There was supposed to be a country with advanced technology and machines. But along the way, Kino met an elderly woman who invites them to the house of the family she serves. She is a robot, and she also says there is no country in the area.
The ‘masters’ also claim that there is no such country, even though the son presumably goes to school, and the master and mistress presumably go to work. They also claim to be human.
The interesting thing here is that the machines are making a pretense of human life, and make an effort to make Kino believe. It’s a terrible effort, because they cannot deal with questions and respond with stock “video game RPG” answers. They also never touch their food during dinner, and yet put them away as if they’re finished eating.
They even compliment the cook.
The next day the same routine over breakfast, and Kino is disturbed at how they just throw the food away under the pretext of having finished eating it.
For lunch the maid takes Kino and Hermes to a nearby glacier lake, and there Kino discovers the country, completely submerged in the lake like some kind of Atlantis, only completely dead, and not too long ago.
The real deception here is that the maid turns out to be human. Hers was the most important pretense. What kept her going was the need to be truly useful, and that serving the machine family was merely a stopgap measure. I think she was waiting for someone like Kino to arrive, so she can be of service.
This was the truth of her life. She was a servant who wished most to be of service.
This is wrong. I totally got this episode wrong.
I was fooled. She turned out to be human, with an extensive back story rooted to the demise of the the country under the lake. She would have died if not for the intervention of the robots she made, who “fixed her” as best as they can.
The problem was, she woke up under the impression that she was a maid in their service, and that they were completely human and she was the robot. The thing is, her programming of robots is for them to be completely in the service of a human being. They have no reason to exist if they did not serve.
When she died, they told their story to Kino and requested to be of service to her. When Kino refused, they killed themselves by jumping into the lake.
What I dislike about this episode is how the interesting stuff happens by means of storytelling narrated by one of the characters. It doesn’t happen. The interesting stuff happens in the back story. Also, I don’t like how the robots just destroyed themselves like that. It feels like a very cheap resolution.
What I wanted to do in this post is explore the idea of pretense as a function of artificial intelligence. But it turns out that the story was merely a sad tale, a little tragedy, that can be neatly wrapped up and Kino can just leave without complications.
But let’s put that aside, because despite the shortcuts I perceive that are conventional to this show and its conceit, there’s something important here beyond fitting in the broader structure. The scientist who became a robot servant to robots she made but believed were human had an interesting belief:
The delegation of labor to robot servants is the solution to human conflict (the country had ethnic strife)
As to why or how this belief makes sense, someone else tell me. I believe work, in its many forms is important. In ep 05 there was another country that automated itself and yet believed that work was necessary to establish merit. This time the visionary believed that work was unnecessary, and perhaps even harmful such that the delegation to mechanical servants was desirable.
What would a population of jobless, indolent belligerents do?