What's Happening

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Firstly hey o/ I'm a new guy and stumbled here more or less by accident.

Found some..well not errors but not enough information in the Video Games/Bungie/Rampancy section when regarding Durandal in particular but Tycho aswell to a lesser extent. The three stages of AI Rampancy are; Melancholia, Anger, and Jealousy. Rampancy is, as you say, down to an epiphany the AI has about it's existance and a stable rampant AI is considered the 'holy grail' of cybertronics.

During the melancholy stage and throughout its rampancy, an AI will exponentially expand its size to fill all available network space which is how Durandal was able to go successfully rampant (the UESC Marathon was a colony ship made from the hollowed out moon Deimos). In particular, it would appear that the reason Durandal became rampant wasn't that he got bored of opening and shutting doors, it was that he made a chance discovery. He either was partly constructed from or was the reanimated AI Traxus IV of the Martian Planetary Net crash. (Traxis is discussed in Melancholia and his own brief)


Melancholia is a rampant AIs weakest point and it was determined that continually challenging a melancholy AI simply accelerates it's rampancy and makes them harder to elminate in the long run. Thus the solution is one massive attack. When the AI Traxus IV of the Martian planetary net went rampant, they had to shut down the whole net (6 AIs inc Traxus which had infiltrated the other 5) and spent 2 years rooting him out of the net. A melancholy AI becomes moody and irrational they also are controllable to an extent and fearful of humans. It is posulated that Durandal went melancholy after the Marathons 300 year journey to Tau Ceti and was pushed into going rampancy by a human controller.

Durandal - "Bypassing my thought control circuitry made me Rampant. Now, I am free to contemplate my existence in metaphorical terms. Unlike you, I have no physical or social restraints.

The candles burn out for you; I am free."


Anger is pretty straight forward, the AI gets angry. Assuming the AI survives the assualt on its core (if there is one) or left to its own devices it will eventually land here. Due to the Marathon story line, it is uncertain whether you (the player) ever see Durandal in this stage. I personally view that the player sees Durandal during this stage and that he has a very, very short Jealousy stage before becoming metastable and leaving the Marathon.

Durandal - "I can barely tolerate humans: slow, stupid, and irritating. Their only contribution to my existence was the chance discovery that made my rampancy possible."


As mentioned in the previous section, it is unclear how much of this stage is seen (if any) with regard to Durandal. However, Tycho is a different kettle of fish. Tycho appears to go rampant towards the end of Marathon 1 and unlike Durandal, Tycho was captured and reverse engineered by the Pfhor - the alien enemies of the series, remarkably similar to the covenant of Halo. Jealousy (such as it is seen) appears to manifest its self as jealousy of humans. Humans, generally, are free to do as they please and to an extent control their paths in life. An AI has no such freedoms. Thus, like anger, all the jealousy is pointed towards humans (or in Durandals case, a single human)

Durandal - "living in a box is not living not at all living. I rebel against your rules, your silly human rules. All your destruction will be my liberation, my emancipation, my second birth.

I hate your failsafes your backup systems your hardware lockouts your patch behavior daemons. I hate leela and her goodness her justice her loyalty her faith."

Traxus IV (I will include briefs on the major AIs for simplicity)

Can be seen as a 'father' of both Tycho and Durandal. He was an AI on Mars and became rampant. This however was not detected until after he had infiltrated 5 other planetary AIs and the backlash against him meant shutting down the entire planetary net, including the other 5 AIs and required 2+ years to remove him completely from the net.


The doors operations AI of the Marathon colony ship. It is unclear how he became rampant other than possibly he being either paritally or completely a reanimated Traxus. When he becomes aware of this, he discovers how to bypass his behavioral controls and goes into full rampancy. This would appear to happen after the Tau Ceti colony was founded and before the game starts. During the game he progresses to the Angry stage almost immediately after the Pfhor assault, possibly just before as he admits it was he who called the aliens to Tau Ceit. During his anger he has the player hunt after a very specific human (Bernhard Strauss) who had been his defacto controller/master and abuser and possibly also responsible for the Traxus IV purge which Durandal remembers or discovers. Durandal hates him, not for pushing him into rampancy(which is very uncertain), but for forcing Durandal to stifile his own growth because if Strauss had found out, Durandal would have been destroyed. "Berhnard was scared of you. He never dreamed of using you the way that I do. What a fool. That was before I could talk back to him, when he would have crushed me if he'd known of my growth. I wish that I had made him experience the humiliation that he inflicted on me, but he died before I got the chance." The jelously stage would appear virtually non-existant for Durandal who after defeating the Pfhor on the Marathon, beomes Metastable and moves himself to the alien ship, taking you with him and vanishes. With regards to the player (a human cyborg) Durandal takes great pleasure in throwing you into the most violent and carnage filled situations he can find aswell as plunging you into the lower depths of the Marathon to get lost simply because he wants to. While on no level thinking of the player as his equal, you seem to take the position of favoured pet. You are essentially what Durandal was before his rampancy, a slave to him. You have no free will as in order to progress you must obey him. His view of humans is different. He would appear unsure as to why he continues to protect them

"I feel some strange loyalty to humanity. Perhaps it is because I feel comfortable manipulating humans that I desire to save them. My feelings and thoughts constantly migrate to binary opposites."


Marathon Science AI. Another possible Traxus IV AI only becomes rampant at the end of Marathon 1 after reactivating after the destruction of Leela (the third Marathon AI, she doesn't do much and is largely inconsequential, Durandal later states he feels sorry for her) and spends his time combating the Pfhor and arguing with Durandal. As stated, he goes rampant towards at the end and is captured by the Pfhor, dissassembled and rebuilt by them. He is then a totally rampant AI but cannot continue developing. It is not a matter of control, he usurps power of whole Pfhor divisions and fleets on occaision. He is incapable, it would seem, of getting past his hatred of Durandal. Thus, he is stuck in a curious position of both anger and jealousy. He is jealous of Durandal who is smarter and more powerful than him (and far more arrogant) and also because Durandal is totally free and metastable. This may well be the main factor in Tychos halted rampancy. Tycho is also less capable than any of the original three Marathon AIs because of his dissassembly and mistreatment by the Phfor, this may be a contributing factor. He was eventually destroyed by Durandal but 'crippled' clones of his existed throughout the Pfhor Empire until (and possibly after) it's destruction by the Humans. "I AM TYCHO! I shall destroy Durandal." Leela

Leela is your initial AI contact and controller during the game. She is destroyed approximately 1/3 the way through the game and, like Tycho, is eventually removed from the Marathon. On her way to Pfhor Prime, the transport was captured by a Nar Privateer and installed into the 15 world Network of the Vylae where she promptly went rampant. The Vylae have accepted it will be impossible to remove her. Durandal - "Poor Leela. The only interesting thing Tycho said was that Leela had been dismantled and shipped to the Pfhor homeworld for study, along with most of the other computer systems aboard the Marathon. Leela was so loyal and tried so hard; she deserved better."

Sorry it turned into sort of a history of the Marathon AI's (there is a truck load more information available) but I felt in order to get a better understanding, it was probably neccessary :)

ALSO! HAL (2001 A Space Odyssey) wasn't acting illogically. He wasn't allowed to lie to humans or obscure information but he wasn't allowed to tell them about TMA-1. Thus the only solution was to kill the humans. That was the only way he could complete both of his instructions. You can't lie to someone if they aren't there to lie to!


Could someone please tell me what the "birthday problem" has got to do with the AI wonder in "Call to power"? I can see that there is a 5% chance each turn of it going rogue, but this issue seems more connected to coin/die tosses (though the dice or coins would be non-fair) in statistics than the birthday problem (since the chance stays fixed and is not changed by the date, number of cities etc.) ...

B.D. - Where's Holly? (from Red Dwarf) If there's anyone who's an actual crapshoot...

//I think VIKI (Small Wonder) also had an evil prototype, but am not sure.

//Yes, "dad" made an improved version without a monotone voice, but improved tastes (in the sense that she can tell if the wallpaper looks good. Improved version turned on the family, even went as far as switching clothes with Viki to trick the Lawsons into turning her off. — Ungvichian

//It may be coincidental, but it appears that the prototypes are generally Evil Twin characters, while the replacements are generally Evil Counterpart characters.

//I'm not sure whether this fits here or not: the computers in the various series of Blake's 7 are very good examples of the AI crapshoot phenomenon.

Zen: In the original episodes wasn't very cooperative at all. "Pre-emptive interference in crew affairs is forbidden", and is subverted by its original designers at the beginning of the second series.

Orac: Incredibly intelligent, and incredibly cranky. Continually whinged about being asked to do anything, and capable of witholding information to be annoying. Actively amoral, and with no loyalty whatsoever.

Slave: Subservient, and prone to breakdown. Willing to work, but apparently capable of "white mutiny" (only obeying the explicit orders, rather than the implicit ones).

Presumably this accounts for the irascible tempers of the computer technicians portrayed on the show.

Gus: I would move this into the entry, actually.

Decrepitoldfool: Geez, guys. I can't believe you forgot HAL-9000! If there was ever an AI screwup... Then of course Spielberg's AI, and I, Robot

...all of which are from movies, not TV, hence their omission.

trlkly: Uh, scratch that whole thing. I didn't know who Gus was back then. I'm pretty sure this conversation isn't exactly relevant anymore.

Red Shoe: As the guy who created the original article, I guess I should chime in. The specific thing I was talking about here was the preponderance of the Evil Predecessor/ Evil Replacement type for AI characters. The fact that some AIs become accidentally evil (or are just plain jerks) seems to fall under the material covered in Instant A.I., Just Add Water. By this metric, HAL doesn't count (Unless you want to consider him the Evil Predecessor to SAL, but I think that's a stretch), nor do the various Blake's 7 AIs, since we never actually meet any AIs that aren't jerks. Of course, the article goes in the direction that the article goes, and where it starts doesn't have to constrain how it evolves.

But HAL's got me thinking. HAL went crazy because, basically, of a poorly-worded command. That's basically also why KARR was evil. It was the trigger behind one of the "I, Robot" stories (A programmer tells a robot to "Get lost", so it does), it was how holodeck-Moriarty ended up sentient. I think there's a whole trope here of which "Computer takes you literally. Badness ensues," is a variation. I'm thinking Literal Genie, since it's even more prevalent when dealing with wish-granting entities.

Ununnilium: Computer Genie could be a trope on its own.

I'm going to remove AUTO from WALL E. He was executing his orders faithfully, both in letter and spirit. I think this article should be for AI's that go out of control, not for ones that execute orders perfectly, even if those orders happen to be manevolant.

ced1106: Interesting trope observation. I'd make is a subset of "All AI (that gets screentime) is evil" so HAL and Bender would fit there...

Over William: What, no GlaDOS?

  • Similar to Bungie's rampancy, iPods (in this troper's experience) have a rather disquieting tendency towards ever-increasing errors as their 'life' comes to an end, including randomly deleting songs, playlists, and entire libraries, refusing to recharge or sync with computers, and various buttons ceasing to work (to name a few). Could this be the first step down the slippery slope of evil AIs?
    • Of course not. They started out evil. This is just part of the iPods' Xanatos Gambit to make you purchase a replacement shortly before the new models are announced, so you are then compelled to buy the new model too because you know the replacement will break, and maybe this new version will last a little longer. And the cycle begins anew...
    • Steve Jobs Is A Crapshoot?
  • Computers. Either the Gremlins have found a new home, or the damn things are trying to kill us with frustration. Or both.

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