After what appears to be a slightly bungled announcement, visitors of what was supposed to be a countdown website could follow through to see the above image, a clear statement that System Shock 3 is being made.
Check out the website here. According to Gamespot, Paul Neurath, veteran of the original game, is the founder of Otherside, whose logo appears on the announcement page. That's great news for a franchise which needs to be handled correctly, and it's great news for fans of creepy sci-fi, as we'll likely be seeing the return of SHODAN.
In the meantime, we've had Portal's GLaDOS filling the unreliable narrator AI space, which has been great, and funny. But SHODAN isn't about being funny. It's about being horrific, and eerily real. It's that "holy crap this could actually happen" brand of sci-fi.
It comes at a perfect time, too, when some of the world's greatest thinkers are warning us that this AI thing could really be something to worry about, and we should at the very least start thinking about our policies and safeguards. Philosophers and AI engineers alike are trying to think of a framework for what core commands to program into an AI, should it become all-powerful. If neglected, we could have a commercial expandabot ruining our planet. If done poorly, we could have the wrong people in control of it. If done right, we could actually be, in our lifetimes, in the presence of what is basically a benevolent god.
Think that's insane? The AI community doesn't. Based on a survey of experts, there's a 90% chance that we'll see an Artificial General Intelligence (around as smart as a human) by 2075. That's the safe bet. The median answer was 2040, meaning after the transition to superintelligent AI, it could only be 2060.
That's why this is the perfect time for SHODAN. It's more topical than ever, and it's kind of important, long term, to get people thinking about these things. If we're to be ready, we need to start preparing our legal, technical, moral, and philosophical policies now.
It's a hard thing to pull off properly, though. The thing about a superintelligent AI is that humans wouldn't be able to comprehend how it thinks. It'd be like a mouse trying to understand how we humans think. So how do you write such a character? It's a tough gig, but it's encouraging to see the original creator linked to the project.
For those wanting to know more about AI, I highly recommend Wait But Why. As for more info on System Shock 3, after this slight trip-up you can expect a cautious, steady drip of controlled information until release. Hopefully it won't be long before there's a trailer.