Is the Oracle in Shroud of The Avatar a Spy, or is Richard Garriott Having Us Face Our Personal Bia’s Against AI?
While Portlarium, Richard Garriott, and its developers have kept a policy of transparency in as many areas as they can, one thing that has been kept under deep wraps is aspects of the story.
One aspect we do not know a lot about is the Oracle. We may think we do that is, but do we? It is not uncommon for Lord British to have multiple layers to a story line. He is also known for wanting to explore not only the world but his personal conceptions and perceptions. This is something we have seen in his past games as he tries to pass that onto the player by putting them into situations to face their bias.
The most well-known examples of this may be the introduction of the race of Gargoyles in the Ultima series. The Gargoyles were often perceived by the player initially as being an evil race. Their wings and flaming horns a bias we face as a species from religion or in tales of evil. Another example of this being used before would be “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke.
As the game progressed a typical play through would have you realizing that this race was perhaps rightfully in its viewpoints, things are not black and white, and you may be the villain doing grave wrongs and injustices. Because of these biases, you held in real life.
Thus Richard began teaching us in some of his earliest video games that we must look upon ourselves before looking upon others, to ensure we are doing so fairly. We must also keep an open mind so as to continually watch ourselves for any hint that a decision may be made with bias and thus leaving the potential for wrong.
Shroud of the Avatar is undoubtedly, what I hope will be the greatest game Lord British has ever created, with his fantastic team and partners. He has indicated that this game will provide as many of these life lessons as we have seen in the past, and we have in fact already seen a lot of this.
When I contemplate the Oracle, though, I also consider some of the many passions Richard has regarding Science & Technology. It occurs to me the Oracle is very much an artificial intelligence, with its watchers out in the world, sticking its nose into everyone’s business and breaking the Prime Directive. I am ok with Kirk doing that on occasion, not sure about others!
If you peruse the internet, both rabid mumblings and official articles by reputable sources and scientific, there is, in my opinion, a lot of growing speculation that we are growing closer to at least some form of creating an artificial intelligence. Perhaps nothing like Hollywood portrays, maybe not self-aware, but something that is leaps and bounds beyond what we have done thus far. There is the controversy of how likely would such AI be to want to influence our race and culture without consent, and to what extent.
So knowing Richard Garriott’s history, I can’t but help wonder how deep the plots with the Oracle will run, in a way to make us face our bias against technology taking an active role in the caretaking or jobs in our daily lives, in a way we have not experienced before.
Disclaimer: I do not follow the story aspects of the game much at this time. I am waiting for the main story to be completed for the most part.
As such it is possible this has been discussed somewhere already, or revealed, etc.. and is a moot point. In short, forgive me if I’m out of the loop on something!