The Network is a ancient, advanced rogue military AI with only one goal: TO KILL!

Luckily for every species that has encountered The Network in the span of known history, it doesn't want to kill them; it reserves its digital blood lust for some as-yet unknown species.

This AI is advanced enough to understand that it lacks the strategic ability to replenish, expand and improve it's own fighting capability, so it seeks to make use of the species it knows about to gather raw materials and produce replacement parts and new weapons of war for it. But what can it offer to those species?

Also, the AI had learned simply slaughtering or mass enslaving them all collapses their societies and renders them useless for its purposes, so no genocide.


closed as off-topic by Mołot, Renan, JBH, elemtilas, Dubukay Jan 12 at 23:02

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  • $\begingroup$ This question is in the VTC queue as off-topic being too story-based (OT:TSB) and it is at least that. (a) without knowing the psychology of every species The Netowrik encounters, your question is impossible to answer. (b) Without knowing the exact resources available to The Network, it is impossible to determine how a known species (e.g., humans) could contribute to its goals. Both (a) and (b) are completely dependent on your story. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 12 at 22:25

Communications and Diplomacy

The Network is a very old AI, with lots of knowledge of different languages and plenty of diplomatic experience, hard-earned. It makes contact with many different species, and acts as an interpreter, arbitrator, and judge between them.

Normal-ish trade

Because the Network is often the first "species" that interstellar species make first contact with, it is a favorable trading partner with many species. It buys raw materials from other nations and refines and processes them. It sells "castoffs," FTL drives and computers that don't work as well as it needs.

In modern computer manufacturing, the difference between a 4GHz and 2GHz chip is how well they did on the quality control checks. In the same way, much of the galactic FTL drive market is dominated by the Network, which sells the FTL drives that aren't good enough for it to everyone else. The galactic market doesn't have to create the huge infrastructure needed for FTL drives, and the Network can get huge amounts of raw resources, far more than it actually needs.

An alliance, and a threat

One of the first things the Network tells any race it meets is about the species that it's programmed to kill. It paints this species as horrendous, aggressive, deceitful, and xenocidial, hating and wanting to kill all aliens. This species did wipe out the Network's creators, after all*.

It then suggests that in the event of this species showing up, they should band together in an alliance and fight it together. It's not going to make a formal alliance before that happens - it doesn't want to waste its resources fighting in the organics' wars, but it will as soon as the species shows up.

*This might not actually be true in-story, but the Network will certainly claim this was the case. After all, if they've wiped out one race already, what's another?


Now I would imagine your AI having one of the following 'characters':

  • An economical AI might put things forth after a matter of trading. Offering it's services for all manner of things, from legal work to farm optimisation, from data analysis to leadership training, depending on what knowledge it has gathered.
    The AI then uses it's wealth to build up a mercenary force or expand it's own capabilities, so as to wage war on this civilization once it appears.
  • A political AI might use it's analytical and diplomatic skills to work all civilizations together, creating one vast nation spanning all races. While doing this it builds bonds of trust with 'the nation', leading the races to believe the AI wise and trustworthy.
    As soon as the AI discovers it's hated civilisation, it alerts everyone of the danger their in, manufacturing vast amounts of propaganda and dehumanizing the aliens (the irony).
    Suddenly one has a nationalist 'nation' believing this new race to be a threatening 'untermensch' (similar to the Third Reich and the Jews).
  • A scientific AI might help these civilisations advance their respective technologies far beyond the AI's own capabilities, but in such a way that the AI may unexpectedly take advantage of them. An example may be helping a race build a higly complex mining laser and allowing the AI access to the power circuitry for simplicity's sake, or because controlling it is simply deemed to complex for other forms of automation. The AI then instructs them to point it at a nearby asteroid (conveniently lined up with the home planet of the targeted species) before overriding the power feed to blast through the asteroid and obliterating the planet.
    For a more subtle approach, let the other civilizations discover the species and be stupid enough to damage it's habitat while inspecting it, effectively exterminating the species out of curiosity or failure. This could happen by settling an invasive species on the planet, feeding off the population with no other natural predators and the population unable to defend itself from this alien creature. (That was not intended to turn so dark.)

I hope this povides some inspiration.


A highly advanced AI can offer to any species that it encounters the plans for new weaponry to protect them from their enemies. Technology to get better yields and mine better and faster. The price is too good to be true: The AI just wants the race to build it a computer that can become its friend.

Of course, the AI does not tell them that there is a tiny hardcoded program in the designs that is responsible that everything works at all... and at the same time allows the AI to take over any and all machines that were made with this chip.

If the AI is particularly friendly it might spread its technology to a lot of species, and if it finds its archnemesis, it can field not one space force, not two, but that of as many races as took the generous offer of the AI that just wanted some AI friends... that are all doing exactly the same as the first AI, as they are copies!



The Network is always preparing, always capitalizing on Fear of The Other. It infects the societies it encounters with this fear - that The Other is out there, ready to corrupt and devour all that We hold dear. With the guidance of the Network, fractious cultures of a world come together to prepare against this common foe The Other remains undiscovered and will never be discovered, because there is no Other. The possibility of the Other exists only to cement the reality of Us. The Network does not know this.

Its creators did.


The AI’s target species is unknown, but one of the ways it can identify it is that they’ll be hostile to the AI.

Not assisting the AI with its mission is hostile.

The AI is known to be honest in its dealings, so if you help it (within your civilisation’s abilities), it will leave you untouched.

It’s also known to be absolutely lethal to anyone who opposes it. Remember that small wannabe empire who thought they could just steal technology from it? Yeah, their star system is now a black hole...


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