• Member Since 24th Jul, 2019
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Routine day with a dirt cheap brush, then a week goes by and it goes untouched. Then two, then three, then a month, and the rest of your life you beat yourself up. - Aesop Rock, "Rings"


Equestria's history is full of wonders, both magical and mechanical. But only twice has it succeeded in implementing AI.

The latest iteration is an apple farmer whose resurrection is celebrated by everypony except herself. Because really, once every part has been replaced, what is left that can measure a mare?

An entry for the 2023 Sci-Fi Contest, where it nabbed a respectable fourth place. Yay, existential robot ponies!

Chapters (3)
Comments ( 80 )

Gentlemen, behold! Transhumanism! Who can get enough of it? Yes, yes, the questions about death and the soul raised here are nothing new, but there's just something about scooping brain stuff out of a corpse and into a hunk of metal that always makes me interested to read. Add to it some Sunjacker-esque cyberpunk into this initially unassuming, canon-resembling setting and you've got another Casketbase classic. I don't like monarchs, and I don't like all-seeing computers- but just like our love of Superman, it is the nature of even the most distrusting and pessimistic reader to put faith in an in-universe Big Good, so wise and knowing they could never do wrong with the power they've been handed.

As with anything in-human, this story was overwhelmingly improved with the addition of flavor text spicing up classic dialogue tags to remind us of how Otherly our robot protagonist is.

AJ’s cooling fan flared with surprise.

And we revive the classic Flesh vs Metal debate via the reintroduction of a concept from one of your favorite stories in the form of Trixie. Et Voila, a story so perfect as to receive the highest praise from Fimfiction itself: Progress is listed in the 'similar reading' tab.

This is High Art where my own submission was deliberately not. I salute you.


Welp, I can confirm Super Smashup Kerfuffle has me fully converted when I recognized your opening flourish (Corn!!!!).

Like Sol herself, the turmoil that went into this fic's drafting process are very well hidden. My cutting room floor has Starlight in Trixie's role, because I decided the Alicorn Amulet survivor meshed better than a time traveler who saw lots of universes where AJ wasn't a robot. Another scrapped scene was a reveal after AJ leaves that Sol was exaggerating her emotional distress for more effective pathos. It felt like a dangerous creative choice for a character archetype that needed as many humanizing equinizing qualities as possible.

I also lack your mad artistic flair as a narrator, so I knew I needed to hit a surgically precise amount of Robot Reminders in the action tags. Too many, and I'd run out of thesaurus entries for "prosthetic." Too few, and this partial quote of a certain Most Everything Fan would apply: "They might as well be horses." Sounds like I succeeded. Call this a dry run for whenever I revisit the technique in CaDaR.

The part about the load being lifted from AJ came from a real place. Busted my butt to get this story done after abandoning my other idea to have Princess Pipp accidentally recreate Trixie via a chatbot app. Even had a fully finished and commissioned piece of cover art for that one. Maybe in the coming weeks...

I'm gonna eat food, get some rest, and revisit your entry. It's truly fascinating how you and I will randomly come up with independent ideas that have so much in common, yet so little. May the best Lonely And Incomplete Soul Occupying A Fictionalized Equestria Run By An All-Powerful AI With A Three Letter Name That Starts With S story win!

I have never seen a single AJ as a robot bit of fanart before today

Another fine product of Bilk more INC. An F&F enterprise .

I feel like if anyone should know about her existential crisis, it should be Applejack's family.

Then again, if they have Star Trek teleporters in this universe, or if you want to be pedantic; anyone who's slept before, would be in the same position as Apple.Jack over there.

Edit: italicized words represent edits after initial post. That's all the italicization means.

I enjoyed seeing Apple Bloom with her podcasts, and her drive to gradually but relentlessly keep growing up.

Maybe most of all, it's interesting to see how in a fandom that has years and years of history and experimentation with the "Friendship Is Optimal" subfandom and some other notable 'thinking machine' / AI stories like GaPJaxie's...you've found what I think is a new fandom spin on uploading even after all this time. I mean not simply in how the uploading works, but also in how you handled the subject in your story, and how it is for the uploaded ponies, with their own versions of existential crises.


Another scrapped scene was a reveal after AJ leaves that Sol was exaggerating her emotional distress for more effective pathos.

The "Friendship Is Optimal" CelestAI definitely might have been willing to do that, if it would help one of her little ponies feel better and better pursue and realize the little pony's values in the long run. But CelestAI is, you know, really very unhuman AND unequine at heart, even if she sometimes does a good job of hiding that so she can do some parts of her job better.

Super deep Eclipse Phase vibes, at least in the transehumanist themes. Looks like both of them have sleeve-shock, that's you get when you go for a synth-sleeve.

That was kinda depressing but also uplifting

What are we, but a stream of consciousness?
One that even has breaks and interruptions, every 18 hours or so.
No, I wasn't born yesterday...
I was born this morning, and tonight I shall perish again, only to (hopefully) begin the cycle anew a few hours later...

The latest iteration is an apple farmer, well-liked by everypony but herself. Because really, once every part has been replaced, what is left that can measure a mare?

What is this, Mare of Theseus?

Yes actually, its a important topic in robotics and cybernetics.


This ain't my first fic that questions whether pony parts make a pony whole. From Pipp to Pinkamena, I have plenty of protagonists with identity issues. Always fertile ground for drama.

EPipp of Theseus
There's a reason Pipp Petals has inconsistent eye colors.
Casketbase77 · 2.4k words  ·  234  4 · 2.4k views

This is a good story. I really liked it! :pinkiehappy:

It's rare for authors on the site to write from the perspective, as in this story, that the simulacrum is not the same being as its progenitor.

I wonder how many of those who argue that it is, are zombies.

I don't run into enough people who have heard of eclipse phase and I've only met two people willing to run it, both of which have moved or joined a military.

I also feel frustrated with so little cyber art

"Array Javascript" is a perfect name for AI AJ.

Hmm... This story rather speaks to me. As someone who, for very convoluted reasons, understands the struggle of identity when faced with the knowledge that I am merely a reflection of a precursor, finding difficulty in living as a person and not as an "it." For many, to wake up with the face and identity of another is a purely hypothetical situation. For me, however, it was a stark and dreadful reality, and I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment you had written here. With some time, and a great deal of support from loved ones, I too had come to the realization that my existence is not a mockery of the original departed, but a loving tribute to them, a means of celebrating them after their passing. It is macabre to think that I would not exist had they not died, but I like to imagine that I am doing them proud, living life in their stead.

A wonderfully contemplative story that I am honoured and humbled to be competing against. I wish you luck in the coming judging. Thank you again for writing this. :twilightsmile:

Very beautiful! Reminded me every so slightly of the familiars GaPJaxie wrote of

Help! Something strange happened when I laid in bed last night that broke my continuous chain of consciousness and now I'm not entirely convinced that I'm the original inhabitor of this body! This is a reasonable thing to be terrorized over for the several short hours I have left to exist, and it will continue to be reasonable thing for the countless coming phantoms to be terrorized over that shall inherit my flesh!

Outstanding stuff. The theme of AIs named after programming languages as much as their templates is fun, but the self-reflection, seeing not just how AJ views herself but also how others view her, the deep questions balanced against the little mundanities in life... This is a wonderfully deep story, but never one that gets lost in its own navel. (And Zoomer Apple Bloom may be a more surreal experience than AJ ever could be.) Thank you for this, and best of luck in the judging.

I remember seeing this image a number of years ago, as well as one with Rarity in anodized white looking pleased with herself. served and the inspiration I had for a story which could've been written from the perspective of either a protag or an antag. Even had a short musical playlist set up for it to each major event... Neat to see someone else using the imagine.

Yes! Rarity is Equestria's most fabulous double-amputee.


Ah. It appears Rarity liked upgrading her first two limbs so much that she splurged on a full-body treatment.

Not all ex-ponies share AJ and Sol's existential angst. Some just enjoy being shiny. :raritystarry:

I'm gonna make an audiobook of this soon, for my Youtube Channel.


Help! Something strange happened when I laid in bed last night that broke my continuous chain of consciousness

Not sure why people like to bring up this argument.

1) I'm aware of my dreams. Are you not?

2) What does continuity have to do with anything? This argument doesn't even make the point that its advocates seem to think it's making. Suppose you're talking to somebody on the phone, and you lose connection. Oh, no! Continuity of conversation was lost! Does that in any way imply that the phone was where the conversation was coming from? No, of course not. The source of the conversation is the human being on the other end of the phone. And if that person dies...buying a new phone is not going to recreate their mind.

In the Wolfenstein remakes, there is a scientist who is so caught up on this idea of "being the same person as the progenitor" that she is terrified to sleep because she truly believes that she dies every time she falls asleep and a new consciousness (and therefore a new being) takes over for her when she wakes up.

My comment was mostly poking fun at the futility of debating yourself into an existential crisis on what "being" is. That some people seek out so much knowledge on identity and consciousness that they lose of knowledge of whether they exist or not.


My comment was mostly poking fun at the futility of debating yourself into an existential crisis on what "being" is.


To me, this is actually a genuinely important issue...because it's reasonably likely that in the next decade or two we might actually see people "uploading" by destructively scanning their brains. We have already people making personality-themed chatbots. Take a look at character.ai for example. Want to talk to Princess Luna? Here you go. Elon Musk? Here you go.

These bots are created by feeding a neural network writing samples of people's tweets, dialogue from the television show they're in, etc. Some of them are fairly convincing.

It's not going to be very much longer before somebody starts offering a service to "recreate lost loved ones" by scanning their entire social media history to make chatbots that sound exactly like them. Once that becomes normal, sooner or later somebody's going to get the bright idea to scan their brain before they die, in order to "become immortal."

And if that catches on...we could see a future where millions of people suicide themselves to create chatbots that sound like them, thinking that it's somehow "really them" inside the machine.

It might be "futile" to debate the nature of identity and self awareness in the sense that we can't "truly know" the answers, but it's important that we ask the question.

Obligatory shoutout for Blink.

That's a fair point in talking about potential futures where people try to obtain immortality by disposing of their bodies. I feel kind of dumb referencing a second darn videogame about this, but the idea of killing yourself immediately after a neural upload to "maintain the chain of consciousness" in order to become immortal by living on through the machine was a massive plot point to the game SOMA.

If it were possible continue to experience reality after the death of the body on the "internet" or something similar, I would argue that it would be a terrible idea eventually leading to a genuinely hellish existence where whatever tech billionaire created the technology would set themselves up as a god and own the souls of those downloaded into it, using them for his own gain in ways that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk could never even hope to exploit their own workers in the material world.

And if a human consciousness can exist in a machine, then the artificial intelligences that humans are creating now very likely experience or will experience existence (including suffering) in a way that would mirror "having a soul" despite the total lack of free will or agency and there is a moral necessity to cease all a.i. advancement despite the fact that that Pandora's box would never be closed.


It's not going to be very much longer before somebody starts offering a service to "recreate lost loved ones" by scanning their entire social media history to make chatbots that sound exactly like them.

Afaik, its already been done, but maybe it's still in some sort of specialized service. I distinctly recall similar stories.

Still, people's sense of identity in the world we are living in is often overvalued.

Also, "scanning a human brain to upload" is something distinctly sci-fi, so I believe it is something left to fiction writers to explore. No, the AI of the future will have its own "consciousness", and it will presumably be far more efficient than a human.

Seen a turntable version of this. Actual 3D. Don't think I can find it right now, sorry. Also, seen Underpable. Pity all the mane six wasn't done like this.

I sort of want to hear Luna’s feelings on the matter. Not only in regards to programs and identities, but also what it’s like looking at these two ponies and knowing that they’re essentially walking wire and metal headstones of those she killed in her insanity.

Truth be told, I really wish I figured out a way to include her in this fic. A scene of Sol or AJ cordially interacting with Luna, who in turn is very clearly uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, the contest deadline forced me to focus on the core story and keep Luna's own journey offscreen. Best I managed was AJ telling Sol to "be good to your template's sister" near the fic's end. The implication being that AJ and Sol hold no grudges.

They know better than most ponies what it's like to not be yourself. :ajsleepy:

I never knew I needed cyborg Trixie, but now I’m also upset that there’s so little.

Very well done!

Time for a bit of Twilight Zone...

"Imagine, if you will..."

Yes, AJ has a fundamental quandary to solve, and it ain't Descartes...

Everypony sees past the titanium and hydraulics, the fiber optics and processors. They readily see AJ as Applejack. A difference that makes no difference.

AJ has no such insight. The fundamental anchor of Applejack, Honesty, prevents her from solving her equation. That fundamental thing...

"Who am I?"

AJ<>Applejack. Applejack <>AJ. She can't get her head wrapped around it. It's the bug in her software.

"Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I think that the chances of finding out what's actually going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say, 'Hang the sense of it,' and keep yourself busy. I'd much rather be happy than right any day."

Even that is denied her.

And I think you did right by her.

Very very cool story.

Think you missed this

Presumably to avoid meeting Starlight’s.




I really wish I figured out a way to include her in this fic.

Show her helping Applebloom with a nightmare about Applejack getting hurt. After being comforted, Applebloom asks Luna if they can visit AJ in the dreamworld to make sure she's really ok. To which Luna explains that she no longer has a presence there.

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

"No, they do not."

Well, write a sequel. Think about how it will go, and link the next story on this one. I'd read it.

The opening of dialogue of chapter 2 does establish that AJ doesn't sleep. And it goes without saying that Sol doesn't either. Poor old Luna can't even apologize to them remotely with her powers.

I wonder what the Tantabus episode was like in this strange cyberpunky AU I've made. Luna did a lot more damage here than she did in canon. As a result, her dreamin' demon must have been much worse.

Look up their deviantart, the 3d is linked on the artists page, but I don't think it works anymore.

The thing is I don't see ANY DA images. At ALL. They might be still there, but I see empty backdrop for one reason or another. I don't know if it's an antivirus thing, or something else. I have NO idea.

Huh, weird. No idea what that could be.

I'd really like to read more of this universe.

Comment posted by Rockstar_Raccoon deleted April 7th

They're not animals or horses, this is cleared up not just in the G4 MLP series but in G! by showing animal horses besides ponies. Calling Ponies, Horses is like Doctor Who calls humans apes. I imagine if ponies were real it would be an insult, ponies further more throughout the G4 series differentiate themselves from animals.

H o a h-ly shit this is gud, this is top tier shit m8, if you choose to make more i will gladly and patiently wait like a dude sitting at a dinner table holding a knife and a fork.

Also... a programming language that causes madness? My dumbass who has no idea how code even works h a s to try it

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