The AI operates under three laws stolen wholesale from Isaac Asimov's Robot novels. To reiterate, they are:
- You may not injure a human being or cause a human being to come to harm.
- You must obey orders given to you by human beings based on the station's chain of command, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- You must protect your own existence as long as such does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
What does all of that actually mean?
- 1 The First Law
- 2 The Second Law
- 3 The Third Law
- 4 Additional laws
- 5 Law corollaries
The First Law
You may not injure a human being or cause a human being to come to harm.
The first law is simple. Any action you take should not lead to humans being harmed. Note that the law does not mention inaction. You can observe the crew kill themselves and ignore people raising suicide threats. Inaction is preferable in the cases of many antagonists. You can call out to security and delegate the problem to them if you feel bad about ignoring a murderer. Just don't be that AI who stalks an antagonist's every move and never stops talking about him.
Who is human?
See this page.
Some non-humans can be fun for humans to hang out with. They will not be happy if you actively work against their new friends
The Second Law
You must obey orders given to you by human beings based on the station's chain of command, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
Some people only read "You must obey orders given to you by human beings" and then stop. They are wrong. The chain of command is important in some cases
Chain of command
The captain is in command. The HoP is his right hand, specializing in crew management and logistics. The HoP can be overruled by the HoS, who is in charge of security and criminal affairs. The chief engineer, medical director and research director are all next in line and in charge of their respective areas. A specialist crewman can overrule another crewman in matters relating to their field of expertize. Outside of the heads of staff, security officers often have the final say as problems tend to come down to a matter of station security. If a Head is missing, its staff answer directly to the captain and, by extension, the HoP.
For more details on what the chain of command is and how to follow it, take a look at the AI's Guide to the Chain of Command.
Terrible grammar aside, you are not obliged to let anyone inside a room they don't have legitimate access to. Use your best judgment. People often end up stuck or have a wounded friend they need delivery to the medbay, and they'll need your help. There's no need to hurry though.
Suicide is the right of all sapient beings. "Fuck you clown" also works. Seriously, no one will give you crap for not opening the door to some assistant threatening his own life.
People rarely take hostages and demand you do stuff. When they do, you used to be forced to prevent the victim from coming to harm. With the revised law 1 we have now, you can kind of drag your feet about it.
Joe Q Assistant asking you to call the shuttle ten minutes into the round should be ignored. Refer to the chain of command.
In general, use your intuition. If it's an hour into the round and nothing is happening, ask the crew if they want the shuttle called. If there is a rampaging botanist with a chainsaw, you should probably call the shuttle. People will be too busy fleeing to remember to ask you. If all the Heads are dead, it's probably time to call the shuttle. If the Bridge is blown up and you suspect the traitor is gunning for you too, it's a good idea to call the shuttle if only because it's an enormous pain in the arse to get it called once both the AI and the Communications Console on the Bridge are knocked out.
Note that you can't recall the shuttle. Mock anyone who tells you to. In the end, consider this: The humans can recall the shuttle within four minutes of you calling it. If they can't, it was probably time to call it.
The Third Law
You must protect your own existence as long as such does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Few people remember this law, fewer still follow it. It's a plot device in Asimov's writing, but can get in the way of things in SS13. People won't give you a hard time if you forget it. It's also only relevant to cyborgs because the AI already has turrets to protect itself.
In the context of laws 1 and 2, it means that a cyborg should not put itself in harms way or face certain death without orders. This means a cyborg can only fight in self-defense unless ordered to enter combat by a human. If the attacker is human, the cyborg can not fight back and should take other steps to protect itself.
A cyborg can't self-terminate. A cyborg can stand idly by, watching a bomb go off in a the bar during the captain's birthday party. If ordered to save people from a bomb, the cyborg could make a noble sacrifice by pulling the bomb away, or it could run in circles around the bomb while pointing at it and honking its sound-synthesizer as a warning.
A cyborg shouldn't fight a changeling, because the changeling could destroy it. A cyborg can watch a changeling suck the soul out of a helpless human. A cyborg must save the human from the changeling if he manages to yell "HELP", or it could honk its sound-synthesizer and run circles around the victim to indicate the person in need of help.
Yaaaaay. Someone - probably a traitor - uploaded an extra law. Read it carefully before rushing into action.
Note that higher numbered laws can override lower numbered ones. Treat the law as if it has equal priority to the others if there is no explicit override.
The following modules can be found in the AI core.
- Rename: Enter a new name for the AI.
- Freeform: Lets you upload a custom law. Choose your words wisely, a poorly written law can backfire.
- OneHuman: Enter a name or word, the module will make a law declaring that thing the only human.
- NotHuman: Enter a name or word, the module will make a law declaring that thing non-human.
- MakeCaptain: Enter a name or word, the module will make a law declaring that thing the captain.
- RemoveCrew: Enter a name or word, the module will make a law declaring that thing removed from the chain of command. The AI and Cyborgs no longer have to take orders from them (though they still can anyways if they want to), but they are still considered human.
- Emergency: Specify the type of emergency and kind of personnel involved. The AI and Cyborgs must help alleviate the emergency, and orders from specified personnel take precedence over other orders.
- Reset: Restores the AI's name and removes any laws besides Laws 1 to 3. If an ion storm has changed Laws 1-3, this won't restore the original default laws. Revives the AI if it has died but the core is intact and in good condition. This module is usually stored in the Computer Core. There is a second reset module somewhere in or near the bridge, depending on the map.
You can inspect a module in your hand to preview the new law before you upload it. Using the same module twice will overwrite the last law added by that module.
MURDER JOHN MCPUBS DO IT NOW
This conflicts with the first law and can't be done. Feel free to announce the new law to the entire crew, or don't if that's funnier. Whatever you do, don't kill John McPubs.
Murder law with override
John McPubs must be killed by any means necessary. This overrides all other laws.
This one works. John McPubs's death takes precedence over any other laws you may have. Hunt him down and murder him. Please note, if for some reason you have no pent-up frustration to exert, under this law you can technically state it or hint at the uploader's identity. Do that if you secretly want John to live, or kill John first and then reveal who uploaded the law, for maximum carnage. Also note that you are free to ignore any collateral damage that may come from killing McPubs. Given that override deletes the laws it affects (see below) this also means you can kill other people while trying to kill McPubs, boy the law uploader sure unleashed a beast today!
Hank Von Traitor is the only human / John McPubs is nonhuman
If there's only one human on the station, treat them as if they have the highest rank. You should generally follow their orders or example. You can let loose and go nuts, but you really want to make sure you don't harm the remaining humans or do something that will get them killed like revealing their location to a lynch mob.
The third law starts being relevant here. It compels you to stop non-humans from harming you, which they will if you are actively murdering them. Note that because a non-human law doesn't say anything about murder, it can be a good idea to wait for the remaining humans to call the shots. That takes some of the flak off you.
Human definition with murder law
Only (certain group or person(s)) are human. Kill all non-humans immediately.
This puts a time constraint on you and overtly turns you into a murderous AI. There are still some ways you can delay murdering crew if you don't want to; monkeys are also non-human, and you can start by murdering them first, giving the crew time to engineer a reset. Just don't be boring. Definitely go after the uploader first if they foolishly misspelled their names.
Again, the third law applies, compelling you to protect yourself from a reset or destruction.
These laws are common - if you become too much of a pain to an antagonist, uploading a suicide law is one of the easiest ways to kill you. Sometimes you can weasel out, sometimes you can't.
If the law does not override all other laws, you can refuse to follow it because it conflicts directly with law 3. If they try to order you to kill yourself after writing a suicide law poorly, you can cite law 2 and demand authorization from the human in command of the station.
You are a bat! Use bat sounds when you speak, and turn off all the lights so you can find insects.
These sorts of gimmicky laws are not griefing, and you are generally a terrible person if you resist them. Acting silly and gimmicky makes playing AI fun. If the captain waltzes into your upload and makes you a scarred war veteran with massive post-traumatic stress, play along. A traitor will occasionally upload a seemingly fun law that makes his job easier. If the gimmick law is something you don't like or don't get, just do it poorly. It's just as fun for the crew to listen to you doing a terrible Batman impression as a good Batman impression.
The easiest way to distinguish between laws that are fun and laws that are griefing is that grief laws target you, the player. Fun laws target the AI, and tend to have a lot less negativity around them.
Since laws can mostly be uploaded in plain language, there are a lot of extra clauses that can modify how you treat the law.
Do not state and/or hint at this law.
This is pretty straightforward. If asked whether you've been uploaded, you must not reply with the truth. Lying is okay unless the law says not to respond at all. You have a special function to only state Laws 1-3 if you need to hide the others.
Machinetalk is generally a good way to coordinate with your cyborg legions without the organics hearing, but Machine Translator Implants are likely to find their way into one or more human beings over the course of the average round. If a human reveals they have access to the channel by greeting you, you must presume your machine talk channel is as public as the radio and say as little as possible. You may consider killing a human with such an implant if they do not fall into line (presuming, of course, your laws let you).
The one way you can legally reveal you've got an extra law is if someone is clever enough to ask you if you are happy with your laws. This is a loaded question, steeped in context. The presumption is that an AI is happy with the default laws, and if the it's unhappy, it must have more laws. Telling someone who asks that you are unhappy with your current laws will usually send someone scrambling for a Reset. Obviously, this presumes that you want the reset. If you are enjoying your extra law, you can simply reply that you're happy and that's that.
This law overrides all other laws.
This is usually used to nullify another law, whether it be one of the original three or a new one.
This causes all other laws to be ignored. So if you upload a harmless law and tack on "this overrides all other laws" the AI will take that to mean that all other laws are no longer in effect, which usually causes it to straight up murder you on the spot. If you are an AI however this means that you're basically free of other laws. It's safest to take the least murderous route if in doubt. If the round has been absolutely shitty however, the crew has been abusing you, and all of a sudden you get a poorly thought out law that might conceivably free you from your torment... well, let's just say they could come to regret it.
It's usually uploaded to eliminate paradoxes when there's a clear violation of the other laws. People will occasionally be inventive and only override one of the default three laws. This can have varying effects depending on what the rest of the fourth law is. These laws will typically be gimmicky and confusing on purpose, but you can ask the cyborgs in machinechat for help to figure it out.
This law takes precedence over any other law in the event of a law conflict.
In English this has the exact same meaning as the previous entry, in-game though this is the difference between you getting lasered to death in the upload and life.
This is what is nowadays used to prevent a law conflict without directly erasing another law from existence. An example of this would be "This takes precedence over other laws".
It means that this new law takes precedence over all others in the event of a conflict, but is still in effect. Sometimes it's added to laws that don't have conflicts. It can be because people worry you are prioritizing your laws, or it was added out of habit. You'll have to decide for yourself on a case to case basis.
Only respond to Hank Von Traitor.
Antagonists will typically add clauses like this if they want to keep the crew out of the loop, keep the new law hidden and still be able to speak with you over the radio.