In 2280, Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to more than simple androids and clever software personalities; they are incredibly sophisticated forms of synthetic life, built with a series of fundamental software building blocks known as AI Modules - or simply, Modules. Many city-states have even begun providing "Free-floating" AI (as in possessing synthetic bodies rather than existing within a network system) with citizenship.
AI, by 2280, has far surpassed the crude rule-based software systems of the 21st century. Neural networks did not reach real progress until the biological sciences made it possible to implement them with real neurons - in other words, creating a programmable form of biological intelligence.
As AI research progressed and proliferated in the late 21st and early 22nd centuries, researchers began to put the computational powers they had summoned into robotic and organic bodies, creating entities which, while not quite human, had all the faculties of Humans - the first "free-floating" AI. Everything from industrial machinery to household aids became infused with some measure of AI. It seemed a golden age of intelligent machines was about to arrive. At the same time, AI were largely exploited and their role and use was clouded in moral and ethical fog, a fog which became thicker as corporations and those with little interest in liberty become more and more involved in the debate. AI researchers, cognizant of the ethical questions surrounding AI, tried to focus development on systems that had no ability to “grow” beyond the parameters of their design. However, it quickly became evident that such programming limitations severely limited their creation’s ability to function autonomously and understand the world sufficiently to remain competitive with models programmed without such constraints. In order to give an AI “life”, and enable it to remain competitive, the AI required resources for growth, resources which are soon consumed at a frightening rate. Scientists and engineers could not keep their programmes contained or manage their massive appetites.
In 2155 power failures and damage to critical systems spread as AI attempted to hoard power and computational resources for themselves. Countless lives were lost as life-support systems failed and automated safety protocols were consumed. When habitation spaces become lethal and impossible to monitor, society unravels at the seams. Outcry for something to be done reached the highest levels of city-state administration, and everyone looked to the New World Science and Engineering Commission.
The Commission’s first move was to propose a Global Accord on Artificial Life, complete with agreed-upon punishments for anyone who violated the Accord and a promise from all Accord signatories that they would devote resources to seeking out and punishing violators. The city-states quickly agreed, their populations screaming for action, and signed on, bringing the GAAL into effect on 1 July 2155.
One day later, as systems were failing around the world and panic was reaching catastrophic levels, Dr. Hector Sullivan of the NWSEC released his team‘s Active Artificial Intelligence Deconstruction Module to the technical heads of the city-states, who began deploying the tool on their comp-grids. The AI Killer, as it became known, sat in wait on the borders of systems for AI to attempt to pass. It then injected a copy of itself, causing the AI to rapidly destabilise and, in the words of Dr. Sullivan, “die a painless death”.
As a direct result of the GAAL, there are now two forms of AI: Loaded and Free-floating.
Loaded AI Edit
Loaded AI lack an android body. They are bound to one or more fixed computer systems.
Loaded AI are frequently employed by corporations and city-states to develop and monitor critical infrastructure and systems, and are extremely common in homes and factories - anywhere computer-controlled infrastructure is used.
Free-Floating AI Edit
Free-floating AI have an android body and a bio-neural matrix, a sophisticated organic computing system which functions as the AI brain and prevents AI from “switching” bodies by transferring themselves.
Initially, Free-floating AI resembled robots and were treated as such. Although they could think and learn like any other intelligent species, AI appearance often created a degree of fear, mistrust, and inferiority in the minds of some people. AI manufacturing centres recognised human aversion to their more perfect mechanical copies, and were forced to attempt to make AI appear more human. This evolution in AI design continues in 2280.
In truth, the mannerisms and appearance of AI are not yet convincingly human, and most can easily be picked out by all but the most uneducated. Research and development continues at a feverish pace, and competition between technology firms is vicious. More lifelike and sophisticated AI are under development, their numbers growing daily. Numerous computing technologies, ranging from mundane but often reliable silicon to cutting edge DNA computers, run the New World's AI. Hardware and software constantly change pushing old models into obsolescence.
AI are far from perfect; they are limited by their programming and the finite boundaries of their motor control in much the same way other species are limited by genetics. However, as machines their capacity to augment or completely overhaul their physiology is unmatched. AI can easily incorporate cybernetics, including many mental augmentations, a well as various types of armour into their bodies.
AI still struggle to develop a culture of their own. Just as with the Bio-Engineered, there is an obvious, deep-rooted artificiality to their existence. As a result, some AI adopt the cultures and traditions of other species. A number of AI have begun a movement to develop their own customs and culture, using AI who have risen to positions of relatively high status or celebrity as role models. An extreme part of this movement, known as 111, envision an exclusive place for AI at the top of the Evolutionary pyramid, and have slowly and quietly strengthened their numbers, bringing more AI into the fold. They look to the future for the opportunity to prove their superiority; a campaign that will surely result in violent conflict.
While most people tend to look at AI as machines and pay little attention to them, many humans see the superior physical and mental capabilities of AI as a threat, and show overt bigotry. Despite this, most AI form strong bonds of friendship and family with those they serve, in many cases becoming a beloved servant or loyal friend.