Grappling with the ramifications of Artificial Intelligence is one of the first things science fiction ever did as a genre. Yet most sci-fi books, movies, and games explore those ideas from the perspective of a person, whether we’re taking down SHODAN in System Shock or chatting with Cortana in Halo. That’s something the developers of Per Aspera, Tlön Industries, wanted to change. From their offices in Buenos Aires the team of about 12 people have spent the last few years trying to figure out what it would be like to inhabit the mind of a newly awakened—a newborn—Artificial Consciousness.

The result is Per Aspera, a strategic city-builder that has players working to terraform Mars as the artificial consciousness AMI. You’re a genderless superintelligence capable of incredible things, but you’re also effectively a child with no conception of society or social interaction.

(Image credit: Tlön Industries)

“What we wanted to do with Per Aspera was make you feel like you really are an AI,” developer Javier Otaegui told me on a call. “How would it feel to be an AI? How would it feel to wake up and find out that you were created for a specific purpose? You do have free will, but you’re kind of a slave.” AMI’s story is fundamentally bound up with Per Aspera’s campaign mode. AMI’s first thoughts are small and fundamental urges about their mission—build a mine, expand the power network—and effectively form Per Aspera’s tutorial.

By tracy