Human Orbit Brings the Idea of a Probing AI to Life

In space, no one can hear space station AI read your emails

Human Orbit Screen (7)

It may happen already with Google poking around your Gmail account to ensure things arrive in the correct sections of your inbox, but at least its algorithms can’t manipulate your relationships with others. However, in the scary world that Autelia created in Human Orbit, artificial intelligence enjoys toying with human emotions.

Placing you in the role of an AI responsible for running a human colony’s support and security structure, you can dabble into the lives of the inhabitants and sour relationships or form new ones in one huge social experiment.

The demo we got to see of Human Orbit saw us meddling directly with the messages between two inhabitants. You can edit what messages are said and ruin plans for others. You can skew the emotional tone you’ll have for each message and see how others react.

While both instances we saw resulted in a rather sour ending – particularly stinging seeing as it was the crumbling of a somewhat secretive love affair between two people – there are hundreds of outcomes possible and they all shift depending on other actions within your time in charge of the space station.

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It’s not just the messages you can meddle with either. You can turn off life-support systems, target specific individuals with a desire to ruin their lives, and generally just toy with the population. You may not get away with it all so easily though. Do something out of the ordinary too often and space station security might get suspicious and try to fix the problem – which essentially results in you being shut down.

Of course, you can get out of these situations by essentially getting said employee fired, or acting ‘normal’ until the suspicion passes. “Say you keep sucking crew out of the airlock, the crew will decide the doors are maulfunctioning and lock them out of the system,” explains Autelia in an interview with us. “They would be operated manually until they decided they were fixed, which makes things more difficult for you.

“Say you keep spraying hot coffee into people’s faces from the coffee machine, it would end up with similar results – but they may scrap the coffee machine due to its low importance.”

So, it’s clear that Autelia is creating something incredibly ambitious with Human Orbit, and that’s something the team there realises, but they aren’t perturbed. While it won’t be gameplay like The Sims, it’s clear that the aim is to have people become invested in certain individuals; watching them from afar and shaping points in their lives to help them achieve goals they want to make – or ensuring they don’t ever come true.

It’s a complex web of goals and achievements, and something that can’t really be shown off all too well in a short space of time. But regardless of that, Human Orbit looks like it could be a new chapter in the god game genre – a game that deals with the scariest god of all, a god that humans created themselves.

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