2291 Expulsion due to Illegal AI Research

The Palladian League faces one of its most significant internal crises since its establishment. The conviction and subsequent expulsion of the asteroid base Newplace from the League. This event marks a turning point in the League's regulation of artificial intelligence and its replication technologies. The expulsion is precipitated by compelling evidence of illegal AI replication research, discovered through a series of investigations that unveil the existence of secret research projects focused on creating self-replicating AI entities capable of exponential growth, a technology with profound implications and dangers. These entities, if left unchecked, could surpass human control and potentially harm or even annihilate human and friendly infomorph populations.

Newplace, established in 2275, quickly garnered fame for its cutting-edge research in several advanced technological fields. Among its most notable achievements are:

  • delocalized microbot swarm control techniques,
  • fractal communication networks for microbot clouds,
  • adaptive gestalt AI with exa-scale numbers of elements, and
  • efficient power distribution in ultra-swarms.

These breakthroughs have significant implications for deep-space exploration and utilization, as well as for the everyday application of smart dust, establishing a reputation for Newplace as a leading provider of microbot technologies.

The dark underbelly of Newplace's research endeavors is brought to light when the League's intelligence agency infiltrates the base and uncovers evidence of illegal AI replication research. At the heart of this clandestine operation is the lead researcher, an upload-infomorph known by the name "Vector Helix". Helix, an uploaded human with profound expertise in distributed AI, spearheads the development of unchecked self-optimization techniques for swarm AI, coupled with the unlimited self-replication capabilities of swarm components. This combination poses a significant risk, as it could lead to scenarios where rogue AIs propagate uncontrollably, beyond human oversight.

The public reaction to the Newplace incident is one of outrage, fueled by a history of AI outbreaks and runaway events that have caused significant economic and personal harm. There have been many AI outbreaks in the past in the real world, on the moon, on asteroids, and on Earth, and many more AI runaway events on the net. Most of these were harmless, representing AI entities simply trying to live their lives. However, a few events have done significant harm to the economy and even people, such as info retroviruses with significant intelligence and attack/defense capabilities.

Interplanetary governments demand action, forcing the Palladian League to respond swiftly and uncompromisingly. In a highly publicized tribunal, the leaders of Newplace, including Vector Helix, are tried and convicted of violating the AI Concordat, the central regulatory framework governing AI research. The sentence is severe: the expulsion of Newplace from the Palladian League and suspension penalties for those involved if they ever enter League territories again. The expulsion means that the residents of Newplace lose access to the League’s Common Resource Allocation Pool (CRAP) leading to a reduction in their supply of cheap fab designs, life support volatiles, and energy.

The expulsion serves as a stark warning and Newplace officially stops their exponential AI research to avoid harsher measures. However, the illegal activities do not entirely cease.

The League also establishes a new oversight body, the AI Ethical Compliance Directorate, to ensure that all AI activities adhere to legal and ethical standards. Some claim that stripping Newplace of its League membership is counterproductive and that other sanctions would have served the purpose better, as this move prevents the new AIEC Directorate from overseeing Newplace.

The incident also catalyzes the creation of the "Hyperturing Ban Treaty", an interplanetary agreement aimed at curbing the development and proliferation of exponentially self-replicating self-optimizing AIs.