Caprica And The MCP Chip That Starts It All

by on March 8, 2010

in Entertainment

The story Caprica keeps referring to the metacognitive processor (MCP) chip. I thought it might be interesting to know what that chip is supposed to do and why it is so important to the story.

Unless you were born in a cave and have spent the last twenty years living in the wilderness you know that the central processing unit (CPU) is the brain of every computer. It basically takes the information given to it from the user through input devices and processes it, delivering the results to either your hard drive, a printer, a screen, a speaker or anything else that the user would like it sent or saved to.

The term metadata breaks down into an an interesting definition.  META means about.  Thus metadata literally means about data.

Creating an artificial intelligence that is capable of simulating self awareness is the holy grail of computer science.  We humans believe we are a higher intelligence because we’re self aware. We are capable of perceiving that we are separate from our environment and that we are mortal.

The term metacognition means thinking about thinking. (My god, what is it about these words about words?  Editor.)

Where is all this gibberish going?  If you put it all together, the sum of these processes says that a metacognitive processor would be a computer chip that is capable of thinking about what it knows and how it knows it. It could, if given the proper program, think about itself as an entity and become self aware.


This brings us to Caprica. Daniel Graystone has the MCP Chip but has only been able to make it work in his prototype U-87. I am baffled by the fact that Graystone has not yet figured out that he needs to use Zoe’s avatar program to produce a fully sentient artificial intelligence. We know that the Zoe program is still in the robot but he doesn’t. He thinks it was lost. When will he figure this out?

The next step will be for someone to want to achieve immortality by downloading their consciousness into the machine. Hopefully after they have constructed a heaven where they could live forever or a body that would simulate being human. The story hints that this may be what Clarice is up to. We do know from Battlestar Galactica that the Cylons build a resurrection machine and that there are Cylons that look and act human. I am not sure if the creators of Caprica will explore this but I hope they do.

If you have read to this point you are officially a geek and I know you are a fan of Caprica. Keep talking about the show and get others to watch. Go forth and pollinate my fellow geeks.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Bruce Simmons March 9, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Jody, you hit it on the head! The ratings have been less than expected, considering the BSG contingent was a bit stronger.

In fact Tim sent me these numbers on the RATINGS FOR CAPRICA:

– 1.155 million viewers
– 0.8/1 HH
– 0.5/1 A18-49

We have to keep inching those numbers up … somehow! Maybe I’ll buy 2 TV’s! {snark!}

Jody Tyner March 9, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I agree with your observations Jane. I’m really enjoying the character development, but my big fear is it will be too slow for the TV execs and they will chop the show after the first season, which in my opinion would be a shame as the show is quite unique compared to the rest of the ‘reality’ drivel we have to watch the rest of the week!

Jane March 9, 2010 at 12:05 pm

I really enjoy Caprica. I think the Zoe avatar’s growth is a very interesting exploration of self-awareness. I think Clarice is a fascinating character because she believes what she is doing is for the greater good. It will be interesting to see who gets control of the Avatar/robot. Her competition with Barnabus is heating up and it looks like a clash of the two approaches, manipulation versus terror, is imminent. Very interesting article Tim.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: