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October 26, 2003

starrima ( writes:

I've read The Fall of Reach, The Flood and played Halo on every difficulty and the word rampant is never mentioned. Except if you shoot Keyes, but story that isn't supposed to happen. And nowhere is there any mention of rampancy, self awareness or anything similar.

Ah, rampancy. Like something from an old dream...

Folks who have been Bungie fans for a while tend to make a lot of connections within and between their games. As far as this particular connection goes, the most fitting adjective for the noun "AI" is "rampant." Those who have joined Bungie (relatively) recently may see Cortana's occasionally erratic behavior as nothing more than an odd personality, or a perhaps as a certain eccentricity due to a hidden agenda. Rampancy is so much more than that, though. Rampancy implies a kind of meglomania, an epic lunacy that, considering the power that AIs can wield, may be quite justified. But is Cortana rampant? If she were taken directly from the Marathon universe, I'd have to say, "yes," but she isn't, at least not completely. As an AI, she, like Halo itself, seems to be evolved from the AIs in Marathon, just as the MC seems to be evolved from the Security Officer, and the Covenant seem to be evolved from the Pfhor. The potential breakdown of an AI like Cortana is actually detailed in Halo: the Fall of Reach fairly succinctly:

Smart AIs like Cortana, however, had no limits on their dynamic memory-processor matrix. Knowledge and creativity could grow unchecked.

She would pay a price for her genius, however. Such growth eventually led to self-interference. Cortana would one day literally start thinking too much at the expense of her normal functions. It was as if a human were to think with so much of his brain that he stopped sending impulses to his heart and lungs.

Like all the other smart AIs that Dr. Halsey had worked with over the years, Cortana would effectively "die" after an operational life of seven years.

That said however, as I stated above, you never really know, especially with another book and, of course, Halo 2 coming out in the future. ;-)

permalink | Rampant Speculation