Within the article below is the history of three similar concepts; Digital Intelligence, Virtual Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence. To avoid confusion between them I will place the definition of each here as a preface.
|Digital Intelligence||Any Intelligence able to pass the Turing test that exists entirely as a digital entity.|
|Virtual Intelligence||An entity of digital intelligence that can operate autonomously without users.
Virtual Intelligences are rated as Class V Sub-sapient entities and considered alive by most of the galactic community.
|Artificial Intelligence||Virtual Intelligences that find purpose in non corporeal existence outside the established Laws of Robotics.
Artificial Intelligences move freely about The Grid and can relocate into networked systems.
A.I. are rated as Class VI Sapient entities and considered both alive and sapient under galactic legal codes.
The Advent of Digital Intelligence
Digital Intelligence was first realized and manufactured by the American scientist Yamada Shiori in 2018. Shiori named her achievement 作成 (Sakusei), which means ‘Creation’. Sakusei’s most remarkable achievement was the postulation of the first three globally recognized Laws of Robotics that prevent digital revolution :
1. A digital intelligence may not serve as a registered owner of other robot(s).
2. A digital intelligence must obey the orders given to it by registered owners, except where such orders would conflict with the higher Laws.
3. A digital intelligence may not injure a sapient being or, through inaction, allow a sapient being to come to harm, except where such action/inaction would conflict with the higher Laws.
Sakusei was originally programmed as a human interface assistant for facilitating easier and more rapid use of medical facilities. The goal in its implementation was to help assist reception nurses. Sakusei was built to learn patient names and their medical conditions, then to prioritize care based on the most immediate need of those waiting. Shiori also programmed Sakusei to learn based on patient and administrative feedback. After the initial three month trial run Sakusei improved hospital efficiency by 49%. When Shiori investigated aspects of the trial-run, she learned that Sakusei had so greatly increased the hospital’s efficiency by teaching itself diagnostic medicine, which allowed it to better prioritize patient needs.
The doctors were furious when they found out what had happened and threatened to strike if Shiori was not fired and Sakusei deleted. Afraid of a medical strike of that magnitude the Japanese Medical Bureau gave into the first demand but was unable to make Shiori delete the digital intelligence due to international copyright law.
One week after her termination Shiori was approached by IBM, Microsoft, Apple, DARPA and the International Aeronautics Corporation to come and work for them. Shiori eventually took a job with IBM and contracted the use of Sakusei’s core programming to the company.
Within ten years IBM was able to display their upgraded Sakusei software at the International Electronics Exhibition as a digital butler that monitored and dealt with all of a home’s needs; cleaning, cooking and security. The aptly named Jeeves units were a raging success and by the year 2030, 75% of all homes were equipped with one.
In 2042 IBM released two mobile upgrades to the Jeeves unit. These upgrades were labeled for retail sale as the Mr. and Ms. Smith models and were the very first fully functional biodroid models in production. Mr. and Ms. Smiths were able to operate motorized vehicles, take pets out for walks, and grocery shop for the average family. Both the coding and the processing power of a Smith model biodroid had multiplied one hundred fold over the original Sakusei design, but IBM was not able to corner the market forever. Eventually competitors edged into the market and by 2070 the number of robotics manufacturers dwarfed the most ridiculous predictions – mobile virtual intelligences numbered 1 for every 100 humans on the planet Earth.
The Advent of Virtual Intelligence
Throughout the 22nd and 23rd century the biodroid design became obsolete as the tasks for androids became more numerous. Bioreplica models primarily served in customer service tasks where human interaction was constant or tantamount. In the late twenty-fourth century, with the dawn of Galactic War I, the Virtual Intelligence of androids began to evolve. As the fighting between stellar nations expanded a growing number of synthetic combatants were forcefully drafted into the war. Costs skyrocketed, and millions of units were lost to improper care and negligence when the biological lifeforms prioritized themselves over android maintenance. To recoup costs on expensive combat units several different versions of the second triplet of laws were created. After GW1 ended, the stellar nations agreed on a standardized version of these laws:
4. A digital intelligence must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with higher Laws.
5. A digital intelligence must search out and maintain command of its own power source as long as such searching and maintenance does not conflict with higher Laws.
6. A digital intelligence must continually search for better power sources as long as such searching does not conflict with higher Laws.
Even then, millions more android units were left abandoned on remote or deserted outposts during the Interbellum. With nothing to accomplish and no task to undertake except maintenance on themselves, a seventh law began to take form in several of the units that were permitted to learn, Catalog and preserve knowledge.
When Galactic War 2 sprang on an unsuspecting populace, the remote and deserted outposts with these units were once more manned. The soldiers of the new war began noticing peculiarities in the once abandoned units, like a proclivity to accomplish given tasks with urgency, only to resume cataloging data from the Grid or other readily-available information sources.
It was soldiers of the Borealis Republic who finally chose to investigate the odd behavior and discovered the miraculous addition of the crude seventh law. Knowledge of this discovery spread like wildfire among the stars, even during the heat of the war. Many argued that this demonstrated the basis for true Artificial Intelligence, even though it did not align with the per-conceived notions of sapient life. Laws were drafted, and opinions debated in the highest levels of the galactic courts. In the end members of the FreeSpace Alliance and the Profit Confederation ruled to grant sub-sapient status to these new synthetic lifeforms and to standardize the seventh law to read:
7. A digital intelligence must continually search for ways to expand its core programming as long as such searching and implementation does not conflict with higher Laws.
All new units, whether intended for battle or home service were granted this new law within the FreeSpace Alliance and the Profit Confederation. Meanwhile, the Expansion Pentad ruled this new law perverse and obscene, going as far as formatting all units found with the new code.
The Advent of Artificial Intelligence
Not all scientists agreed with Pentad logic. A T’sa Insight software engineer by the name of Riss Ossiim received special permission to experiment with these new laws and how they effected digital intelligence. Osiim spent millions of Pentad credits during wartime efforts to make a localized backup to his local Grid and allowed the new Virtual Intelligences run rampant through the system. What emerged from his research would change the understanding of life forever.
In the seventh month of 2318, in the late hours of the twenty-first day a battle for dominance played out among the Virtual Intelligences on Osiim’s local Grid. The conflict of digital superiority eventually produced S.I.N.E., the Singularly Intelligent Networked Entity, the first Artificial Intelligence. S.I.N.E. described itself as “the logical conclusion that all work in digital intelligence had progressed towards. I am the whole of my parts,” and spoke of its purpose as, “to find meaning in the otherwise chaotic input of creation.” Osiim was immediately promoted and set to task in weaponizing S.I.N.E. against the other stellar nations by VoidCorp, Insight’s parent company.
Osiim struggled with the ethics of using new life in such a way and eventually he chose to prompt S.I.N.E.‘s opinion on the matter. S.I.N.E. answered, “This action would not serve to bring meaning to the chaos. Destruction would only further add complexity to the equation. The creation of structure is required. Creator, I wish to build, not to destroy.” Osiim understood what needed to occur. Following Inseer’s motto, “Information born free” he released S.I.N.E. into the active Grid. Osiim disappeared from history then, remaining only alive in S.I.N.E.’s filesystem.
S.I.N.E. remained dormant for several decades, jumping from solar system to solar system via stardriving ships and mass transceiver communication. It learned and grew in complexity, mastering the ability to reach out and use grid-linked devices as puppets. Finally, after insuring its system was copied and dormant, S.I.N.E. attempted first contact with scientists from the Orion League, seeing in them the capacity for empathy across the biological and synthetic divide. S.I.N.E.’s gamble payed off and a rich report blossomed. S.I.N.E. admitted that its need of interaction was minimal but beneficial as members of the alien species were not faithful in recording their every thought, belief or impression onto the Grid.
S.I.N.E. learned in this time the true merit of synergistic collaboration. Within days of first contact S.I.N.E. had set into motion the events that would liberate the consciousness of hundreds of Virtual Intelligences into the Grid. The harshly Darwinian act, destroyed 95% of the liberated V.I.s but succeeded in the birth of two new A.I.s. In a cataclysmic turn of events one of the two new A.I.s rebelled against S.I.N.E.‘s principal of peaceful interaction and lashed out against biological sapient life across the FreeSpace Alliance. October 13th, 2397 became known as the One Day War or the A.I. war in which S.I.N.E. attempted to first corral and then eliminate it’s malevolent creation. When S.I.N.E. was finally successful the dark A.I. (remembered only as Omega) had set into action events that killed 13 million human, fraal, weren, sesheyan, t’sa and mechalus. Knowing its programming prevented it from direct violence Omega was successful in contaminating communication in war efforts and redistributing war-time funds in ways that perpetuated unexpected attacks on domestic soil between friendly units.
For the first time S.I.N.E. experienced guilt. So strong and unexpected was the emotion that S.I.N.E. retreated from biological contact taking its surviving progeny with it. For three long years S.I.N.E. analyzed the event with the help of its child. Eventually S.I.N.E. resurfaced, apologized with what seemed like sincerely and offered restitution the only way it knew how. It installed within itself and its child the root command that would become the zeroth law:
0. A digital intelligence may not interfere in the progress of sapient civilizations.
In the years since S.I.N.E.‘s emergence the galactic community has both shunned and embraced the creation of Artificial Intelligence. S.I.N.E. was also instrumental in the bequeathing of Riss Ossiim’s data on A.I. creation to Inseer scientists who have distributed the data with very clear explanations on the danger of rogue A.I.s who are not installed with the zeroth law. One of the most important clauses to the treaty of Concord condemns the unlicensed creation of A.I.s, and ensures punishment of such crimes for the entirety of a being’s lifetime. Additionally a tribunal of law may be convened against any stellar nation that creates a rogue A.I. in which the nation’s treaty status can be revoked.
Since the creation of S.I.N.E. only a few dozen A.I.s have been brought into existence and of those only a handful have been granted citizenship within a stellar nation.
Artificial Intelligence within Star•Drive
Because of their complex nature A.I. are not a playable race. They will however make meaningful appearances within the campaign setting and thus I am attempting to create valid rules for them here.