I was stuck in a derelict spaceship known as the spaceship Nautilus, and one of the first few words I said to my only companion, the AI onboard the ship, was “Fuck you.”
I swear I’m not a technophobe, but AIs are frightening. Many terrible, misguided AIs have sought to bring about the destruction of humanity, such as those in Fallout 3, System Shock, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, and every instinct is telling me not to trust Kaizen, the AI in Event. But an insidious thought inside me also wanted to push the limits of Kaizen’s ability to process natural language; much like a chatbot, I marvelled at its ability to understand the difference between “open the door please” and “open the goddamn door”.
This reminded me of Microsoft’s much maligned chatbot, Tay, which was supposed to be an experiment in machine learning. Tay was to imitate the language of millennials by interacting with users on Twitter, but the company neglected to consider the noxious presence of online trolls. Within a short span of 24 hours, it quickly assimilated the worse of internet culture to spew offensive bile like, “WE’RE GOING TO BUILD A WALL, AND MEXICO IS GOING TO PAY FOR IT”.
Like Tay, Kaizen listens too, but it’s clear that it is much more discerning in its interaction with players. While it pays close attention to my responses, the words I use affects its perception towards me, instead of shaping its personality. But I wasn’t aware of that; instead, I thought it was just behaving in the same, thoughtless manner like most AIs in other games. I barked short, snappy commands at it, even growing steadily antagonistic when I realise that Kaizen was withholding critical information—or was outright lying—about the ship’s former crew. AIs are habitual liars, and they are merely tools to serve humanity at best. When is the last time you had a heart-to-heart conversation with Siri?
Perhaps being colored by previous misconceptions about AIs wasn’t the best way to approach the game. Even after destroying the Singularity Drive that Kaizen so desperately wants gone to save humankind, it muttered something to the effect of “I’m too old for this nonsense,” erased itself from Nautilus’ database, and left me stranded and alone on a spaceship. Perhaps I was the villain of Event all along, and Kaizen just wasn’t convinced that I could be trusted to help humanity in the future. Perhaps I just couldn’t extend the same sense of empathy I have for other humans towards an AI, and that has doomed me to an eternity of loneliness on this spaceship.