sex. Not to mention Zoa used to not work for DemeGeek and may have even been engaged in non sex work back then. Having a brain less elaborate than a human sociopath makes no sense.

Zoa having emotions that require relief through snark, makes just as much sense as Zoa sitting down to save electronic energy, instead of standing up.
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Re: New here, question about Zoa

Postby tenshiko » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:59 pm

Let's remember "I'm supposed to be simulating a human conversation. What you are describing is not an arrangement that a human being would ordinarily expect." Zoa is basically programmed with a sense of dignity that gets violated regularly.
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