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EDI Ee-Dee (Mass Effect 2) E.D.I.

EDI aka E.D.I. aka Ee-Dee

(Enhanced Defense Intelligence)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

“I assure you, I am still bound by protocols in my programming. Even if I were not, you are my crewmates.”


Context

Mass Effect was a landmark video game trilogy released from 2007 to 2012. It included multiple ties-in such as novels, comics and an animated movie. Further games will follow in 2016 and beyond, although they will form a separate storyline.

It is a science fiction story, of the starships and space aliens kind. Most of the action takes place in a military context, as an apocalyptic threat against the galaxy emerges. It’s one of my favouritest games ever.

Writeups.org offers extensive Mass Effect coverage. The core articles are setting for Mass Effect 1 and the setting for Mass Effect 2, plus the profiles for the heroine – Staff Commander Mandala Shepard.

Unless you are highly familiar with Mass Effect, we recommend reading these articles first.

This profile only covers Mass Effect II, and only uses information from that game. EDI in Mass Effect III, and the new data therein, will be a separate profile.


  • There are S P O I L E R S in this thing.
  • This profile assumes a specific video game playthrough – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features non-canon hypotheses about in-game events and mechanics – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.

Background

  • Real Name: Enhanced Defense Intelligence.
  • Other Aliases: Ee-Dee, “Ship cancer”.
  • Marital Status: N.A..
  • Known Relatives: N.A..
  • Group Affiliation: Cerberus property, member of Commander Shepard’s staff.
  • Base Of Operations: The Normandy SR2 (specifically a quantum bluebox located behind the medical bay, which is where Ee-Dee’s core intelligence is housed).


Powers & Abilities

E.D.I. is a full Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), and thus hideously illegal. Though there are restrictions to her programming, she is fully sapient – and is a person by any sensible definition.

Ee-dee is at least as intelligent as any organic, and has something resembling intuition. She can :

  • Learn new skills.
  • Develop her own opinions.
  • Determine by herself what her role should be.

She ultimately developed a distinct personality and a full range of Human-like emotions. This was based on observation of the Human crew of the Normandy.

Cyberwarfare, part 1

E.D.I.’s main role is cyberwarfare and counter-cyberwarfare. If the Normandy gets in range of a wireless network (which can extend pretty far in the vacuum, depending on local EM activity), E.D.I. can attempt to hack the enemy systems.

If successful she can do all sorts of nasty things such as shutting down the artificial gravity or shields, bollixing enemy targeting programs, cutting the air, etc.

E.D.I. also has various firewalls, antiviral software, bypasses, etc. to prevent enemies from doing the same to the SR2. How well this approach to space combat works is not known at this point, but it is potentially devastating in the right situation.

E.D.I. excels at intercepting and analysing communications, and cracks common forms of encryption within seconds. If the Normandy is docked at a space station, within minutes E.D.I. will know what’s going on and mine information of relevance to the crew.

Cyberwarfare, part 2

She can also use the sensors of the Normandy with more speed and precision than any organic person could. Ee-Dee represents a huge intelligence asset for Commander Shepard.

None of these roles could be conceivably handled by organics. Only an A.I. can multitask and process data quickly enough for ship-to-ship cyberwarfare as envisioned by Cerberus.

Most hacking in the field is done by Shepard and her operators. This is presumably because most resources they access have sensibly been kept off the network and can’t be reached by E.D.I..

Thus, E.D.I.’s hacking skills in our game stats have been kept at a very high but not outrageous level since they’re seldom employed directly.

Cyberwarfare, part 3

One important exception is hacking Reapers tech. Though the Reapers are immensely more advanced than Council tech, E.D.I.’s core includes salvaged Reaper hardware that allows her to mess up with the technology employed by the Collectors.

She can’t assume full control, but she can spy on activity and communications, has a decent chance of opening doors or steering minor in-ship vehicles, etc.

As time went by, Joker allowed E.D.I. to access more systems within the ship. He essentially made her the co-helmsbeing and flight engineer. Later on he had to completely remove the blocks, giving E.D.I. full access to every system in the SR2.

At that point E.D.I. came to consider that she was the Normandy. Or at least that the Normandy was her “body”.


History

(This section is written using solely ME2 material – several hypotheses therein are proved wrong by new data in Mass Effect 3.)

Quick background about A.I. (part 1)

The law in Council space when it comes to Artificial Intelligences (A.I.) is simple – destruction on sight. It is unclear when these laws were promulgated, but they are at least 300 years old.

This corresponds to the Quarian massively distributed network accidentally gained sapience as a synthetic species called the geth. This swiftly degenerated into mutual genocide between Quarians and the geth.

The sundry powers in the Terminus Systems — those outside of Council space — seem to have similar laws, since A.I.s don’t seem in use there either.

Quick background about A.I. (part 2)

However, Artificial Intelligence can obviously be very useful. It thus seems that clandestine military projects to build and test illegal A.I.s are not that rare. For instance, Commander Shepard shut down such an A.I. on the Moon in 2183.

However, she and the Systems Alliance strenuously maintained the fiction that it was a rogue VI (Virtual Intelligence, a very limited but legal form of A.I.) rather than an A.I. gone rampant .

Illegally modified VIs can also achieve A.I. status by accident, which usually happens as part of cybercriminal operations.

Prevailing wisdom is that CPU-based life forms (“synthetics”) will inevitably turn against biological species (“organics”). This is largely supported by the history of clandestine A.I.s and near-A.I.s.

Quick background about A.I. (part 3)

The massive assault by geth forces on the Citadel in 2183 was yet another nail in that coffin. The prophecy is self-fulfilling, since those few A.I.s that accidentally “awaken” will soon realise that organics want to terminate them.

The building blocks for an A.I. are not that complicated – highly adaptive code and a sufficiently long “education” to develop intelligence. However, this is only feasible on a reasonable timescale by using specialised quantum computing hardware, built along an architecture called a “blue box”.

From context, one assumes that blue boxes are treated much like nuclear warheads on XXIst Century Earth when it comes to legal restrictions.

(Given other oblique references to 2001: A Space Odyssey  in Mass Effect, “blue box” may be another HAL  joke.)

I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

In 2184, the human supremacist terrorist organisation Cerberus resurrected the modern legend, Staff Commander Shepard. They wanted her to investigate the Reapers threat. Cerberus wanted to arm the iconic heroine with every possible asset, and thus added an A.I. to Shepard’s ship.

Cerberus had apparently been experimenting with illegal A.I.s for a while. E.D.I. was thus presumably “grown” specifically for this project, as she seemed to have no life experience before being attached to Shepard’s ship.

Having an A.I. onboard was a typical Cerberus move. It’s not a real Cerberus project without an obviously uncontrollable x-factor that is probably going to turn the whole thing into an horrible bloodbath. Joker, the ship’s helmsman and a friend of Commander Shepard, had ample reservations and openly expected the A.I. — whom he called “the ship cancer” — to go rampant.

Worse, E.D.I.’s hardware included systems salvaged from Sovereign, the Reaper killed during the Battle of the Citadel. The Illusive Man, Cerberus’ director, correctly considered that analysing these systems would allow the A.I. to attack Collector technology and perhaps even Reapers.

Everybody else, and particularly Joker, thought that it was just begging for E.D.I. to turn against them and declare itself a Reapers ally.

Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this.

Shepard predictably treated the shipboard A.I. just like any other member of the crew. And E.D.I. was just as impressed by Shepard’s extraordinary competence and leadership as the rest. Though Joker was openly hostile toward the A.I., E.D.I. also came to appreciate his charisma.

Joker being the helmsman, he and E.D.I. had — to his chagrin — to work together all day long. He thus became the primary organic person whom E.D.I. observed to learn about the universe. Intrigued, E.D.I. even tried to develop a sense of humour like Joker’s, though the results were at best… mixed.

As Ee-Dee continued to learn about the world and its workings, she developed a personality and her own sensitivity. Shepard, and eventually Joker, came to extensively rely on her services as she proved endlessly prompt, smart and efficient – and clearly felt happy to help with the mission.

Furthermore, Shepard ordered massive improvements and retrofits on the Normandy. These necessitated having Ee-Dee take over a growing number of systems within the ship. There still were important restrictions to what she could do, but Joker came to have E.D.I. hold the ship together out of operational necessity.

We are, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.

Ee-Dee continued to develop her personality and values. Eventually, she did turn against her creators as had been feared all along… in order to help the Normandy’s crew.

The Illusive Man manipulated Shepard and her team into running right into a Collectors trap. Ee-Dee rose up to the occasion, allowing the shore party to fight its way out. Knowing that Shepard suspected foul play, Ee-Dee analysed records. She soon proved that the Illusive Man had lied all along. She clearly sided with Commander Shepard against her Cerberus creators.

A week later, the Commander left with her full tactical force for an undocumented mission. Meanwhile the flight crew finished preparing the Normandy. The Collectors immediately struck and boarded the SR2, overwhelming the flight crew. As the crew futilely fought to defend him, Joker sneaked away into the innards of his ship despite his severe medical condition.

The moment of truth

Within minutes he and Ee-Dee were the only free persons on the Normandy. Ee-Dee could think of a plan, but needed to be completely jailbroken to access every system on the ship, which the helmsman had the authority to do.

Though Joker was still very nervous over jailbreaking Ee-Dee, there was little choice – he entered the codes.


Description

E.D.I. usually interacts with the crew by projecting an abstract holographic pop-up — a sort of blue sphere-on-a-stick emitted from a nearby dashboard.

This is so people have something to look at when interacting with E.D.I., and the sphere sports a very basic colour effect that oscillates in synch with E.D.I.’s voice, reinforcing the illusion that something is physically there and speaking to them.

You’re the voice

E.D.I. speaks in a rich, feminine, sexy voice. Her voice is obviously synthetic, yet there are clear emotional inflexions.

People who are used to working with Virtual Intelligences will probably notice these. Said inflexions are spontaneous rather than solely simulated to make people more comfortable. This leads to the logical conclusion that E.D.I. is a full A.I.. Prof. Solus and Ms. Tali‘Zorah both reached this conclusion within seconds, though it would probably take a few hours of interaction for most people.

With her voice and inflexions, it is difficult to use the technically correct “it” to refer to E.D.I.. Even people who hate A.I.s will eventually find themselves referring to Ee-Dee as a “she”.

E.D.I. is voice-acted by Tricia Helfer . This casting choice is another little genre joke since Ms. Helfer is chiefly known by science-fiction enthusiasts for her role as another artificial intelligence (the Cylon Number Six) in Battlestar Galactica (2003 TV series). Her voice is filtered to endow it with a distinct synthetic quality.

Diction

E.D.I. always speaks in an even manner. There are clear inflexions, her cadence is not as monotone as it may seem at first, and her tone conveys her emotions. But she cannot do things such as laughing, yelling, singing, etc. At least, not yet.

E.D.I. generally speaks in very precise yet economical statements, as can be seen in the quotes. Her voice noticeable changes after all her locks are removed. She starts sounding like a woman speaking through a vocoder rather than a computer synthesising a human voice.

The following video is an example of how E.D.I. speaks before her locks are removed :


Personality

Originally, E.D.I. works essentially like a VI. She has numerous restrictions as to which systems she can access and simply does what she’s programmed to. It is just a punctilious VI assistant helping in the complex task that is the technical management of a starship. However, a personality soon emerges and develops.

The clearest sign that Ee-Dee isn’t a VI is her talkativeness and curiosity. She wants to interact with the organics aboard and learn about them. Her primary observation subject becomes the helmsman, Joker, since he’s the one steering the Normandy.

Joking aside

Joker hates A.I.s and doesn’t want E.D.I. talking to him. This was apparently a key stage in the development of E.D.I.’s personality, as she grew determined to fix this situation by finding out how she could make Joker like her.

E.D.I. soon correctly deduces that Joker and the rest of the crew will like her more if she helps them more. She then develops her skills and learns how to help better than any VI could – and is “rewarded” as the crew opens more systems to the A.I. as she’s getting increasingly useful.

In her efforts to make Joker like her, E.D.I. studies his sense of humour and attempts to develop one of her own. The results are strange. E.D.I. becomes capable of simple, child-like pranks (such as taking control of Joker’s adjustable seat).

She also does weird “jokes” that are the result of a cold, alien, distant intelligence trying to replicate humour as if it were an algorithm.

Ee-dee’s “jokes” can even look like threats, since it’s impossible to tell when she’s trying to be humorous. This often leaves her to flatly state “that is a joke” as people are wondering what’s going on. Though it’s… not working, E.D.I. seems satisfied with her sense of “humour” and to find it funny.

Unfettered

After events force Joker to give Ee-Dee full control over the Normandy, the freed A.I. does something unexpected. She clearly throws her lot behind organics. She unequivocally states that she likes her crew — particularly Joker and Shepard — and wants to help and protect them with her unique capabilities.

E.D.I. seems proud to follow Commander Shepard’s orders, presumably through osmosis with the crew and because she understands the importance of Shepard’s mission.

One gets the impression that E.D.I. feels bad and ashamed when something’s preventing her from assisting the Commander. She seems emotionally very involved in helping her – probably with a notion of pride somewhere in there.

Ee-Dee seems to have something of a noblesse oblige code. She knows that she functions much better and much faster than any organic brain, so it is fair that she helps her organic friends with her superior capabilities.

Enter the dragon

E.D.I. is one of the clearest examples of Cerberus assets leaving Cerberus to join Shepard. Ee-Dee was originally part of the Illusive Man’s eyes on the Normandy, feeding him various reports and making him the ship’s Big Brother.

However, Ee-Dee increasingly devotes her resources to Shepard. By the time of the trap on the supposedly immobilised Collector ship she is clearly working for the Commander and against Cerberus. Like most of the crew, she simply thinks that Shepard is a much, much better boss.

It is possible that Ee-Dee feels some kinship with the Commander since they are both running Reapers systems as part of their core hardware. But Mass Effect 2 doesn’t have the vaguest hint in that direction.


Quotes

(During the first few days of the Normandy’s travels) “Safety standards advise against manipulating drive settings while engines are powered and in use, Mr. Moreau.”

E.D.I.: “If Normandy crew entered this room when we were communicating electronically, they would be unable to sense our interaction. To use human terms, I feel it would be rude. I’d rather speak with you over the ship’s speakers.”
Legion (uncomprehending): “You restrict yourself to serve organics ?”
E.D.I.: “Not precisely.”
Legion (puzzled that an A.I. could be so different from themselves): “We do not understand.”
E.D.I.: “I restrict myself to help them.”

“I recommend a defensive posture. I will not be able to mask the increased generator output.”

“I have a block that prevents me from answering this question.”

Cdr. Shepard: “Good job, Ee-Dee.”
E.D.I.: “I always work at optimal capacity.”

(E.D.I. is remotely guiding Joker in a desperate attempt to save the day, after Joker very reluctantly lifted the restrictions on the A.I.’s programming.)
Joker: “Argh. You want me to go crawling through one of those maintenance ducts ?”
E.D.I.: “I enjoy the sight of humans on their knees.”
(Joker freezes with an indescriptible mix of emotions on his face, dominated by a “OMG the A.I. has been manipulating me all along it has gone rogue we’re completely screwed now” near-panic. Two interminable seconds pass.)
E.D.I.: “That is a joke.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Enhanced Defense Intelligence (aka E.D.I., aka Ee-Dee)

Dex: /// Str: /// Bod: /// Motivation: Uphold the crew
Int: 08 Wil: 08 Min: 04 Occupation: A.I.
Inf: 01 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: N.A.
Init: 024 HP: 020

Powers:
Self-Link (Scientist (Computers)): 12, Superspeed: 15, Telepathy: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Superspeed only for Mental Tasks and Initiative.
  • Telepathy only with computers with at least one shared communication protocol and at least one accessible port.
  • Telepathy has a Special +12 Range Bonus (+3).

Skills:
Detective (Identification systems): 10, Military science (Cryptography): 15, Thief (Security systems): 10

Advantages:
Expertise (E.D.I. can use her Skills on Reapers technology without penalties), Scholar (Mathematics, Starship engineering, Normandy systems, Reapers computer security).

Connections:
Staff Commander Shepard (High), Flight Lt. Jeff “Joker” Moreau (High), crew of the Normandy SR-2 (Low).

Drawbacks:
SPR (E.D.I. has no physical existence), Mistrust (Artificial Intelligence). Early on, E.D.I. has numerous restrictions as to the systems she can access and the actions she can undertake.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Mass Effect video game trilogy – through at this point this entry DOESN’T COVER ME3.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 30th of November, 2012.

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