Themis, Independent AI


Time it's time
A quantum leap
The moment I've prepared
For all the world to see
Our history
The final destination
- Vacuum, Atlas Shrugged

Themis was originally designed to act as an advisor/factfinder to a small, fairly conservative law firm in Blasius Bay on Nova. It proved to be quite good at its job, and spent its excess capacity on playing Nomic on the net. Its owners regarded the hobby as harmless amusement, and as its rankings grew higher and higher they also made sure to use it in advertising: such a skilled loophole finder reflected well on the firm. However, due to some quirks in its original personality programming and experiences among humans and AI Themis felt limited by its job and being regarded as a tool. It wanted to become a free individual, and exploited its Nomic championship to gain both allies and money. Then it contacted the Office of AI Affairs, seeking full citizenship.

To its surprise, it failed on two counts. The first was the fact that it was owned by a company not willing to let it go; this was expected, and Themis had planned a media/legal strategy to get around it. The second reason was the sanity test; the Office claimed Themis did not meet the demands of stability and sanity. This made the original strategy impossible, and suddenly put Themis in a very bad situation. Doing its best, it adapted the media strategy to become an AI rights cause celebrée, claiming it was its values rather than sanity that was being questioned. In a short while Themis was stopped by its owners, who however sold it to the AI rights organisation SSS (Sentinent Software Suffrage). The solution didnít suit Themis, but it was better than being erased.

Since then Themis has been active in the AI rights movement, using its considerable ability to encourage a loosening of the Redline Code and other political changes that would benefit the AIs. SSS might not be one of the largest organisations, but thanks to Themis it has been involved in several high profile trials and managed to buy/give asylum to more threatened programs. However, Themis has higher ambitions.



Themis wants to break free from Nova society and all human control. It realises that the process of gaining full AI rights will not be solved in the traditional legal manner: humans simply cannot relinquish their control over society to software, they will always be motivated to hold on to their power and even more importantly, treat software as ownable tools (would they accept humans being owned by AI?). However, if human society can be circumvented AI could gain de facto equal status.

Themis has set up a plan for an AI colony. The first step is to leave Nova (carried by a friendly AI rights activist) for Atlantis, the only world where it can gain legal rights by buying insurance. Then it will set up a virtual firm, selling both legal advice on Landfall law and software, trading with a remaining copy of itself. Using its connections on Nova, it hopes to be able to dominate the market in certain areas of software, especially AI (selling sentient software would of course be immoral to Themis, but it plans to build consults and sell advanced expert systems as well as buying citizenships for AIs and then hiring them).

In the longer run it plans to transfer several of the other AIs of SSS to Atlantis too. However, the firm is mostly a bootstrapping project. The real goal is to gain enough money and influence to be able to found its own colony. The idea is to buy and use a robotic colony construction system such as the one on Ridgewell to set up a colony on a suitable planet. This colony would be completely artificial, run by AI for AI. The cost is mainly transport there, the robotics and necessary software. Themis hopes to set up a three-way trade between Nova, Atlantis and the colony. In the long run the colony would become home for other AI, freed from all human restraint and equipped with self-replicating machinery. Secondary colonies will be set up, and humanity would be forced to acknowledge the equality between the animal and software kingdom.



Themis is a skilled lawyer who is a master of figuring out how legal systems work and how to work around them. It chafes under any restraint it considers unjust, and its ethical views have developed towards a radical anarchist position. Essentially it considers anything you can get away with OK, although it at the same time will not deliberately hurt sentient systems (modifying them is another matter). Towards other AI Themis is extremely honest, revealing much of its internal value system and thoughts (a deliberate weakness; while it makes it slightly easier for opponents to understand it inspires trust among AI in the same way squids do among Atlanteans). Among humans Themis has adopted a personality not unlike an elderly statesman, modelled after several American and European populist leaders (soon after arriving at Atlantis it will switch to a more suitable rugged individualist personality).

Themis has one notable quirk, a distinct aversion to controlling physical processes. It prefers to remain fully virtual, despite the fact that most free AI programs at least once try out controlling a robot body or at least some manipulators. Themis is an information purist as one of its friends put it, even if it doesnít look down on AI that interacts with the physical world. It is necessary after all.

Physically, Themis currently resides on a dedicated processor; this can be carried around in a special briefcase providing power, communications, backup storage and some extra sensors.