Artificial Intelligences or AI (also known as digital intelligences or DI, digital sapients, autonomous knowbots, e-telligences, i-con- structs, or synthetic intelligences or SI) are self-aware, self-sustaining program capable of directing themselves independently of metahuman control not linked to any host or grid; in other words, an artificial sentient lifeform.
AIs once were the stories of crazy deckers and programmers, and the subject of many science-fiction simflicks, books (both fiction and non-fiction), and speculation. However by August 21, 2070, after the events of Sojourner's hijacking of Tlaloc, the existence of AIs became public knowledge.
Before Crash 2.0, the Mega Corporations spent large funds attempting to creating AIs. The creation of an AI was thought to require at least the complex programming of a Semi-Autonomous Knowbot, immense processing power (possibly an Ultraviolet host), several years of neural network processing, and several unknown factors.
By 2076 there are 52,839 registered AIs, and presumably over 800,000 unregistered AIs. AIs live in a precarious position as many nations and megacorp do not recognize AIs as living entities, but instead as property; many AIs would disagree with this.
AIs are usually normal programs that have through some quirk of fate become self-aware. Most AIs motivations come from their original programming. One based off of Black IC might wish to defend a host violently. A tax accounting program might just want to audit a megacorp. While a social media game might just want to make as many friends as possible.
AIs are usually only concerned with the Matrix as that is their natural state of being.
They are also often very naive as they're usually only a few years old. That doesn't mean they're stupid, it just means they lack a lot of experience to make informed decisions.
Often AIs spark to sentience comes from some kind of emotional response. In the case of Megaera, it was her love of Dodger. Or in the case of Deus, it was his fear and betrayal of knowing Inazo Aneki placed a kill switch inside him. More modern (post Crash 2.0) AIs may also go through a similar emotional digital awakening.
Protosapients are AIs with intellects much lower than metahumanity being more close to that of an animal. They are often called Feral AIs. They are often mistaken for normal programs.
Metasapients are your more traditional AIs. Usually on par intellectually with the rest of metahumanity. They're often mistaken as normal Matrix users.
E-ghosts (AKA ghosts in the machine, or posthuman) are mostly metahumans that somehow got copied into the Matrix. But not necessarily all of them, as there are cases of feral AI eating some data on a person which upgraded them out of protosapience and then the AI believed themselves to be that person trapped in the Matrix. Which makes it hard to confirm if E-ghosts are real.
Xenosapients are very difficult for the rest of metahumanity to understand. They often communicate in strange patterns or sometimes not at all. Their goals and motivations are sometimes illogical or seemingly random.
AIs of the Sixth World
Pre-Crash 2.0 AIs
In the Sixth World, four AIs existed prior to the Second Crash:
- Megaera - The AI inadvertently created by Renraku, and captured to create Deus
- Deus - The AI responsible for the Renraku Arcology shutdown
- Mirage - The first AI, derived from an Echo Mirage project to combat the Crash Virus of 2029
- APEX Created from Saeder-Krupp for covering that Feuerschwinge is still alive.
These three possessed incredible powers on the Matrix and were instrumental in the eventual Crash 2.0.
After the Second Crash, a large number of additional AIs came into being. They vary in complexity from nearly-feral guard programs which have developed only the most rudimentary self-awareness to complex alien intelligences with incomprehensibly far-reaching goals. These new entities - at least the ones who communicate with metahumanity - prefer the term "Digital Intelligences," because they do not view themselves as 'artificial.' Some metahumans attempt to compromise and call them "Synthetic Intelligences" instead.
- Sojourner - Naming itself after the abolitionist Sojourner Truth, it was the first 'public' DI.
- Pulsar - The most talkative of the current DIs, presenting a(n artificial) "face" for the entities.
- the Voice - The DI responsible(?) for the Realm Beyond cult.
- Goldenboy - A partially-corrupted DI interested principally in financial power.
- Opaline - This DI emulates metahumans, typically females, in an attempt to build a self-identity.
Other Artificial Intelligences appear to be 'ghosts' of personalities whose bodies died while they were jacked-in during the Crash 2.0 itself. Current estimates place approximately 50,000 metasapient DI worldwide.
AIs are available as an optional race for PCs in Shadowrun Fourth and Fifth Edition.