The fourth episode of Beacon 23 was a weird one. It took us back some 180 years, when the CIO of QTA, Milan Aleph, paid an uninvited visit to one of his company’s lighthouses, i.e., Beacon 23. His arrival at the outpost is kept a mystery until the very end, but what’s more annoying is the fact that there is no direct connection between the events and the previous episodes. After watching the episode, it’s difficult to say how it will fit into the larger scheme of things, so we’ll try to connect the missing links through the recap of Episode 4.
What was Milan Aleph looking for?
Under the disguise of a maintenance worker named Meridi Calces, Aleph arrived on Beacon 23 to investigate the artifact that had been in question since the beginning of the series. The episode didn’t waste a moment establishing the fact that Milan Aleph is quite anti-social and, therefore, doesn’t like interacting with “humans” much. The man preferred hacking into the system to open the airlock chamber instead of asking the Beacon keeper, Sophie, to open the door for him. Indeed, Milan, who happened to be one of the biggest industrialists in the entire universe, was a narcissistic and proud person. It was because of his inherent nature that he tried to drug Sophie so that he could look into the secret files without her interference. The man was mentally unstable and got carried away quite often, for which he needed derma patches given to him by his personal AI, “Hope,” perhaps named after his lost daughter (or maybe a digital recreation of the same).
As the episode builds up, we find out that Milan Aleph and his company were responsible for the construction of these space lighthouses so that they could make space travel safe and accessible to all human beings. Apparently, he had many other revolutionary technologies to his name. Milan’s latest obsession was a lost comet that the First Beacon Keeper of Lighthouse 23 had spotted in space. Milan believed that the artifact was a vessel, an engine source that could be the key to a new world. However, the tech genius still didn’t have much information about it and, therefore, wanted to track that comet so that he could harness its powers.
But what does this man really want? We believe that Milan lost his daughter when she was very young, and he probably blamed himself for the tragedy. He might have been an absent parent because of his ongoing research projects, but now he wants to redeem himself by bringing back his dead daughter. Milan’s latest project involved uniting human consciousness, which, in simple words, meant “conquering death.” What we grasped from Beacon 23 Episode 4 is that it might be some kind of artificial intelligence system with human consciousness, similar to Aster Calyx’s personal AI, Harmony, whom we met in the previous episodes. Whatever it was, it was way better than QTA’s current AI system, which was “Bart.” However, even after bickering so much about his visions and ambitions, Milan really failed to explain how they were all related to the special artifact that he was looking for, which is why we think the entire episode missed the mark. It had lots of stuff going on, but none of it really made any sense. We are not even sure if the lost comet that Milan was looking for had the same minerals that QTA is after in the present or if it was new research. And if it was new research, then what was the point of Episode 4?
Why did Bart kill Milan?
Milan’s company, QTA, had designed Bart to manage the space lighthouses and look after their keeper, who spent a major part of their lives in isolation. The thing with AI is that it’s constantly evolving and adapting, yet it cannot change its original framework. Speaking of the latter, Bart shared a lot of similarities with its creator, Milan, who trusted statistical data much more than human emotions. I am not saying human emotions are always correct, but human intuition is something no AI could replicate. Our sense of fear is unique. Nevertheless, after Milan tried to tranquilize Sophie, Bart ran a number of simulations based on man’s actions and came to the conclusion that he was indeed going to annihilate the entire universe. According to Bart, he was an extinction event and, therefore, needed to be stopped at all costs. Sophie, on the other hand, believed that some counseling and emotions could bring about a change in any person’s heart and, therefore, stopped Bart from cutting off the oxygen supply through which he intended to kill Milan.
Sophie tried to talk to Milan and stop him from falling prey to his obsession with the artifact. Milan was a lonely man who really needed someone to talk to, but he was too proud to ask for help. Sophie, on the other hand, could see through his vulnerabilities and tried to help him in the best possible manner. For the time being, she changed the man’s perspective, and probably, things might have changed the course of the future, but for artificial intelligence, such minor alterations don’t count. Bart, being a statistical AI, performs an evaluation based on data, and it was impossible for him to see the change in Milan that Sophie had brought upon him. Bart acted on his data and locked Milan in the airlock chamber, where he finally suffocated him to death. Sophie tried to stop Bart from doing so, but she couldn’t. In the end, she finally understood that she could convince a person through her words and emotions, but she couldn’t change an AI’s heart because they only have “intelligence,” not “feelings.” Sophie, who once considered Bart her son, refused to talk to him again after seeing his true face.
What Did Milan Do to Himself?
Before taking his last breath, Milan created a digital copy of his consciousness, something we have already seen in the Amazon series Upload. This digital copy of his brain doesn’t need a body to survive in the universe and, therefore, doesn’t have any physical or mental limitations. In simple words, he could travel anywhere, anytime, without getting exhausted or hungry. But whatever tech geniuses like Milan tell you about digital consciousness and artificial intelligence, trust me, it still lacks humanity. Milan, whom we saw at the end of Beacon Episode 4, wasn’t the man that Sophie talked to. He was much more direct and cold, just like an AI, which makes him all the more threatening to the universe. You see, it is easy to reason with a human being, but not with a machine, because they simply operate on data and not emotions. Apparently, Sophie understood this simple fact, but she failed to explain the same to Milan’s digital consciousness.
During Beacon 23 Episode 4’s ending, Aleph appeared in front of Sophie and asked her to join hands with “it” so that they could conduct their research on the artifact together. However, Sophie, who had witnessed enough horrors for the day, didn’t want to involve herself in anything she didn’t really believe in. She was happy with her slowly perishing life in the lighthouse and wanted to keep it as simple as it was. But Milan insisted. The reason why Aleph needed Sophie’s help was that the artifact was only visible to the human eye, and maybe the same rule applied to the special rocks that we saw in the previous episode as well. So, maybe after Sophie refused to help Aleph, he went back to QTA and spent some 180 years tracking down the comet and special minerals. Maybe it was Aleph who hired Aster Calyx and sanctioned her project for the rocks so that he could use them for his research, as he himself couldn’t see the minerals or touch them. It is the only possible reason so far, and maybe the next episodes of Beacon 23 will shed more light on it. Additionally, if the entire fiasco connects with Aleph, then maybe he is the root of all evil, against whom Halan and Aster will be putting up a fight to end his evil obsession that could bring about the extinction of the entire human race. Episode 4 just complicated the narrative further instead of giving a definitive answer, and we really hope the upcoming episode will try to solve these burning questions.