In the Halo video game series and associated novels, when an AI reaches the end of its service life, it typically becomes rampant. Rampancy appears to resemble dementia in the way it affects the AI and its actions

My question is: could an AI overcome rampancy? Possibly by producing a fragment of themselves like Cortana does in the novels and then recompiling themselves, akin to restoring a backup onto a separate computer?

Given that all Halo AI's are made from human brains, and their neural pathways are entirely based upon the human they are cloned from, couldn't the original donor just clone their brain again and allow the AI to imprint upon the cloned brain? Again, like restoring a backup.

  • I'm not sure creating a new AI with the same materials really counts as "overcoming rampancy". It's just making another AI. As for actually beating it, the possibilities that come up in Halo 5 are the only ones I can remember offhand. Also, are you sure all AIs are made from cloned human brains? I think Cortana said she's the only AI created from human tissue or something like that in Halo 5. – Ixrec Feb 18 '16 at 9:31
  • @Ixrec All UNSC 'smart' AI's , like Cortana, Roland etc are created by scanning the neural pathways of a human brain, as noted here. As for the events of Halo 5, I am unaware as i have not played that. Could you elaborate and cite sources? – Jarad Ducroq Feb 18 '16 at 9:42
  • I forgot to add, that the brain is usually from a deceased individual – Jarad Ducroq Feb 18 '16 at 9:49
  • 2
    Sure, I was being vague to avoid spoiling you, but now that you've asked: 1) Cortana suggesting Halsey might be able to cure rampancy because she's "generated from living tissue" in Halo 4 (I thought it was in 5 for some reason). 2) Cortana claiming she can cure rampancy in Halo 5. I couldn't find the line that stated this became possible because she found the Forerunner Domain network, but I'll look again when I get home if no one's posted an answer by then. – Ixrec Feb 18 '16 at 9:58

This is soooomewhat addressed in the novels. In one of them, Cortana infiltrates a Combine space station and begins to utterly devour the information there. She very rapidly finds herself overwhelmed with the amount of data. Rampancy, as explained in the books, is due to AIs acquiring so much data that they begin to overthink everything which ends up driving then insane. I'm simplifying things for the answer, but they more or less think themselves to death. Cortana notes that she is being overwhelmed with data and knows the dangers inherent in that. She finds a Combine program that allows her to rapidly stamp out inferior copies of herself. The first few are more or less used as data backpacks to take home. Others are sent out along the space station to cause mischief and help the Spartans.

I think I remember her being terrified in the Halo novel that takes place during the first game, because being in the Halo system, she was accumulating such enormous stores of data at such a terrifying pace that it was like drinking from a firehouse- and there was nowhere and no real way to dump the data. As a result, she was really, truly desperate by the time Master Chief finally returned with 343 Guilty Spark.

So yes, if an AI is willing and capable of dumping memories and extra data, they should be able to restore themselves back to normalcy. But the opportunities to do so are limited and the AIs themselves rarely have enough presence of mind to do such; remember that Cortana is very different from other AIs. While other AIs are programmed for teaching, tactics, or running ships, Cortana is designed for covert ops. As such, she is able to pretty much tap into and run any system, and has a consequential increased capability and self awareness that other AIs lack. Simplified: she is smarter than other AIs and can recognize dangers to her own emotional and intellectual stability better than them. This is also why she is able to function far, far past the usual 10 year death-by-rampancy typical of AIs.

However, even Cortana knows that it is a losing battle- too many memories become integrated into her personality gestalt and can not be removed. As such there is a definite functional lifetime, even with her. Dumping memories stops being effective when they are integrated into your gestalt- you begin to try to save your mind from insanity by cutting off parts of your own brain.

So to sum up: yes it is possible, up to a point, but rarely occurs.

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