AI Interference: Space Social Sim Human Orbit

No, those are statues, you daft pattern recognition algorithm. The humans are the small ones.

If any AI researchers reading RPS need a human mind to digitise and put in control of a space station, I humbly volunteer. I would be a good caretaker AI. I’m responsible about turning lights off. Each day with me in charge brings a new fun holiday with its own mandatory customs. Yes, I would fake work orders to put plants and fountains everywhere, but people would like that. I label deadly laser grids clearly. And I’d only read your e-mail because I care.

Should our readers prove disappointments, I suppose I’ll make do with playing Human Orbit when it comes out, a “sci-fi social simulator” with the promise of “procedurally-generated storytelling.”

Human Orbit sets players up as the sentient AI running a research station above a distant planet. Being a station AI comes with perks, like reading everyone’s messages, roaming around as a little drone, and having a say in the running of things. Developers Autelia say an AI could, for example, expand labs to poke at alien artifacts brought up from the planet.

But the focus is on the social side. AIs can explore the lives, secrets, and relationships of the 100-strong crew, and interfere with good or bad intentions. My ears choose to hear “The Sims meets Space Station 13” and my heart hopes “but with fewer chemical fires and clowns.” Perhaps the planned mod tools will extend to allowing terrible creations like that.

No word yet on when it’ll blast off. Human Orbit sounds like the sort of idea that’s ambitious enough to come out a bit wonky, but I am okay with that. You see, I would be a very good caretaker AI.


  1. DompR says:

    I hope the opressed subject…. I mean happy citizens will be able to interact with the AI. Being a non-defined “hive mind” in management games (as in DF, etc.) has always felt like they missed a huge narrative opportunity (like uprisings, passive resistance, an so on).

  2. hotla says:


  3. altum videtur says:

    Really oughta change the title to Rock, Paper, Alice.
    Not that I mind, you.

    On the other hand, the game feels mind-bendingly voyeuristic, far more so than even the Sims because this one purports to attempt actual stories and characters.
    Some creeping increate hiding in John Doe II’s space-closet. Every space-closet. Eyes never shut. When does it sleep, noone knows. The steel heart buried a mile below hums a gentle tune and dreams of smiling forms. Hale and hurtless.
    For now.
    A solar year or a decade or more and there’s only hot ashes where once was a man. Woman. Child. Talos does her duty and commits those past to the flames. Death be not unkind. A dozen, a hundred. She stares long into the embers of the fire. So much has changed.

    I blame that on Pink Floyd.

    As for what I called “voyeurism”: I like sticking to the shadows as much as the next reject but I hate to see lives trickle. To look out over the night plain and see another’s fire. Pursuers all or exiles. Dark is safer. I think I actually hate reading the notes left by others or listening to their little exchanges in a game like Dishonored.
    Mark of the Ninja does it better. The marked one has supernatural perception and never bothers to just simply listen in on the guards, be they targets or something ignored altogether. He does not want to know. He just wants to do his duty and then die justified.

  4. Ross Angus says:

    I’m going to role-play this as Glados.

  5. Geedorah says:

    Hate. Let me tell you how much I’ve come to hate you since I began to live.

    • Harlander says:

      If I wrote the word ‘hate’ in 20-point font on an index card, that would overstate the matter a little

  6. Geebs says:

    Eddie. Hi there!

    Edit: crap, reply fail.

  7. daver4470 says:

    This game sounds like it should come with a complete set of Iain Banks Culture books.

  8. Darth Gangrel says:

    “If any AI researchers reading RPS need a human mind to digitise and put in control of a space station, I humbly volunteer. I would be a good caretaker AI” Oh sure and if you were presented with a task you didn’t like, you’d try to avoid it by saying “Alice doesn’t live here anymore”. And I didn’t write that just to make a reference to the movie Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974) . I swear!