The Atlas Project initially began as the result of a research agreement between Galen Antuma and the United Nations. In exchange for updating UN Corvettes' archaic auto-pilot systems, the UN would in turn provide Galen with enough funding for both the project and the woman’s own personal endeavors afterwards. Just how she went about it, however, was a decision left entirely to her. She soon began implementing the basic foundation of cognitive ‘life’ to the machine in an attempt to theoretically match advanced Human intuition and reasoning: all while keeping the thought processing capabilities of a machine.
With the deal set, the woman soon shipped out to Hox for the duration of the project. There, the woman quickly became well-acquainted with her future colleagues and settled into a comfortable role just below Mike Trainer.
However, the Atlas Project quickly proved to be much larger in scope than the woman had expected. Months turned to years in no time at all, making painfully slow progress for the bulk of that time.
The Ubiar Invasion shifted the base's focus quite draatically, leaving many of the on-going projects in the dust in favor of focusing on the much grander goal now in front of them: constructing the Horizons Initiative’s Andromeda Havens. Many of the scientists working on the project were soon inducted into senior positions within the Initiative.
Galen, however, was still quite resolute in her refusal to see her work thrown away. That very same outrage encouraged her to retrofit her previous work for the Horizons Initiative instead. Leaving the Havens in the hands of a prototype AI did not sit well with the UN Council, yet the woman’s persistence finally came through for her. After enough heated discussion, the proposal was accepted.
Though there would be many changes made to Atlas’s programming and capabilities, the majority of them would only be small tweaks or adjustments. Thankfully, Atlas only had to learn a few new tricks to lead the Havens, leaving the team with enough time to get the AI prepared.
The first change made to Atlas was the introduction of a physical platform to care for the Havens when a remote touch would not suffice. Rather than focus on combat or defensive capabilities, their focus was to simply make it capable of performing maintenance with haste and efficiency: all while remaining durable for a host of hazardous environments.
Next, the AI’s processing capabilities would have to be dramatically increased. The jump from managing a single fighter to three Havens was a staggering one: demanding nearly twelve times its initially projected power requirements. As a result, an incredibly powerful and equally as large central AI core was built deep inside the HCS Gaia (to prevent any unwanted tinkering, of course).
Finally, the AI’s cognitive learning programs would have to be expanded even further. Atlas would have to remain responsible for determining the best course of action at any given time in the absence of a living being. However, even Galen came to agree that solely relying on a machine’s programming could prove dangerous in the face of unpredictable adversity. Atlas would finally begin to learn more about the thinking methods and behaviors of the galaxy’s races.
Abstract ideas like humanity and emotion was simply impossible to understand from a book or study, meaning that Atlas would instead have to observe and learn through experience. Though tests only involved observing and participating in simple conversations, Atlas proved to be capable of picking up on linguistic patterns quite well.
While simple conversations proved successful, discussing theoretical scenarios with Atlas proved to be far superior and efficient learning methods. Within no time, the AI was taking previous solutions into account when presented with new ones, and even integrating other opinions into his experiences. Though some odd quirks sometimes arose in later conversations with the AI, the majority of the testing ultimately seemed to prove that Atlas was functioning as intended; it was starting to think on its own.
Voyage to Andromeda
With Atlas now fully operational and their launch date rapidly encroaching, the team believed it was time to begin personally acquainting Atlas with the Havens and its inhabitants outside of a testing environment. Its hands-on experience with the colonists proved to be another invaluable learning experience for Atlas. It slowly took to adopting and reflecting their concerns and emotions on a superficial level: all the while attempting to fully map out and develop the concepts of things like anger or fear, reluctance and excitement, curiosity and loneliness.
With the last of the preparations complete and the colonists secure in their pods, the Second Wave finally departed for the Andromeda Galaxy with only Atlas left to manage the ships, the only company he had on the long voyage, in all of their melancholy silence.