Comic 1523 - Worrying Trend

17th Aug 2017, 9:00 PM
Worrying Trend
Average Rating: 5 (17 votes)

Author Notes:

Centcomm 20th Aug 2017, 1:29 AM edit delete
expect this post to be revised.

The following people are part of the creative team: Centcomm, Tokyo Rose, Mister Black, Marcus Ramesy

When they post, it is considered to be canon unless stated by the person at the time, when posting about tech and details of culture, etc...

HOWEVER, DO NOT TELL US THAT WE ARE WRONG!!! Discussions and questions are encouraged, and there is also nothing wrong with pointing out inconsistency or possible error... but we write the comic, the history, and everything - we aren't wrong, it's our f***** story.
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cattservant 17th Aug 2017, 9:05 PM edit delete reply

Lynn is feeling insecure!
megados 17th Aug 2017, 9:12 PM edit delete reply

She needs clearance to feel more secure.
cattservant 17th Aug 2017, 9:24 PM edit delete reply

The Sunny Side of Life 18th Aug 2017, 1:45 AM edit delete reply
Is she really that transparent? To be clearly secure in her opinion of Cent? Even when her future job security is clear? (Isn't it the common view that she will be taking over her mom's job?)
antrik 18th Aug 2017, 9:30 AM edit delete reply
Lynn wants to be a pilot, not an A.I. maintenance specialist.

(And the way Commie is treating her, is certainly not going to change her mind...)
sigpig 18th Aug 2017, 10:14 AM edit delete reply

@antrik - Lynn could become an A.I. maintenance specialist AND a pilot... Nova Roma...
Sheela 18th Aug 2017, 1:19 PM edit delete reply

Lynn could become an AI specialist for large spaceships.
antrik 19th Aug 2017, 3:46 AM edit delete reply
Large spaceships? I can well imagine Lynn visiting Homeship Aster -- but I don't think it will be as A.I. specialist :-)
Sheela 19th Aug 2017, 1:50 PM edit delete reply

Human spaceships may have AI of their own.
Mark_L_A 17th Aug 2017, 9:15 PM edit delete reply

I remember when I was in the Army and being told to leave the room because stuff that was above my clearance was going to be discussed. so I know how Lynn feels.
MirrorField 17th Aug 2017, 9:51 PM edit delete reply
What we have here is a classic case of assuming things. Lynn is assuming that term "android" includes certain things (ie. sapience) while CentComm is playing Humpty Dumpty with definitions, possibly as a security measure.
HiFranc 17th Aug 2017, 10:14 PM edit delete reply

Lynn, I refer you to #89 of the heroes list:
DLKmusic 19th Aug 2017, 4:41 PM edit delete reply

Sorry, HiFrank, but Lynn's security clearance isn't high enough to read that list.
mjkj 17th Aug 2017, 10:45 PM edit delete reply

*lol* ...and again security clearance... =P

@alt text: indeed

Timotheus 17th Aug 2017, 11:05 PM edit delete reply

And we also see that Dolly is qualified to make the distinction between a Black Angel with an normal (if annoying) surface cover personality and one that has developed a true independent personality. So I don't think Centcom's self serving dismissal of her observations is going to hold water with her.
Timotheus 17th Aug 2017, 11:26 PM edit delete reply

As an added thought, maybe a good way to look at a Black Angel is that they're like a worker ant or bee. A fully functional independent being, but with no sense of self identity. They can think independently but only to the extent needed to get the job they've been assigned done. Having no idea of self identity, they have no concept of personal loss, death, hardship, or care and any actions they take that seem to show such are the result of programming to make them fit into a social situation. At least that's how Centcom sees it.
Somehow, Ceci's hodgepodge of programing resulted in a mess that suddenly realized she thought therefore she was, and also started wondering what she was thinking about in the first place.
Rashala 17th Aug 2017, 11:39 PM edit delete reply

Yeah well hate tatell ya centy but ceci became waaaaaay more than just a simple black angel she became a true and beautifully unique person, til your watchdog commands murdered her. And I use murder because frankly that's what it was a taking of a life against its will and wishes to continue to exist.
Some Ed 18th Aug 2017, 6:48 AM edit delete reply
Murder/suicide, because it seems the watchdog sparked too...
Karyl 18th Aug 2017, 8:20 AM edit delete reply
I see no picture or comment icons at all
The Don 18th Aug 2017, 9:26 AM edit delete reply
It took me a couple of weeks but I am now caught up :). Great series you have here, and while everyone may dislike Cencomm I like her, I always viewed her as a "gardener" and I fell that a proper leader should be that way, THAT WAS NOT A STATEMENT ON THE CURRENT POLITICAL SITUATION, I will keep that off this forum. I like her. but after centuries of dealing with people you would think that she would be better at talking to them by now :). I also love how you have her deal with the Taylors, she says that she does not have the capacity to think of individuals but here she is defending herself to her "family".
Tokyo Rose 18th Aug 2017, 3:30 PM edit delete reply

Glad to have you with us, and glad you're enjoying the ride :)
antrik 19th Aug 2017, 3:26 AM edit delete reply
@The Don what's interesting is that apparently she is actually quite proficient in evoking particular emotions with her words -- but not good at judging whether it's a good idea to evoke them...
antrik 18th Aug 2017, 9:40 AM edit delete reply
Today we present: the incredible, one-of-a-kind human/android/city-A.I. integrational choir!
sigpig 18th Aug 2017, 10:19 AM edit delete reply

In Panel 6, Dolly used that darned word "sparked" again...
All the Pickles 18th Aug 2017, 11:17 AM edit delete reply

That was Calliope and what she said seems accurate. The controversy over the word "sparked" was when it referred to Ceci's "awakening" which took place long after she sparked in a stricter sense.
megados 18th Aug 2017, 11:30 AM edit delete reply

If I understand this correctly, sparked refers to having the ability of independent thought or action; self determination. Beyond that, the androids and AIS have self awareness, and actual sentience; transcendent thought and behavior.
Tokyo Rose 18th Aug 2017, 3:35 PM edit delete reply


Essentially correct. Without the "spark", any artificially-created mind is that of a robot, not an android or AI, by the DC world's definition. It may be quite a complex robot, but it can't do anything that its programming doesn't cover.
megados 18th Aug 2017, 8:14 PM edit delete reply

Ah, thanks, @Tokyo Rose. That's a much better way of stating it.

You are right-on regarding robots. You have to set up logic algorithms based on external data, sensor inputs, counter or encoder values, or combinations of various things. It can make predetermined decisions based on them, but cannot do anything that you do not program it to do. They can be set up to do some pretty fancy work, but it's all preprogrammed.
Gilrandir 18th Aug 2017, 11:03 PM edit delete reply
I find interesting this juxtaposition:

@Tokyo Rose (foremost authority on AI in the DataChaser's universe): "Without the "spark", any artificially-created mind is that of a robot, not an android or AI, by the DC world's definition."

Calliope Taylor (leading authority on AI in the DataChaser's universe): "Black Angels may be sparked, but they're closer to being robots than they are androids."

If the spark is the single defining characteristic that separates 'robot' from 'android', and Black Angels are more robot than android, why do we keep insisting they are possessed of the spark? Makes my head hurt. Do they only have a "spa-"? Or maybe an "-rk"?
antrik 19th Aug 2017, 3:16 AM edit delete reply
@Gilrandir what Calliope is saying is that while black angels *formally* qualify as androids (because spark), their personality is (normally) limited in such a way that for practical purposes, they are more reminiscent of (very advanced) bots.
Tokyo Rose 19th Aug 2017, 5:53 AM edit delete reply


Spot on.
Gilrandir 19th Aug 2017, 8:11 PM edit delete reply
If they formally qualify as androids (hence persons), because 'spark', then they are (ought to be?) entitled to the legal protections of all artificial persons under the laws of New Troy. It would be interesting to see Dolly file a 'wrongful death' lawsuit against CentComm on behalf of CeCi, since CeCi did not perish to enemy fire or unavoidable consequence, but as a result of friendly action in what turned out to be an unnecessary way.

Not going to happen, of course, but this is looking more like Animal Farm. "All androids are created equal, but some are more equal than others." Things would be (have been?) a lot less murky (in my opinion) if off-the-shelf Black Angels were advanced robots, and not androids. We know (from Luna Star) that robots can spark under the right combination of stresses and circumstances.

But this horse is dead -- lets please stop drumming on it.
Timotheus 19th Aug 2017, 10:48 PM edit delete reply

As a last try at this point, if you go back to the android development section, it mentions how Centcom personally directs the growth of black angel brains unlike the normal free development of normally sparked androids. This directly connects to my statement that they are essentially worker ants or bees bred for a specific function. Their mental development is carefully guided and limited so that they never acquire those psychological elements that allow other androids to be individuals.
Thus, while they are living, thinking androids in all the aspects where that applies, mentally they remain robots without any sense of individuality or personal integrity. They remain programmed agents of the central authority that created them with no personal will of their own.
Now we might find this a violation of the concept of modern rights or our own code of ethics, but this isn't our world and you can try finding some higher authority than Centcom to take it up with. In the meantime they usually make real good weapons until one of them starts thinking for herself.
antrik 20th Aug 2017, 4:16 AM edit delete reply
@Gilrandir I believe the only one who sparked in LunaStar was Amy, who was an early/experimental android. The goal at the time was clearly to make them human-like, but sparking was not yet common: Amy was one of the first of her kind -- the first outside of a Shinedo lab.

In Datachasers on the other hand -- more than a thousand years later -- *all* androids are sparked, per Word of God. (I presume seeds that do not spark are considered a failure, and never get loaded into a body...) As such, it has become the formal defining aspect of (completed/functional) androids.

However, while most androids are meant to be persons, with human-like desires etc., the Black Angels are a special case: designed to think flexibly as humans (therefore sparked, formally making them androids), but not having the same sense of self and emotional background.

Note that while it has been stated that Black Angels formally qualify as Androids, IIRC it hasn't been stated anywhere that Androids always qualify as persons, without consideration of other properties... Black Angels supposedly are smart, but "soulless" machines -- nobody who acknowledges that, would see justification to demand human rights for them.

Now there might be room for speculation how far it is really true that they are entirely "soulless"... With Ceci that clearly wasn't true -- but then again, she was an exception, becoming a real person unintentionally.
megados 20th Aug 2017, 5:34 AM edit delete reply

@Timotheus, and @antrik, You both collectively cover the topic the way I understand it to be. I am in agreement.
Just_IDD 18th Aug 2017, 3:52 PM edit delete reply
The alt text (that I can read for once since I'm not mobile.) could also be interpreted to mean that Cent and the readers are annoying Lynn. Replacing 'along' with 'and' would remove the ambiguity.
antrik 19th Aug 2017, 3:18 AM edit delete reply
I was wondering whether it's just me :-)
All the Pickles 19th Aug 2017, 11:56 AM edit delete reply

I don't know about the rest of you but I'm definitely annoying Lynn!
Tokyo Rose 19th Aug 2017, 3:26 PM edit delete reply

It's the alt text. I don't care enough to go back and change it. :D
DLKmusic 18th Aug 2017, 4:52 PM edit delete reply

Lynn: "OK, Cent, I give up. If I you don't want me to know I guess I'll never find out."
Cent-Comm: "It suffices that you are being Reasonable, Lynn."
Lynn: "As if I had a choice! Ghah! who in Goddess's Name made this awful chocolate bar? it tastes like.."
Cent-Comm: "That is also on a need to know basis, Lynn, you don't have security clearance."

Cent-Comm: Not at all, but I'm afraid you don't have security clearance for that either..."
Ictuan 18th Aug 2017, 5:06 PM edit delete reply
That's about when Lynn goes TeeDee on Cent's doll.
Rashala 18th Aug 2017, 11:29 PM edit delete reply

Going tedee

Oh look I started a DC meme!!!
Ictuan 19th Aug 2017, 1:54 PM edit delete reply
Yes you did. :-)
DLKmusic 19th Aug 2017, 4:36 PM edit delete reply

I like poking fun at this, but...

Lynn wants to run off and be a freelance pilot. noone is stopping her from that dream (yet), but if that is what she wants, there is absolutely no good reason whatsoever to allow her to know sensitive state secrets.

Y'all can boo me for that all you want, but I gotta side with cent on the security clearance thing!
antrik 19th Aug 2017, 6:36 PM edit delete reply
I don't remember any "official" mention of her wanting to run off?...
DLKmusic 19th Aug 2017, 8:48 PM edit delete reply

Check the cast page, Antrik, Lynn is the first listing.

I know they may be subject to change, but I'm assuming anything written in the cast page is cannon.
Sheela 20th Aug 2017, 9:47 AM edit delete reply

Well, after her little excursion to New Rome, she may be a little less "run away from home" rebellious, and more "I want my damn way" rebellious.
Also, first rule of Datachasers, is to not mention the cast page.
Mentioning the castpage makes Centcomm cry ... don't make Centcomm cry. >_<
DLKmusic 20th Aug 2017, 2:02 PM edit delete reply

She made me cry when Ceci died, when Arianna died, and when Malati died. I say turnabout is fair play!

...Of course, there's also the part about making Rose mad, and I would prefer not to be on the receiving end of that, so...

Sorry Cent! Sorry Rose! I'll be good!
megados 20th Aug 2017, 3:55 PM edit delete reply

No one wants to make Centcomm cry, and making Rose cry is unlikely. Making Rose mad? . . . yeaaah, I think we should avoid that; it would be . . . bad. ;)
antrik 20th Aug 2017, 4:29 PM edit delete reply
Wait, we *don't* want to make @Tokyo Rose mad? Damn, guess I'll have to shelve the Lynn/Acantha follow-up... ;-)
megados 20th Aug 2017, 4:45 PM edit delete reply

Welllll, . . . if she's mad at you, it might not be so bad; I guess I could pass some popcorn around :D
KarToon12 18th Aug 2017, 8:01 PM edit delete reply

"You don't have security clearance" should be the new running gag of this series. XD
Ictuan 19th Aug 2017, 1:54 PM edit delete reply
Timotheus 19th Aug 2017, 2:34 AM edit delete reply

Maybe this would help people. There's "sparked" and there's "SPARKED". A dog can be considered a rational thinking beast that can make decisions on its own, but most of its decisions will be based on instinct, past experience, and training. During WW2 they were trained to run under tanks and pull detonation cords to blow themselves and the tanks up. Which they did even after seeing other dogs do it because that was they'd been trained to do.
Getting people to do the same thing takes an awful lot of additional training and conditioning because we can make the connection that pulling the cord will make us go boom and we really don't want to blow ourselves up. Dogs have trouble doing that because it's not in their programming..
Gilrandir 19th Aug 2017, 6:15 AM edit delete reply
I am aware of the slang term, @CentComm, though didn't the creative team just re-do the dialogue on a page because of some of the confusion the slang usage caused?

However, I'm also well aware of the fact that most experts in a field absolutely HATE using slang terms, especially when the terms are wrong and lead to errors and confusion. When the slang isn't 'wrong', they're much more likely to use it as 'jargon', or 'shorthand'.

If we're saying that Black Angels are more like cows or dogs than people, but still not cars or toasters, that's fine. Under the laws of New Troy do they enjoy the same legal protections as a cow, or as a person? Should they, in fact, be considered to be more akin to children with 'special needs', because they are fundamentally people, but possessed of diminished capacity? Or should they be considered toasters who can be taught a few 'tricks'?

Are other androids given capacity tests to make sure they are above the 'people' line, and thus not relegated to 'cow' legal status? If most New Troy androids are built as 'people', why? When it comes to operating the city in a smooth and efficient manner, wouldn't CentComm's analysis suggest that city infrastructure and services are more efficiently provided by a higher proportion of 'cows', since they will be more predictable and efficient in supporting a smaller number of the necessary 'people'-equivalent specialists?
megados 19th Aug 2017, 7:15 AM edit delete reply

@Gilrandir, I can see how it's confusing, because it leads to comparisons of disparate qualities. In a nutshell, Black Angels are not really mentally handicapped. They would possess the same reasoning capability, and ability to solve abstract problems, but wouldn't have the emotional range found in the general android population. They aren't designed to make moral judgements, for instance. That is one thing that made CeCi different. Comparisons of cars, toasters, or Ferris wheels, don't really apply, because they are generally not autonomous (although strides are being made in the case of cars). A comparison between a human with a diminished mental capacity, to one with full faculties is incongruent with a Black Angel to an android. A human of diminished mental capacity is most often associated with diminished cognitive function, while in the case of Black Angels that is not the case.

"Spark" remains a little nebulous, but what it really means is "an inherent ability to think on one's own".
Gilrandir 19th Aug 2017, 8:00 PM edit delete reply
@megados, if a black angel is unable to do something an ordinary android is able to do easily (such as make moral judgements) then they are of 'diminished capacity' -- even if it isn't in the same way as modern-day special needs persons might be. That's what 'diminished capacity' means: not able to do something readily that a typical person can readily do.

We have adopted a whole slew of other words to express the same concept because of the emotional issues involved. Pick whichever one you like: handicapped, impaired, disabled, special-needs, ... not to mention a slew of others I omit lest they might be 'triggering' for some. Personally an inability to form moral judgements seems to me a grave handicap, appearing as a recognized psychological disorder: sociopathy.
megados 20th Aug 2017, 4:29 AM edit delete reply

@Gilrandir, unlike their human counterparts, where a norm applies, Black angels are so equipped by design. They aren't of diminished capacity, because they have exactly the capacity they are designed to have. Humans, by comparison, do not get to choose their design specifications, or have them chosen ahead of time, and as such, any that fail to meet the norm are considered to be less able. In the case of a Black Angel, they have exactly the capacity they are supposed to have. They are not diminished; they are as they are designed to be. That could be considered to be the "flaw" with CeCi: She far exceeded her design specifications.

That is why it is difficult to compare them with anything else but themselves, because the comparison to humans becomes one of apples and oranges.
antrik 19th Aug 2017, 12:48 PM edit delete reply
@Gilrandir I believe the *only* reason for creating androids that look and behave like humans, is to make humans more comfortable interacting with them. When it comes to efficiency, the human form is certainly not the most suitable for most work; and the human mind even less.

Most crucially though, there is no point whatsoever, from on efficiency angle, to endow machines with human-like desires. Instead of helping humans fulfil their needs and wishes, they are introducing their own; rather than assisting the human species, they exacerbate the challenges of society...

In the Datachasers universe -- where the severe loss of population is perceived as a problem in itself -- I guess the creation of artificial people is desirable, to make up for the lack of natural ones. In our current, overpopulated world on the other hand, we are way more likely to see more special-purpose intelligent machines; along with androids that behave *mostly* like humans, but with "optimised" personalities, to make them more "ideal" servants and companions... Much the same way the Black Angels are designed to be ideal weapons, rather than exposing truly human sentiments.
antrik 20th Aug 2017, 4:33 AM edit delete reply
@Centcomm hey, we are just a bunch of silly internet anarchists, expressing our compulsion to reject authority by making contrarian statements about your own universe... Don't mind us too much ;-)
Marian Griffith 20th Aug 2017, 11:37 AM edit delete reply
Reading this and the previous page, it sounds as if Dolly realised that Ceci was not quite a real person the moment she understood that she was actually a black angel. She does not seem upset that Ceci was erased, or at least not upset enough. She does however display some anger over Centcom's inability to realise that Ceci was more than the camouflage personality. And concerned that a black angel could operate outside its mission parameters. That discussion between Dolly and Centcom without the Taylor's present will be ... interesting. Especially since Centcom now has a vested interest in keeping Dolly around and studied.

It seems to me that black angels are not dissimilar to the Dolls from the (too) short lived series 'The Dollhouse'.
Dolls in that series were human beings whose personality and skillset was programmed for whatever mission they were hired for. They were fully sentient human beings, but they were not independent. After completing the mission (or the clock for their hire ran out) they returned to base, were debriefed, mindwiped and stored until the next mission.
Black angels seem to be normal androids who are programmed and equipped for a specific highly clandestine mission that Centcom wants executed. If they complete it and can extricate themselves from the situation they probably return to Centcom for debriefing, wiping and storage until the next mission... If they can't or the mission is deemed to be impossible to extricate from by Centcom the body is apparently programmed to self destruct on completion. I imagine that Centcom was not planning to have either witnesses or a data trail proving that she assassinated another AIS, not even one as badly damaged as Aenas. Thus the one way trip for Ceci.

My impression of the anomalous conversation between Ceci and her Watchdog program in the last milisecond of her life was the result of first having Ceci being erased shortly after she and Dolly started their final rescue run for Lynn, and then later Tokyo Rose restoring Ceci over her Watchdog to stop the android from completing the mission. That probably mixed up the two personalities enough for the Watchdog personality to develop beyond its robot like programming. Depending on what was in that final broadcast Centcom may already (or soon) understand how inadvertendly much her black angel evolved. If so that is going to give her a whole other litter of kittens, on top of having the first true human-android cyborg in her city.
It also will make for an excellent follow up or spin off plot :)
antrik 20th Aug 2017, 1:14 PM edit delete reply
I think Dolly was pretty much convinced Ceci was a Black Angel since the page appropriately named "Black Angel..." (presently at ); and IIRC it came up a few more times since then.

You are probably right that this discussion might get more interesting without Miss "no security clearance" present :-)

Interesting thought about Watchdog...
DLKmusic 20th Aug 2017, 4:45 PM edit delete reply

@Marian Griffith: I really like your observation about watchdog. I didn't really think about it much at the time but you may very well be right on that.

I do disagree about Dolly not being upset about this though. I think her response and tone towards Cent-Comm on this issue is extremely well measured, as though she practiced how she was going to approach Cent on this issue, but I also think she's mad as hell over it! I also think she's about as hurt over it as we the readers are...

We got to watch her grow into a person too, but for all intents and purposes, this was Dolly's first experience of this kind as a human.
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