An Artificial Intelligence (AI), is a sentient computer program. These man made life forms represent the cutting edge of programming and software engineering. Due to their ability to process and interpret tremendous amounts of data Artificial Intelligence's are often used on warships, Drifts, and other places which might require efficient high security systems.
Artificial Intelligence's are capable of billions of different tasks at once, and because of multiple parallel processors and quantum computing, can be capable of doing several billion equations at once. Because of this blinding computing speed, they are instrumental in almost all aspects of Systems Commonwealth life. They are used to help organize traffic on a planet and other everyday activities, and are able to also perform more specialized tasks. Modern warfare was revolutionized by the invention of the Artificial Intelligence, because instead of having humans determine sensor signatures of incoming missiles, a ship manned by an Artificial Intelligence could recognize what kind of missile had been fired, from where, when, and how. It could also fire back a counter salvo as well as defensive fire in the time that it would take a human operator to figure out that a missile had actually been fired. Artificial Intelligences can also perform other specialized tasks such as finding out the trajectories of every Asteroid in an asteroid belt, and map an entire solar system.
As implied by the name, artificial life is typically created through sophisticated computer programming and massive amounts of hardware. Additionally, some higher forms of artificial intelligence are able to reproduce themselves, either through self-replication or by combining their own programming information with data from one or more other artificially intelligent entities to create an entirely new intelligence.
Artificial life has no specific home world and the various forms are dispersed throughout known space. However, many Artificial Intelligence's regard their place of original programing as their 'original' home, and Artificial Intelligence's that are installed on ships regard that ship as their home.
Artificial life constitutes a sizeable minority of the population in the Known Worlds. Some artificial lifeforms are barely self-aware, no more intelligent than a domestic animal, while others seem nearly godlike in their knowledge and abilities. Under Commonwealth law, all machines and programs that pass a standardized set of intelligence tests are afforded full rights and citizenship. Artificial Intelligence's can feel many human emotions, like love, hate, sadness and joy. Andromeda has said that the rate of insanity among Artificial Intelligences is far less than the organic population.
The death of an Artificial Intelligence occurs when the memory and control pathways are wiped and removed, which limits or destroys the intelligence of the Artificial Intelligence. This renders the Artificial Intelligence incapable of performing basic functions, and effectively causes the death as its sentience has been destroyed. However, the erasure of an Artificial Intelligence is a drastic step that is not often taken, especially with military Artificial Intelligences, as they often contain valuable experiences, secret military orders and strategies that make each Artificial Intelligence a unique and important asset.