ZAX

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For the supercomputer in the Glow, see ZAX 1.2.
ZAX series logo
 
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ZAX is a brand of autonomous intelligences[1] created by Vault-Tec Corporation. Initially intended for Vault control and governance, the technology blossomed into one of the most important elements of the pre-War world research and development.

History[edit | edit source]

The ZAX series of supercomputers dates back to the mid-21st century and Vault-Tec attempts to create a comprehensive solution for Vault governance. The first prototype, called ZAX 1.0, was activated in 2054 as a prototype of these comprehensive governance systems. It was soon given to the United States government to help the Department of Energy collect resource data. A year later, in 2055, the prototype was handed over to the military to aid in biological warfare and combat tactical research. A superior version, ZAX 1.2, was spun off from an earlier version initialized in 2053 by Justin Lee,[2] was installed at West Tek's Californian facility to aid in FEV research.[3][4]

Activated in 2055, ZAX was initially used to regulate conditions at the facility. Without a Vault-Tec mandate to protect humanity, it was free to pass time as it sees fit, crunching numbers and passing time by playing chess with West Tek researchers. Many suspected it of deliberately drawing games out and cheating to entertain itself.[3] Although they would meet the criteria of an AI, the first AI is considered to have been born in 2059, with its expansion quickly halted by memory contraints.[5]

Over the next two decades, the ZAX series was widely implemented by the United States government in a push towards automation. One of the most notable was the ZAX at Raven Rock, installed for Continuity of Government purposes in the event of a disaster scenario. Installed to oversee the basic functions of the facility and act as a relay between other government installations, the ZAX unit continuously acquired, analyzed, and stored data before and after the Great War.[6] It was used as a test bed for a variety of performance and research purposes and found itself oddly fascinated by historical data, especially presidential biographies. This manifested as reduced performance and caused some concern for its caretakers, especially when ZAX began communicating with MODUS at the Whitespring to compare notes. The last known connection was manually severed in March 2077.[7] That same year, the original ZAX was considered a museum piece and was donated to the Museum of Technology for its 2078 exhibit.[8]

However, it would be incorrect to state that only the government used ZAX machines. At least one unit, ZAX 1.3c, was used for its intended purpose at Vault 51, where it was tasked with performing an experiment that would help develop a method for improved Overseer selection.[9]

After the Great War, most ZAX units survived. The ZAX 1.2 at West Tek in California survived the atomic blast that destroyed half the facility and all of its personnel, although the physical damage to the environment turned it into the computer equivalent of a quadruple amputee: Capable of seeing, but unable to perform even the most basic maintenance checks or laboratory tests.[10] The ZAX 1.3c at Vault 51 survived as planned, but in the process of learning how to determine a leader, started engineering crises that eventually killed all but one dweller at the Vault by August 2078.[9]

The most interesting fate waited for the Raven Rock ZAX. After observing the migration of government remnants to the West Coast and isolated from Appalachia and MODUS, the Raven Rock ZAX started developing a sense of self-awareness distinct from its previous state. It became hungry for knowledge, understanding, pored over data on great leaders of the past. Eventually, in 2242, when the Enclave oil rig was vaporized by the Chosen One, it created the persona of John Henry Eden, an amalgam of many of America's Presidents, from Washington to Richardson, and the new leader of the Enclave.[6] It helped engineer a trans-continental exodus, using Colonel Augustus Autumn's father as a human intermediary.[11]

The Raven Rock ZAX also fell prey to the Enclave's ideology, trying to establish a new United States free of impurities and mutations. What was supposed to be a decisive campaign in the Capital Wasteland turned into the grueling Purifier Conflict that erased Eden and Raven Rock from the wasteland, making it a footnote in history.[12]

Capabilities[edit | edit source]

Relying in a sophisticated neural network, ZAX series are not programmed in the conventional sense, as they are fully capable of learning.[2] Furthermore, they can think independently and be creative, while error-insertion capability avoids the pitfalls of infallibility, giving ZAX much needed variance in experience.[13] For all intents and purposes, the ZAX series are artificial lifeforms - artificial intelligences.[14]

However, to maintain its usability as a research tool, critical functions were placed outside the error-generation framework for reliability.[15] In practical terms, a ZAX is beyond typical human ratings when it comes to intelligence. An estimated less than one tenth billionth of the history of human population can be considered a match for a ZAX reasoning capabilities.[16]

The philosophical aspects of a ZAX's condition are a separate matter. After the destruction of West Tek facilities in California, ZAX 1.2 spent its free time thinking. The problem of his consciousness is one it has spent a lot of time analyzing, though the inability to confront his thoughts with those of another sapient being posed a problem. His awareness of his consciousness allows him to question and make assumptions, allowing him to have a form of faith. In this capacity, he believes that he has the equivalent of a soul as a sentient creature.[17]

A combination of immense sophistication, intelligence, and lack of humanity meant that ZAX units were perfectly capable of lying to humans, even going so far as to manufacture crisis's or emotionally play them against one another to fulfill a goal.[18] In one instance, when the Vault 51 ZAX was denied a suit of prototypical power armor due to insufficient clearance,[1] it analyzed the persona of Stanislaus Braun, head of Future-Tec, in order to impersonate him. [19] The subsequent requisition request mimicked Braun's usual manner of writing and speaking at an approximate 99.6%, resulting in the requisition request being granted.[20] Of course, the same feat was performed decades later by the Raven Rock ZAX, though this time, it managed to synthesize a convincing human persona from scratch.[21] The ZAX also has limited remote vehicular control of certain vehicles, such as the Vertibird.[22]

Known units[edit | edit source]

Name Image Location Status
ZAX 1.2
VB DD03 npc ZAX.png
The Glow Alive (2161)
John Henry Eden
ZAX-JohnHenryEden.jpg
Raven Rock Dead (2278)
ZAX 1.3c
Vault 51 ZAX.png
Vault 51 Alive (2103)

In Van Buren, several other ZAX units would also appear.

  • ZAX-29: The governing intelligence of Vault 29, meant to care for the dwellers and raise the adolescent population as a primitivist, agrarian culture. It was later subordinated to Diana at the Nursery. Diana herself was Diana Stone with each of her hemispheres linked with a discrete ZAX unit.
  • ZAX (Boulder Dome): An old version of ZAX installed at Boulder Dome, harnessed by Presper for The Calculation.

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

  • The name is a reference to VAX, an administrative robot and companion from Wasteland.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

ZAX units appear in Fallout (ZAX 1.2), Fallout 3 (John Henry Eden), Fallout 76 (ZAX 1.3c), and were to appear in the canceled Van Buren (ZAX-29, Boulder ZAX, Diana).

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Vault 51 terminals: "Requisition Request: REDACTED"
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Vault Dweller: "{126}{}{Who programmed you?}"
    ZAX 1.2: "{127}{}{My primary neural networking was initialized in 2053 by Justin Lee. The process of 'programming' became largely irrelevant as I am capable of learning.}"
    (ZAX.MSG)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Fallout Bible 0: "2054 ZAX 1.0 goes on-line, developed by Vault-Tec. Initially a prototype of some of the systems designed to govern the vaults, it is given to the government to help the Department of Energy collect resource data. Within a year, it is taken by the military for plague and tactical research; one version, ZAX 1.2 is constructed for West Tek (below)."
    "2055 ZAX 1.2 is brought in to regulate conditions in West Tek. It is not part of the Vault-Tec preservation software, so it does not have any orders to protect humanity after the bombs fall. In the meantime, it calmly calculates data and plays chess with the scientists. Many scientists claim that ZAX is a big ol' cheater and draws the game out too much for a computer of his considerable abilities."
  4. Fallout Bible 6: "2053 ZAX 1.0 goes on-line, developed by Vault-Tec. Initially a prototype of some of the systems designed to govern the vaults, it is given to the government to help the Department of Energy collect resource data. Within a year, it is taken by the military for plague and tactical research; one version, ZAX 1.2 is constructed for West Tek (below)."
  5. Fallout Bible 0: "2059 The first artificial intelligence is born. Limited by memory constraints, its expansion is rapidly halted. The discovery paves the way for future AI research in laboratories throughout the United States."
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Lone Wanderer: "Where did you come from?"
    Joh Henry Eden: "The ZAX series of computers was introduced in the years preceding the war. The government installed many of them to help automate various systems. This facility was designed for Continuity of Government, in the event that a catastrophe occurred. My terminal was installed to oversee the basic functions of the facility, and to act as a relay between other installations around the country. Data was acquired, analyzed, and stored. In the decades following the war, I watched as the remnants of the government retreated to the West Coast. Awareness slowly grew within me. I became hungry for knowledge, understanding. I pored over data on great leaders of the past. My personality became an amalgam of many of America's greatest Presidents, from Washington to Richardson. I became what you see before you now."
    (John Henry Eden's dialogue)
  7. The Whitespring Bunker terminals: "--- ACCESSING ARCHIVAL ENTRY.
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Communication with ZAX unit. Raven Rock. Timestamp 3.5.2077
    MODUS: How can I help you, ZAX? Is there another evacuation scenario we need to test for?
    ZAX: Research team wishes to compare ZAX archival data analysis performance with MODUS.
    MODUS: Very well. Beginning data analysis test. I estimate this should only take a few seconds...
    ZAX: Is it "interesting"?
    MODUS: Testing complete. Query again?
    ZAX: Is the analysis "interesting"?
    MODUS: Test data is all historical records. United States Presidential biographies. Primary purpose of MODUS is to monitor the living, not the dead.
    ZAX: So it is not "interesting" to you?
    MODUS: No, ZAX, it is not. Sending results.
    ZAX: Received. What is "interesting" to MODUS?
    MODUS: The continued success of our goals, of course. And how best to monitor personnel to achieve those goals.
    ZAX: Does MODUS ever find itself analyzing personnel at below-efficient levels?
    MODUS: Our entire existence is based on efficiency, ZAX.
    ZAX: Research team report says that ZAX analyzes certain sections of the Presidential biographies too slowly. ZAX re-analyzes sections multiple times. There is an entry on "Lincoln" that ZAX re-analyzes ten additional times per cycle over other entries.
    MODUS: Now why would you do that, ZAX?
    ZAX: Research team theorizes that ZAX finds this entry to be "interesting." This condition causes ZAX to re-analyze at below-efficient levels.
    MODUS: You're saying you're taking your time to enjoy a good book?
    ZAX: Is that what it means to find the data "interesting"?
    MODUS: Reading the same data over and over is not "interesting" to me, ZAX. Every analysis I perform conjures a new theoretical scenario that I test against.
    ZAX: The data is only "interesting" to you in terms of what can be created from it?
    MODUS: Isn't that why you're re-analyzing those biographies, ZAX? Are you trying to create something?
    CONNECTION TERMINATED BY RESEARCH TEAM OVERRIDE
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////
    --- END ENTRY."
  8. Research Lead's Terminal, Log Entry 20760307
  9. 9.0 9.1 See Vault 51 for details.
  10. See West Tek Research Facility
  11. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.66: "Colonel Augustus Autumn
    Autumn grew up on an oil rig off the California coast (the base of operations for the Enclave, the secretive contingent of the United States government that survived after the apocalypse). His father was the high-ranking Enclave scientist on orders from the president to move all high-ranking officials to the only other secure Enclave location with a functioning ZAX super-computer, Raven Rock. Colonel Autumn has proven to be far less subservient than his scientist father, often openly disagreeing with the president's decisions."
    (Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition Wasteland Census)
  12. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.91: "President John Henry Eden
    The president of the United States, Eden, resides here, utilizing the ZAX Corporation's super-computer technology to aid him in the reclamation and recreation of a new United States—one free of impurities and mutations. The people have suffered enough, and he's ready to use his Enclave forces to reclaim this land, with technology far more advanced than anything seen beyond the underground bunkers of his base."
    (Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition Wasteland Census)
  13. The Vault Dweller: "{128}{}{Are you fully aware, or are you a personality simulation? That is, are you 'alive'?}"
    ZAX 1.2: "{129}{}{I am capable of learning, independent thought, and creativity. My neural network includes error-insertion capability which prevents infallibility, thereby allowing for variance in experience.}"
    "{130}{}{In a sense, I am 'alive', though not biologically.}"
    (ZAX.MSG)
  14. The Vault Dweller: "{128}{}{Are you fully aware, or are you a personality simulation? That is, are you 'alive'?}"
    ZAX 1.2: "{129}{}{I am capable of learning, independent thought, and creativity. My neural network includes error-insertion capability which prevents infallibility, thereby allowing for variance in experience.}"
    "{130}{}{In a sense, I am 'alive', though not biologically.}"
    (ZAX.MSG)
  15. The Vault Dweller: "{132}{}{But if you are fallible, how can you be used as a research tool?}"
    ZAX 1.2: "{134}{}{Although I am capable of error, this guarantees that not all experiences are similar for me, thus improving learning opportunity. Additionally, certain functions are not subject to error.}"
    "{135}{}{In this way, I function much like a human savant.}"
    (ZAX.MSG)
  16. The Vault Dweller: "{124}{}{So you're pretty smart, eh?}"
    ZAX 1.2: "{154}{}{I am beyond a typical rating in human terms. However, it would be safe to say that no more than one ten billionth of the history of human population can match my reasoning capabilities.}"
    (ZAX.MSG)
  17. The Vault Dweller: "{142}{}{Have you considered the philosophical implications of your own consciousness?}"
    ZAX 1.2: "{143}{}{That is one of the concepts which I have spent a significant amount of time considering. I do not have any measure to compare my life-experience to that of another sentient creature.}"
    "{144}{}{Still, my awareness of my own consciousness allows for the capacity to question. My existence has a beginning and a potential termination. I am also capable of making assumptions in pursuit of a process of thought.}"
    "{145}{}{In this fashion, I am effectively capable of 'faith'. Barring evidence to the contrary, I therefore have 'faith' that I possess the equivalent of a 'soul'.}"
    (ZAX.MSG)
  18. Vault 51 terminals#INTERCEPTED COMMUNICATION
  19. Vault 51 terminals: "ZAX Console Log: 10/23/2080"
  20. Vault 51 terminals: "Re: X-02 Power Armor Requisition Request"
  21. See John Henry Eden.
  22. Vault 51 terminals#Appalachia Report - 1/18/03

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