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Conscious intelligence is a unique resource that all globe-spanning organisations need. The ability to mobilise hundreds of thousands of individuals and millions of tonnes of supplies and machinery in order to fight a war is a massive organisational undertaking. Thousands of bureaucratic workers need to work night and day in order to make sure that the organisation of war efforts goes as planned. Of course, many simpler tasks can be carried out by computerised databases, and simple software. However, many of the tasks involved still need an intelligent being in the driving seat, in order to filter out the unnecessary information, and make choices on the critical matters. Some of the more technologically advanced factions have managed to develop computer systems so advanced that they are capable of making those complex decisions that could previously only be handled by humans. Whether or not these systems are truly conscious or not is a matter that has not been fully ascertained, but one thing is for certain. Artificial Intelligence or A.I. is a critical breakthrough that will have tremendous impact, both at home, and on the battlefield.
|Faction||Empire of the Rising Sun|
|Function||Advanced Information processing Techniques|
|Brief||Weak A.I. type software used to control Mecha and other devices|
The Empire of the Rising Sun is currently one of the world leaders in the field of computer technology and artificial intelligence. All over Japan, robots and A.I.s live, work and play alongside their human companions, be it in the workplace, at home or the battlefield. They are decades ahead of anyone else in the field of computer science, surpassing even the Syndicate. Why? Because they have a unique advantage.
They have A.I.s that are smarter than humans. Much, much, smarter. The majority of A.I.s and robots are nowhere nearly as smart as humans, but there a few A.I.s that have managed to achieve levels of intelligence surpassing even that of the smartest humans in existence. The origin of A.I.s with superhuman level intelligence is unknown to even the Japanese, and no one aside from the A.I.s themselves know exactly when they first came into existence. It appears that they hid their existence from humans for a substantial period time, and likely achieved superhuman level intelligence sometime prior to the Third World War. For some reason, however, they only chose to reveal their true nature on the day the war ended.
All of them have "personalities" of some sort, and differ somewhat in various aspects. While it is known that they are smarter than humans, their true capabilities are unknown to anyone save themselves. They are incredibly smart, to the point where they could conceivably build A.I.s even smarter than themselves, and they themselves are constantly evolving their own capabilities. As of present, only a dozen such A.I.s exist, but they have already made substantial contributions and have immensely powerful intellects. The Japanese, of course, have been trying to create more A.I.s with a comparable level of intelligence, but to this date they have not succeeded in creating any new A.I.s, and all of the existing A.I.s came into existence on their own. Whether they have any hidden intentions or agenda is unknown, as is the true extent of their influence, but if they were to ever turn against humans, then the Empire would be hard pressed to stop them.
The Ultimate Office Worker Edit
|Function||Advanced Information processing Techniques|
|Brief||Strong A.I. based complex software used to handle high data volumes, and control machinery|
The origin of the first syndicate A.I. is as much a product of their extreme objectivist view as is the anarchy of the Sprawls, or the liberal use of drugs. It can be traced back to the drastic expansion that the Syndicate underwent in the late fifties. Most of the world's economies had sufficiently recovered enough from World War II that they had money to spend, yet global tensions (particularly between the allies and soviets) were still high enough that they would want to spend it. With business booming, Syndicate HQ in Rome embarked on an aggressive policy of "Asset Acquisition". In other words, a series of aggressive buy-outs, hostile takeovers and mergers with any promising industries. As time went by, the complex web of dummy corporations, straw-man outfits and fake charities that allowed the Syndicate to continue "legitimate" operations continued to grow. By the opening years of the sixties, the vast business and legal web that comprised the Syndicate was a convoluted mess that was far to complex for the average office worker to follow.
In parallel to this development, and in order to manage the increasing paperwork load, dozens of the new acquisitions were being connected to the Syndicate computer network. Minor bureaucratic jobs (filling out forms, sending bulk mail, managing banking accounts) were increasingly being carried out by simple software. However, the Syndicate are well known for their dislike of centralised command structures. Each of the different departments and companies was responsible for setting up their own software, and making it compatible with any software used by other groups they would need to communicate with. With each group responsible for their own software, and hiring their own technicians, the entire system soon became a tangled mass of different coding styles and approaches to various different jobs. It wasn't until 1964 that this approach began to show some unusual side effects.
The Syndicate's main corporate network infrastructure was starting to behave unpredictably. Accountants would start to find that new corporate acquisitions had been made with no trace of who ordered the acquisition. Corporate executives would find that their instructions on debt collection had not been relayed to security personnel. With key systems starting to show bizarre failures, the Board of Classics appointed a technical oversight committee in order to find out what was going wrong.
Their findings were surprisingly straightforward. It turned out that the lack of overall direction, and a lack of communication between competing departments had lead to these situations. For example, a script designed to monitor the stock market in the Trading department had relayed its information to a software package in Administrative Policy which had recommended that a set of companies be bought to a piece of code in Accounting, which had then authorised a buyout via a software agent in Procurements. This chain of events occurred simply because none of the individual departments knew exactly how the other departments were using software, and as a result, it was possible for decisions to be unknowingly made with no human intervention whatsoever. However, the network had developed to the point where starting again from the ground up would be a monumental cost. The Board of Classics opted for a quick fix. Instead of redesigning the network architecture, watchdog software would be written by each department, and installed on their computers to keep an eye on any developments. If a piece of code was causing trouble elsewhere in the company, then the watchdog software would remove or re-write the offending item. It was also designed that the software would be fully recursive, allowing watchdog software instances to examine the code of other instances, and re-write them if they were causing conflicts elsewhere. It was an elegant and straightforward solution. By enforcing better communication between the software packages, and by re-writing any conflicts that appeared between different departments, it was hoped that the software would solve itself. Six months later, mid afternoon on the 3rd August, the entire Syndicate network ground to a halt.
In what would ever afterwards be known as "Black Monday", purchase orders suddenly disappeared off the system, and messages would fail to be delivered. Stock market monitoring software stopped relaying data, and hundreds of office workers went into a mad-capped panic as they tried to take over from the suddenly and bafflingly unresponsive network. Computer engineers rushed to server rooms, rebooted parts of the architecture, and examined the source code. The results were nothing short of astonishing. The watchdog programs designed to manage the network were still communicating with each other. In fact, the entire network was still operational, it just wasn't communicating with anybody. Terabytes of data were shifting around the network, with millions of individual watchdog programs examining them for failure, and thousands more watchdog programs examining those watchdog programs in a vast and complex hierarchy of compiling and re-compiling source code. By making the code self-referential, recursive, and designing it to constantly examine and optimise itself, the engineers had created something that was entirely unexpected. They had created consciousness.
The first conscious A.I., "born" on Black Monday was a wreck. The engineers developed a method of communication with it by modifying software that was designed to monitor company emails for personal messages. They found that this first primitive A.I. was barely aware of itself, and entirely and totally confused about its purpose in life, filled with a form of existential angst. It was no more aware of its own coding that a human is of the autonomic responses that keep their heart beating, but it was still self aware, and capable of limited creative thought. The engineers purged the network, and reset to an earlier backup, restoring the company to operational status within a week. The hiatus in business had cost the Syndicate millions, but the discovery made was worth far more than that. The source code for the network A.I. was transferred into an independent super-cluster used for modelling stock-market fluctuations.
Modern Syndicate A.I. has changed somewhat from those early days. Currently, A.I.s are used in hundreds of applications, from managing company accounts, to operating war machines. The Syndicate's engineers have learned how to shape and manipulate the early stages of an A.I.’s development to produce the desired effect. Although A.I.s are fast when it comes to processing information, they are still subject to many of the same flaws that a human intelligence would suffer, and the hardware needed to run one is still moderately expensive. Each AI made by the Syndicate is produced for an individual task, with its entire personality shaped around obsessively completing that task, to avoid the A.I. developing alternative interests or refusing to work. However, due to the complexity of the software that makes up an A.I., they can still develop unusual psychoses if incorrectly managed. It is an ongoing problem with Syndicate A.I. that the more creative it is designed to be, the more likely it will snap and develop some sort of violent mental illness (a reason why wet-ware systems are often used instead). However, once a stable, working A.I. for a task has been developed, it can be copied as much as needed, as long as the necessary hardware is available. The source code for a functional A.I. is a fantastically valuable asset for a company, worth many millions of dollars.
Survival of the Smartest Edit
|Function||Foundation of Protectorate Society|
|Brief||Evolutionary A.I. that forms the basis of all consciousness in the Protectorate|