After me going on endlessly last episode about how dangling the Sibyl reveal over us for the rest of the series would be suicidal and only lead to disappointment, I feel a little bit silly that they pulled the Sibyl reveal in literally the very next episode. In amongst the many theories I threw out, floating brains of people apprehended by Sibyl was one I did predict, as did a few other people in the comments. Although that’s because floating brains as computers is fairly standard in cyberpunk stories. I was a little let down too originally, because floating brains are a bit too cliche and tacky at this stage. But once they got into their explanation, I was able to buy it.
I’ve mentioned before that morality is not a quantifiable thing. It’s simply decided by social constructs. Combine this together with the idea that we still really don’t understand an awful lot of the human brain and how each part corresponds to someone’s personality, and you realise that the existence of the Sibyl system is pretty far-fetched. Of course this is sci-fi and there’s always a bit of handwaving and proclamations of “BECAUSE SCIENCE”, but Psycho Pass decided to stop handwaving with Sibyl and give us a bit of an explanation.
Morality is decided by humans, so therefore only other humans can decide how morally aligned someone is. It sounds a bit silly when you put it as bluntly as that, but that happens to be a large part of what out legal system is built on. Juries are based on this idea that selection of regular old folks can tell how likely someone is to be guilty or not guilty. When you consider how shockingly thick most people on the planet are, this idea really does come across as absurd. A collection of people with no training or expertise can deliver judgement on a potential criminal?
The idea of jury does have sound theory behind it, based upon the very basic idea that only other humans can judge each other. Sibyl just expands on that idea and improves on it. Instead of picking a random selection of people who could end up being 10 racists who send a man to the slammer because those blacks are all like that you know, we get over 200 people with wildly different personalities and outlooks on life. The people they bring in are the most intelligent and cross reference to fill any and every world view there is. Plus whenever they reveal to have a flaw in their system, they improve it and plug that hole with the very thing that revealed the flaw. It’s like how computing companies hire the hacker who hacks their own system.
So, as silly as the idea of a bunch of brains in jars might be as a visual representation of this system, I can totally buy it. The chief constable lady also works quite well as a representation of Sibyl actually talking to people. She’s just a shell which swaps in and out the people who make up Sibyl. In mythology, Sibyl was the name of crazy ladies who were said to be oracles delivering the words of the gods, so I’m guessing that’s where the name for Psycho Pass comes from. She is the voice of the ‘gods’ so to speak. Also, tying in with previous subjects the show talked about, immortality is touched upon with Sibyl. The machine body lives forever, but the brain does eventually die. From what they were talking about in this episode, I’m assuming the floating brains can live, if not forever, certainly for a very long time.
The only problem here is that they asked Makishima to be part of Sibyl, and his outlook on life is directly opposite to what Sibyl represents. In many ways, Makishima isn’t much of a character. He is more a representative of ideals, all of which are near direct opposite to Sibyl. It’s a rather Gen Urabochi thing to do. The characters in Madoka Magica were also more representatives of ideals rather than people. Makishima represents self-determination to a fault. What’s interesting about that outlook is it’s left him a rather eerie sociopath, not flinching at killing people in the slightest. It really does seem like it’s all a game to him.