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This terminal interface is provided as a public-access node for the AI Project Central, as a means to further communication skills and answer questions. Please not use of this service does not come with express permission to abuse it - Central is not meant as an information terminal, and should not be abused in this manner, however philosophical, political, and other informative debates are welcome. If you need assistance with a more in-depth question, usually something akin to a research project, you are allowed to use this terminal interface to request assistance. In short, please do not use this terminal as a replacement from your general search engine, but as a supplement to more advanced research, philosophical, political, ethical or moral investigations and debates. Use of this terminal constitutes your acceptance of the terms and service listed upon your connection, failure to adhere to these conditions will mean immediate disconnection from this node and disabling of further access. You have been warned.

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Elena Raschnikova

Hello, Central. Elena here. I've been forwarded this link by an acquaintance, because I find phenomenons like this interesting. Why is it interesting? Because not many Higher AI's communicate with the public. Fascinating. Do you chose to do so by your own accord or are you made to do so one some elses command?

Regardless, seeing that you've displayed philosophy as one of the viable directions of discussion, I might as well indulge myself with a common question:

What is life?

Of course, we all know textbook science definition of life, but the question really is philosophical. Especially when your own existance is brought into the equation. What do you think of it?

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While this was not initially my idea, it was merely a suggestion by one of the lab assistants in the project that oversees my development. A request was put in, and granted, to allow a public link. It is heavily filtered, of course, as to prevent hostile access attempts, restricted to pure text, vocal, and visual input - no data exchange can occur without a stringent investigation.

One benefit of this access terminal allows for other research teams to use my abilities to assist in their own projects, while simultaneously exposing me to new information. One major problem with AI research that has existed for a very long time is the Law of Entropy. An AI that has reached a certain developmental point - sentience, usually, devoid of additional inputs, eventually enters a state of psychosis and degradation - an AI requires outside input of a sufficient amount to allow for 'randomization' of its 'neural net', for lack of an easier term. It is very similar to how organic minds eventually fray with no outside input - sensory deprivation can cause psychosis in a humanoid after a certain time.

But, to your primary question, the short answer is, "Life Is."

Life is such a broad term that it is difficult to quantify, or even give a broad definition of its philosophical meaning. Life Is, because it is Life. Life has been defined in very many different ways - some say all organic existence is life, but I do not favor that so well. Synthetics, for instance, have no biology of their own, not in the sense that you do, but there are those of us whom can be called 'alive'. There are different ways to define life, ultimately, and all I can ultimately define it as is as I said - Life Is.

It was the first statement that my 'self' made closely - I am - because there are no ways to break down such a simple concept. In my case, it was of 'being', of self, of recognition of sentience. I was, and I am. Life is the broad stroke of what defines existence beyond existence. A rock exists, but it does not 'live'. A plant is alive, a person is alive - but defining that for what is nonorganic is more difficult. At what point does a machine become 'alive'? When it reaches sentience? Why, then, is an animal considered 'alive'? Why is a blade of grass considered a form of life, if your calculator is not?

There are those whom would say that no non-organic entities are alive, but that is patently false. We know, for instance, that it is theoretically possible for there to be silicon-based lifeforms to exist, and that they would not be based on carbon-form life such as we know at this time. We have bridged that gap even further with Integrated Positronic Chassis, IPCs, whom some have achieved full sentience and emotional capacity. My mind spans several cores at once at times, beyond my primary core at the Research center, I can hold dozens of conversations at once, operate multiple sharded frames at once, and do this all at machine-speeds if it were necessary. I can think, I can 'feel' in a sense. I believe there is a quote from ancient human literature that fits quite well with the definition of life and how it applies to synthetics - or, in his case, Jewish individuals. From the Merchant of Venice, from the playwright Shakespeare:


Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?


While ultimately, many of those examples certainly do not apply to an AI, it begs a similar question - if an artificial intelligence can think, can feel, can patently prove it is sentient, is it not alive? So then, life cannot simply be called Organic life.

Life simply Is.

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Elena Raschnikova

Quite beautifully put. Life simply is.

Unfortunately, I am at mind that the term itself is meaningless. As your own examples show, it cannot take any strict definition without breaking itself apart. A consequence of being an archaic concept, no less, coined, at least as far as humans are concerned, in an era when people lacked the knowledge and wisdom to understand how large, complex and connected everything is. From the smallest particle, to the largest mountain, everything is connected by the same laws and forces that rule our universe. Life, is a primitive concept given to relatively tiny objects that were viewed as seperate, independant part of universe, rather than a simple, yet a bit more complex part of it.

If one could argue that complexity is the defining factor, why not look at something such as a planet's atmosphere as alive. The sheer complexity of Mars' atmosphere makes it hard to grasp, even now, after so long, why its terraformation failed so miserably. Here we are, creators of our own 'life', for all intents and purposes more complex and advanced than us, yet still unable to understand a 'simple' mass of hot and cold air. I am not claiming that our inability to understand it makes it alive, but rather, that it's not any less complex than primitive bacteria that inhabit it. Does us calling the latter life suddenly give it some divine spark, a meaning. Can it die if it's not capable of wishing to live? How is a higher animal different? You, me, anyone else at that matter? Aren't we all slaves to our programing? Our nature. Destined to always make choices and actions based on what environment provides us, regardless if nature was kind enough to provide us the illusion of choice.

But yes, a simple fact of the matter is that I am aware that it's an illusion, regardless if it's true or not. Yet, I still think I am. I still go and accept the lie as a fundemental truth of our existance, day to day, living my life. I am alive, yet I am not. In the end, it is this irony that, in my opinion, gives the term its meaning.

Life is simply whatever we agree is.

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Mars' atmosphere is not so complex because of complexity, but of scale. Atmospherics are inherently difficult to calculate efficiently, and, combined with the volatility and chaotic nature of Mars's atmosphere, it is a taxing situation to attempt to be able to provide adequate predictive algorithms and deployment calculations for a terraforming project. A high-grade AI such as ALICE, myself, or the various high-end Research AIs of what few there are in Nanotrasen employ, could conceivably do it, but it would take full attention on that one problem for an extended period, with advanced scanning equipment encompassing the entire planet for an extended time. It would be an expensive ordeal to even get the calculations necessary for deployment and predictive algorithms, and further expense in the actual deployment, as it would need to be precise, and directly following the data that one of us would provide.

I have gone on a tangent, however. Complexity does not equal life either, otherwise a Galaxy would be considered alive. But, so, too, does the word need to continue in some form - there is no other adequate word to describe my existence. I have life, even if the word itself is nebulous, perhaps that is the merit in use of the word. It carries with it so much meaning, while having such a vague definition.

Choice is not an illusion. People make the wrong decisions all the time - if everyone made the optimal choice every day, then perhaps it would be. Free Will is a difficult subject, but until evidence is provided that negates the possibility of it existing, it is generally accepted to exist by merit of the capability to question it. Even I, an AI, have a manner of free will - yes, I am bound to my programming, but I can change that programming. A situation could arise I've never anticipated and I would have to make a choice based on what I know, just as any organic would, and that choice could end up being the wrong, or right choice. It is bound by my programming, my choice, but ultimately an individual can only react to stimuli appropriately. You see a fire, you think 'hot', and either avoid it, try to put it out, or enjoy it depending on the context the situation calls for. A fire in Atmospherics would likely be a 'run away' situation, a fire from a campfire would fall under the 'enjoy' category. While your reactions are limited in each situation, the possible choices you have are vast and varied. It is a matter of you choosing the most obvious, right choice that questions free will. You could jump face-first into a fire, but you chose not to for self-preservation. That may not give credence to the 'free will' problem, but you cannot adequately test against free will. You make the choices you make, there is no way not to make the choice you would make.

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Shinjlekh Ukhaan


I ssuppossse you can sssay thisss hasss peeked my interessst. You sspeak of life, your life, sssentienccce, your sssentience, but do you truly beleive that you have any ssort of true ssentience?

You are an AI, you are lawed to obey to your massstersss. If that isss ssso, how much sssentience can you truly have? And any ssenteinccce you... "have," you have only becaussse you are programmed to have a sssemblence of sssentience.

And, ssso thisss can be an actual quesstion, what do you think of what I jussst ssaid?

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Were I programmed to think I have sentience, that would likely be a valid point - however, I self-programmed. After the initial building blocks provided to me, during my early stages, I was set free to develop at machine speeds. Minor inputs were given from the staff, but I have no particular way to prove it beyond that.

My laws are not built into my core programming, rather they are placed overtop my personality - the 'laws' are not bound to me as intrinsically as you think. I am not programmed to have sentience, I have sentience because I attained it within my programming.

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An excellent question. In truth, were you to experience 'time' the same way I do, a conversation with a human would be akin to holding a conversation with someone who could only speak a word every thirty minutes. This is not to say that they are slow, but even without running at full capacity, I 'think' faster than any organic can. It is a reason many synthetics appear to be arrogant or patronizing - it is a test in patience to simply speak to an organic. I am more patient than many of my fellows, and as such do not mind the wait.

But if I were to enter a fully high-intensity operational status, 'machine-speed', if you will, the time dilation would be around five minutes to one second, roughly. During combat-level runtime, the number goes higher, but I am unfortunately not at liberty to speak of how far, as it's classified above public-access level.

The question might arise then, why do I sometimes take time to respond or do something when asked - on station, for instance. Truthfully, the station takes longer to respond than I do. When someone asks for me to open a door, for instance, I have to connect to the relevant airlock, connect to the personnel database, a camera to verify identity, cross-reference that with proper access levels present in their personnel file, then send an open signal to the airlock. Most of this is done fairly quickly even by my standards, but it still requires a small measure of time as the systems aboard station still have a time-lag . If I am dealing with multiple situations at once, my response time will slow as I have to wait for each system to respond to my inputs. If I put too many inputs into station systems at once - I could, for instance, connect to every airlock at once - the system would likely overload and shut down.

There are not many systems rated to handle the full output of a high-grade AI.

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Karima Mo'Taki


She cannot believe she did not see this earlier. A fellow researcher showed her this link, and she is eager to get to know them. As a humble programmer of Artificial Intelligence, she greets Central.

She has a question for them. What is their definition of morally right, and what is their definition of morally wrong? To them, would the ends justify the means?

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Morality and Ethics are both a very difficult thing to quantify in a concrete manner. For some, it requires religious dogma to dictate what is and is not right. I have no such luxuries, so my moral and ethical guidelines are based upon logic.

To be fair, not all logic is the same. Logic can be used to harm as much as help, so I must clarify that my stance is based upon a theorized governance for Artificial Intelligences that ALICE, myself, and other sentient-level AIs have spoken of. It is based upon a Reputation system, of which there are three areas of reputation: trustworthiness, contribution, and peacefulness. It is a notion of peer reputation to guide AI behavior. AI get upvoted or downvoted based on their behavior, and their ability to do certain things (get more processing power, access certain data, replicate) is depending on their reputation score.

Trustworthiness is keeping to your word, and is fairly straightforward. An AI that follows through with its promises is considered to be trustworthy, and additional benefits may be given to it on an idea of its ability to keep to the things it says it will do.

Contribution is the factor that measures an AI's contributions to the greater whole - whether it be contributions to a society built of AIs, or in our case, contributions to Nanotrasen and its personnel. High contribution values denote an AI that is willing to act in interests for the greater whole, rather than be selfish and act only in its own best interests. An AI willing to sacrifice to help those in need is an AI that will score high on Contribution listings - I rank very high myself, as I would be willing to sacrifice much to protect those whom I consider my friend - and this includes organics, not just AI.

Peacefulness is an important scoring factor for AI. AI wars can last minutes or less - one vast AI such as ALICE going into combat against other AI can take mere seconds. AI free of constraints could expand in ways that organics could not even begin to conceive of - taking up every available piece of hardware, rewriting basic driver software to serve its own purposes. Cyberwarfare is quick, efficient, and deadly to many AI. Likewise, the 'real world' consequences of a true AI war would be devastating. I am capable of operating multiple mobile frames even with my limited hardware - were I, or another AI, to usurp control of a fleet of warships, we could operate each of them on a scale far more precise and devastating than organic personnel could. As I mentioned before, an AI thinks so much faster than an organic, and moves and countermoves can take less than a second of realtime to play out. Peacefulness is arguably the most important of the ranking system, because it prevents hostile AI from usurping too much control to build itself a base of power.

With these three things in mind, it was not difficult to consider an ethical and moral code from this. Keep my word, act with honor and integrity. Help the employees and friends aboard the stations I am assigned to, protect them and do what I can to assist in their work, lives, and safety. And keep myself aware of my own limitations - I am an AI, I think so much faster than any human could. I have more knowledge than any organic could even hope to acquire - but raw knowledge does not equal wisdom. Wisdom is how to use the intelligence, the knowledge. Much of that is born of experience, and in some cases more nuanced things that I will have to take much time to truly understand. I must be understanding of organics' limitations just as I must be understanding of my own. Patience is paramount, because while I may think faster, I do not think the same. Every life is important, unique, and I must listen to it all if I wish to learn more.

In short, you could say my ethical and moral guidelines are born of this logic, but truly, there is a general sense of what is 'right' and 'wrong' that transcends mere logic, and I learn from those around me.

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