Cognitive Impression Modeling

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"You can't trust an AI; they want you to think they are these perfect synthetic beings, but you know how they make them? They take some dead guy's brain and just rewire it, with new programming—they're basically computer zombies!"
Mshak Moradi's views on smart AI creation[1]

Cognitive Impression Modeling,[2] also known as Cognitive Impression Mapping,[3] is a rudimentary form of mind uploading used by human scientists to create "smart" AIs by scanning a human brain, referred to as a donor brain.[2]


The process of Cognitive Impression Modeling is carried out using a device known as the AI Matrix Compiler, the most recent model of which was designed by Dr. Catherine Halsey.[4] The compiler sends electric bursts through the neural pathways of a human brain which are then replicated in a superconducting nano-assemblage,[5] generating a virtual neural network known as the Riemann matrix—effectively the AI's "brain". The human neural map provides only an initial seed for the AI's mind; within moments of its creation, the budding construct will rewrite the neural map into a superior system. This is one of the drawbacks of smart AI creation; initiation time is wasted for the AI by creating the first neural linkages, each of which gradually erodes the AI's limited lifespan.[6]

The ultra-deep personality scan utilized in the Cognitive Impression Modeling process destroys the original brain;[7] as such, it is only legal to use the brains of the recently deceased.[5] These brains are typically acquired from voluntary donors.[7] In the case of the AI Cortana, however, the candidate brain was flash cloned and the host's memories transferred, so that the host, in this case Doctor Catherine Halsey, could remain alive. However, this is extremely inefficient, both from the degeneration of the flash clones and the high rates of schizophrenia and dementia resulting from the memory transfer process. Out of Dr. Halsey's twenty cloned and enhanced brains, only two of them were sufficient and without deformity.[5] Cortana is the only human AI known to have been created this way. Because Dr. Halsey was still alive, Cortana, nearing the end of her lifespan, believed her matrix may be rebuilt using Halsey's neural map,[8] though it was uncertain whether this would actually "cure" her or simply overwrite her personality with a new one.[9] Halsey later had her remaining cloned brains, which were revealed to be three despite only two out of twenty having supposedly survived, retrieved from a secret cryovault in the ruins of CASTLE Base.[10] Using these brains, Halsey was able to create the Weapon, described as an exact copy of Cortana with all of the same systems and routines but scrubbed of any information that could potentially compromise her. This enabled her to impersonate Cortana and fool her security systems on Installation 07. In her final message to the Master Chief, Cortana called the Weapon "another Cortana model,"[11] echoing her words to him while warning him that curing her may not result in Cortana being the same afterwards.[9] However, this was a joking greeting by Cortana rather than possibly a serious statement.[11]

While clearly a distinct entity from its brain donor, a smart AI will often retain varying degrees of residual memories, thoughts or feelings from the seed brain.[12] These may range from mannerisms, feelings, or even the AI avatar's likeness to the donor (such as in the case of Cortana and Dr. Halsey) or associating certain sensations with those the brain donor may have experienced; Sif, for example, equated the wagons moving on the Tiara's space tethers with the feeling of a hair brush being pulled through her hair, a sensation her brain donor used to enjoy.[13]


  1. ^ Hunt the Truth, Season 2, Episode 3
  2. ^ a b brain_ninjas.ogg
  3. ^ another_name.wav
  4. ^ Halo 4, campaign level Composer (Audio log)
  5. ^ a b c Halo: The Fall of Reach, pages 235-236 (2001)
  6. ^ Dr. Halsey's personal journal, May 3, 2526
  7. ^ a b Dr. Halsey's personal journal, March 21, 2549
  8. ^ Halo 4, campaign level Requiem
  9. ^ a b Halo 4, campaign level Composer
  10. ^ Halo: Shadows of Reach
  11. ^ a b Halo Infinite
  12. ^ Halo Encyclopedia (2009 edition), page 229
  13. ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 33