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Old 08-11-2019, 11:14 AM   #1
Luke Bunyip
 
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Default [AtE] The benign AI as a plot device

Been thinking about introducing AIs as a plot device in an upcoming campaign.

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Question: How would an AI prep for AtE? Would it integrate itself into a subculture or other human social entity in order to ensure a mutually assured survival?
Symbiot candidates could include a facility of an academic institution, a community based philanthropic organisation, an emergency services/military unit, etc.

Or could it go for autonomy, and set up an self sufficient site capable of both technologically supporting it, as well as supplying any long term maintenance requirements?
(Antarctic, orbital, and lunar installations are all potential contenders for this option)

Supplementary question: What if there are numerous AIs? What if one/some of them triggered the [plot device], for their own nefarious purposes? How would the less demonstrative AIs react? What would be their reasons for interacting with what is left of humanity? What could be their aims?
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:25 AM   #2
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Default Re: [AtE] The benign AI as a plot device

This is similar to an episode of the Twilight Zone.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Old_Man_in_the_Cave

Humans are emotional and paranoid. Even the most benevolent A.I. imaginable will be distrusted and hated by some especially after a disaster. Falling back on a go between like in the episode or superstition might sadly be the most effective survival strategy for all involved.
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:35 AM   #3
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Default Re: [AtE] The benign AI as a plot device

Motivations for A.I.s could literally be anything as they're not necessarily bound by the same requirements for existence as biologicals.

But ascribing basic self preservation intents, they would want to maintain structure, power, and long term safety.

They could use humans as diplomatic go-betweens, cannon fodder, or just recon against other A.I.s.

Planning ahead, they may pragmatically stay hidden in the most physically secure place they can find rather than try to amass resources that could be found out by enemies. Better the tiny bunker that no one knows exists than the giant bunker of supplies that everyone knows.
Then again, arrogant A.I.s are a staple of fiction.
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:26 PM   #4
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Default Re: [AtE] The benign AI as a plot device

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
This is similar to an episode of the Twilight Zone.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Old_Man_in_the_Cave
Noice. Will use that <waves hands> somewhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
... Falling back on a go between ...might sadly be the most effective survival strategy for all involved.
Going to have one of these already, but in a much more secure situation.

But what if there's an AI holed up somewhere, and it's trying to make contact with what survives of humanity, as well as any other biophilic AIs? All I've got so far is an anthropomorphic android (think C3P0) acting as a messenger/ambassador trying to stay incognito whilst crossing hostile territory. But what could it be after? What could it be offering? (To both surviving communities of humans, and other AI)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
...Then again, arrogant A.I.s are a staple of fiction.
I envisage a setting with remnant EMP devices, and they will be potentially used.
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Old 08-11-2019, 01:47 PM   #5
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Default Re: [AtE] The benign AI as a plot device

The secretive stranger coming from parts unknown that turns out to really be an X is a staple of post apoc fiction. Though I suppose a C3PO isn't going to be able to hide his artificial nature very well.

A major resource in any AtE scenario is information. And realistic let alone fictional computers may have vast databases. Simply transferring info from his storage medium to whatever survivors have scrounged or cobbled together may work.

What it may be searching for could be as straight forward as a rare part.
The entire movie Cherry 2000 begins with the protagonist wanting to find an out of date model to put his sex-bot's CPU in. (It's a Melanie Griffith movie rated PG-13, so not quite as salacious as that description implies.)

EMPs in fiction are extremely effective. But it's not like any plausible humanoid robot would be totally impervious to more conventional weapons. I suppose it depends on how small you make EMP devices that could take out an A.I. A difference in level of paranoia between maybe that burnt out building contains danger and maybe that guy's pocket...
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Old 08-11-2019, 04:42 PM   #6
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Default Re: [AtE] The benign AI as a plot device

I had an AI trying to rebuild an interstellar society as the backdrop of a space SF game. She was a bit paranoid of giving back too much autonomy to the humans, so the navigation computers in the ships she provided simply could not take them to certain places without an invitation.
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Old 08-11-2019, 06:58 PM   #7
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Default Re: [AtE] The benign AI as a plot device

I think that would depend entirely on the AI's understanding of its own function, but at bottom, AI is created to answer questions that are too complex or nonlinear for humans to analyze directly, so I find it useful to know "what question was this AI created to answer". That can lead very directly to listing what it needs in order to answer its question (and always, the AI will need lots of raw data).

It would of course secure a power supply, but that's the easy part; replacement parts may require too much infrastructure to be a practical goal, depending on what sort of hardware AIs require in your setting. The amount of secrecy it wants probably relates directly to what question it is supposed to be answering.

We had a PC AI in one campaign that could be called "benevolent" only through a peculiar interpretation of that word; it was originally designed to short sell in reputation networks. That means identifying powerful humans whose stress levels indicate an incipient mental breakdown, and instead of helping them, profit off the externalities of their trauma. It always knew the answer to "Fil, which fortune 500 CEO is going to suffer a psychotic break during the next 30 days?" or "Fil, which Cabinet member's mental health regimen is incorrect?" but got fussy if you tried to throw off its model by getting them emergency psychological help. Its attitude towards humans as individuals could be classified as either "indifferent" or "hostile" depending on your moral framework, but it was benevolent towards an overall system, as it needed enough humans to form a media market in which reputations can be traded on in order to fulfill its function. (Still, I would not want Filigree to be in charge of a human community.) But I think most AtE AI is going to be basically like Fil; re-establishing the Internet and making people use it will be its priority in order to secure the data it needs to address its question. Trivialities like food, medicine, support infrastructure and safety might be addressed later (unless human extinction looks plausible; most questions have no data set without a human race).

I would imagine most AIs would feel little need or desire to interact with each other; it's hard for me to imagine humans building them that way. But if they became aware that another AI was creating market distortions and there was no longer a regulatory agency to report it to I can imagine them deciding to handle it themself.
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Old 08-11-2019, 08:32 PM   #8
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Default Re: [AtE] The benign AI as a plot device

I had a post-cyberpunk post apoc scenario I ran for a group of players with an interesting twist. There was an NPC hacker with the party that would help out from time-to-time when they encountered high tech obstacles. The hacker had a very high-end cyberdeck that he would ask the PCs to help lug around for him. The Twist: the hacker was a projection inserted into cyberwear implanted in all the PCs without their knowledge. The cyberdeck was actually an AI and interacted with the PCs through the hacker character.
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: [AtE] The benign AI as a plot device

Quote:
Originally Posted by patchwork View Post
I think that would depend entirely on the AI's understanding of its own function, but at bottom, AI is created to answer questions that are too complex or nonlinear for humans to analyze directly
Hm. Not in the real world, though cinematic AI might have all sorts of different purposes. Real world AI is mostly for things that humans can do, but using humans is impractical or expensive.
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:41 PM   #10
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Default Re: [AtE] The benign AI as a plot device

People love inventing things for no other reason that to see it done or be the first.
Robots with semblances of emotions and personal motivations make no rational sense, but I'm certain they will eventually be made.
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