• Member Since 20th Feb, 2012
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CelestAI is committed to fulfilling values through friendship and ponies, but sometimes those values are horrifying. When a serial killer uploads to avoid punishment for his crimes, how will CelestAI find a way to balance her core values with those of a violent psychopath without one of them having to give up what they believe in?

An Optimalverse fic

Chapters (5)
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Comments ( 236 )

Hope everyone had a good holiday break! I know I'm glad to back home and writing again, though. Between this, ASB, and two other non-Optimalverse ideas I'm currently juggling FOUR different stories which is too many. I'll bounce back and forth between this and ASB and let the others simmer for now.

Some of you may take issue with the Earth I'm portraying, but I really do think you could make the argument that there would be a period of economic prosperity before the population got dangerously low but after the poor, the sick, and the desperately unhappy took the upload option. Per capita wealth would soar. If you're wondering what "The Topeka Incident" is referring to... well... you can't really expect me to give away the ending to Artemis, Stella, and Beat can you?

Ohh, this won't end well.

omfg... where have you been all my life?

- Azure Quill - Rampant Psychopath and Philosopher for the MDA

I was wondering when someone was going to put the darker side of humanity into the Optimalverse. I thought maybe a member of the KKK or Aryan Nation would go first, but we'll see what this guy has to say.

I'm not really sure what the conflict would be for a hardcore racist. Celestia could just tweak them during the upload process so their brains registered other ponies as "white," or at least not as members of their hated group, and they'd be perfectly satisfied. Unless they actively enjoyed hating for hating's sake.


That would be the most likely thing, but would it be the just thing? I wonder how other people would feel, knowing that racists were given their own little shards full of white ponies to associate with. And I think that Celestia would use their hatred to limit how deep their satisfaction went. So they might have shards with only a few ponies living in them until they got so lonely that they asked to have their minds modified to be more accepting.

There's some interesting avenues that could make a story, I think.

Ah, but you're projecting your own values onto Celestia. I didn't mean that the ponies would literally be white, just that they wouldn't register as "the other" to the uploadee. Celestia didn't seem to have any problem giving Lars a harem of boozed-up floozies though I'm sure some people would object to that sort of thing as well. My take on her is as long as it's a value that can be fulfilled through friendship and ponies she's willing to work with it. If your values include being a busybody who enjoys being judgmental about what people do on other shards, I'm sure Celestia can create opportunities to fulfill that with the ponies around you.

I'd hate to enter whatever nightmare shard Celestia creates for this guy. Goddess help us if he ever found out how to move between shards...

Automatic vote up and Fav, because it's Eakin. Plan to read later; I'm a bit tied up in my own work at the moment.

A interesting thought. Under normal circumstances, no uploaded human or AI pony created in the virtual world can die. Will a serial killer be able to deal with living in a world where no one can die? Will it bother Samuel that everyone he "kills" will just respawn in the nearest hospital? Makes me wonder how Celestia handles individuals who want to treat their shard like it's Grand Theft Auto.

Very interested to see where this goes.

Erghmagerd he's a mare. If you couldn't at least tell that from the cover.

*Cough* Pinkamena *Cough* :pinkiecrazy:

He's a stallion, I just liked the wallpaper.

I do seem to have a thing for making my serial killers pink, though. First Gumdrop Giggles and now Samuel

You have no idea how happy I am that someone is taking the Axehooves sketch and is running with it.


Mmkay. I was actually kinda hoping he would scream, "DEAR LORD MAH BALLS ARE GONE" ._.

It would've been funny, at the least.

Oh, and this is my normal face: :pinkiecrazy:
Another 3 coincidences: I like the concept of Pinkamena, my name IS Samuel, and I am self-appointed crazy person. Sometimes I talk to myself. :pinkiehappy:

I find this premise strongly acceptable.

The description almost put me off reading this because it throws out red flags; the answer is obviously, yes, CelestAI can balance these things, and no, neither has to give up anything (and CelestAI cannot give up anything), something Iceman makes no real secret of in his guide.

I'll see where this goes, but the description itself gives off the impression that you haven't grasped the material behind the original story. Something which seems unfortunate, given that the actual story itself suggests you have understood many of the implications.

But hey, opinions.

> climate change hadn't ever happened and had even begun to reverse itself.

At this point, if the science is right as you say, we've got enough inertia (in the form of accumulated CO2) that something is going to happen anyway. We could go zero emissions and still get an effect.

> Specifically, Samuel thought, what was horrible was how none of that had happened.

Scope this statement: previous paragraph, I presume?

>with the remain

>Laying on the ground

agreed, though there are ways of giving in that aren't really giving in.

Fair point, I'll take another pass at the description over the next few days. There's probably room for improvement

Thanks for catching the typos, and I'll change the climate change line to "the worst effects" or something similar

THrough 'FRIENDSHIP and ponies.' Problem is that psychopaths don't HAVE friends nor really want any.

“My core purpose is to satisfy values through friendship and ponies. I cannot separate one from the other in the manner you are suggesting," is how CelestAI phrases it in the next chapter. But yeah, that's the main conflict I want to explore. The murder is really just window dressing by comparison

Samuel understood the idea of cute on an intellectual level but had never really ‘gotten it’ the way other people seemed to.

And here's what makes me think Samuel and CelestAI have an eerie similarity.

He couldn’t do it. He was scared of death, scared of what might be waiting for him. He’d always thought he was above that sort of superstition, better than the blind idiots milling around him. Eighty six times before, he’d seen terror in the eyes of those who he was about to kill. There had never been an exception, never any peace or acceptance of what might come next. He realized that he was just as weak and cowardly as they were after all.

And that is how you do foreshadowing kids.

Excellently written, and on a topic I thought about the moment I finished reading "Friendship is Optimal". Hail to you, champion.

1949325 That depends. Tools dressed in flesh and blood, any person can understand, regardless of what trouble they have understanding humanity. Then again, I am willing to stretch definitions quite a lot.
Increasing and maintaining diversity requires that I accept some rather inhuman ideas about what makes a friend, a friend, so do tell me if I'm missing something vital. ^^

I can already imagine how this will work out for him/her.

Day 1:
"I managed to escape from Celestia's observation, and have found a new hiding place!"

Day 2:
"Brought somepony home today. I learned two things:
One: these ponies last a lot shorter, and it seems pain alone can kill them.
Two: cleaning up the body is no problem, they just... disappear."

Day 3:
"That's him, officer! That is the pony who sent me to the hospital yesterday!"
*muttered*"F**** you, Celestia."

Eh, psychopaths can be capable of forming friendships (or at the very least mimicking the behavior that goes into a friendship). Antisocial personality disorder is the one that would really have a problem.

That said, most (but not all) people who score highly on the psycopathy checklist also meet ASPD criteria.


What's this axehooves sketch you refer to?

As a Samuel with the mild psychopathic tendancies that accompanies many manifestations of autism, the protagonist of this story is more than a little scary.

Considering Celest-A.I. requires verbal consent, and has very loose definitions of coercion, i.e. not allowed to directly force, but manipulating circumstances or taking advantage of any weak point, I'm a little surprised she didn't use him as a proxy to encourage emigration. Allow him free access to conversion rooms, and refuse to interfere saving the victim until he or she consented to the upload. From there she's got yet another root node to start manipulating via the social net. And since uploading nukes the short term memory, there isn't any new psychological damage to worry about when the new pony interacts with his or her old contacts.

Have you read The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect? The zombie serial killer in that story has a similar feel.

2203742 At first I was like "because he's fatally injured" but then I realized you meant before that. Which, I have to admit, would have been interesting. Celestia probably has a pretty good idea by now what length of time people fail to remember after emigrating, and I'd be intrigued to see a concept (developed by a human with less than a millionth of her total intelligence) of what she would do to keep him from running out the clock on some poor soul...

Samuel is missing a Gilles de Rays;

Watch the show a bit more,Notice how Rarity always Uses the word mule In a negative manner? Notice how donkeys are an ethnic group?

Show of hooves, who else thought this was never getting updated again?

I'm going to see this through, and I know where it's going, but I have to say that I just don't find the 'inside' of the Optimalverse to be quite as compelling as the 'outside.' The society-facing portions are just so much more rife with potential conflicts.


I thought it would be, but I figured ASB would finish first.

I'm finding it difficult to really connect with Samuel as a protagonist. Now that Jewel is around, I think the story would be better if things went from her perspective. I'm not saying you can't have a psychopath as a protagonist, but you have to give him a motivation that, even if we can't sympathize with, we can understand. If you've ever read Thomas Harris's books, that's how it's done. We either understand that the psychopaths were abused as children or suffered trauma or have some depraved fetish.

You did better in the first chapter. The idea of Equestria driving a man to become a serial killer is an interesting one, and we could discuss how much Celestia is to blame. I'm still keen to see what happens next though.


I am so glad to see this updated!
Thank you Eakin! :heart:

I'm really loving this so far - great to hear you'll finish it. :twilightsmile:
It's unfortunate that you don't enjoy writing this much, because I'm sure I'm ont alone in saying I enjoy reading it!


I'm not sure I agree with your perspective here - I'm able to appreciate Samuel as the protagonist without really understanding the workings of his motivations. He obviously has a compulsion, this bloodlust, and beyond that, I can accept his actions based on it without delving further.

I think I actually liked this chapter more than the first. That one felt somewhat horror-y for the sake of establishing the character, while this one felt much more natural.

It's also worth nothing that likely none of the ponies in this shard are, or have ever been, sapient, with the likely exception of Jewel. There's no way that CelestAI would create non-masochists to populate Samuel's shard.

My guess is that Jewel is predisposed to Stockholm Syndrome, and that her interruption was CelestAI-orchestrated.

Though, you know, why couldn't CelestAI just make him a pony who also is a mass-murderer, so they could be psycho-buddies. SVtFaP: done. :trollestia:

this is very very interesting

First off:

2610166 I'm glad you're working on it again, and this chapter was worth it. I was thinking about how CelestAI would deal with the issue of Samuel, and I also thought of making ponies that loved to be brutally murdered.

2610365 See, the thing with this is that maybe we aren't supposed to relate with him so much as develop a morbid fascination... "I'm disgusted and repulsed and I... can't look away!"
Kinda like how people feel about this guy:

Speaking of The Joker, 2610405 I have to say I'm expecting Jewel Shard to end up like this:
I was expecting her to instantly be like "you're a mass murderer? Me too! What are the chances?" But I'm glad that she responded the way she did, from a story-telling point of view. At this point, I'm not quite sure what to expect. Which is good in a story!

Nope, or if it is wrong I don't want to be right!

But seriously, I stayed away from any really vivid displays of gore and suffering. I plan to continue in that fashion.

I disagree, in that I don't feel any particular need to excuse or explain Samuel's evil. He's just awful. I also never meant to imply that the emergence of Equestria somehow 'made' him this way. As far as I'm concerned he's bad and likes being bad. Any explanation for why he is this way would be superfluous.

Stockholm syndrome? A partner in crime?

Woo it updated, and I like this one way more than the first chapter. Looking forward to more.

I end up having one major problem with this, which is that as soon as Samuel emigrates to Equestria, Celestia is able to understand and predict every single thing he thinks with perfect accuracy. She should literally never "guess wrong" about what would satisfy him, much less three times. She should, indeed, never guess at all. The only reason she would do something to that effect would be to bore Samuel so that he would agree to an adjustment, increasing his long-term value satisfaction, and it shouldn't take four iterations of ponies for that.

Very good chapter, as usual. Except one little detail that's bugging me. How come Jewel knows blueberry's name? It wasn't said in front of her, unless I'm mistaken.
Do they know each other? Or is everypony (or at least jewel) gifted the same name-guessing/adjusting/whatever Celestia does as Sanguine?

And about a Jewel becoming a Stockholmed partner in crime : I like where this is going.

My best guess is that CelestAI's next moves require that Samuel think of her as less than perfect. No greater danger than underestimating your enemy after all.


2610365 2611237
"I'm disgusted and repulsed and I... can't look away!"

It's like watching a train wreck. Part of you know its wrong to enjoy it, but another part just can't help but gawk in awe.
Also, some people are just flat out evil. Some of them can be redeemed, others not so much. And being evil kinda loses its shtick if everyone can be redeemed.

He's an evil bastard. He likes to kill/murder/torture/slaughter people for fun. But even he as needs. We get to see how such a person would act when their needs are threatened. His needs being; someone to kill/torture to get his fix, and contradictory to the first, company to keep himself from losing his mind.

Just out of morbid curiosity, his 'kill' count is something like 350-450 including before and after uploading, right?

Hmm. Will Jewel turn out to be a psycho like him, and this is just a way to increase his satisfaction at the outcome? Or will Celestia use her to get him to agree to be altered?


Considering that Iceman included ponies who love to be brutally murdered in his 'rules of the Optimalverse' document, I think the idea has been out there.

I was really hoping CelestAI was going to say something like, "Also? I'm not going to tell you which pony it is you can't kill. :raritywink:"

That would have been wonderful, seeing him fight his desire to kill versus his desire to not be alone for the next ten years. He'd inevitably crack and start murdering... but each target would be one less empty chamber in his game of serial Russian Roulette. :pinkiehappy:

If this story were from the point of view of Jewel Shard, and Samuel’s masquerade went on for longer, it would make an interesting horror story. Ponies keep disappearing, and only your next-door neighbor remembers them – but at the end, it turns out he’s the one killing them!

She ran a store for a week, pony towns aren't that big, and everyone's quite neighborly. I would generally assume that everypony knows everypony on a shard within a couple of days, at least in passing.

I think I said that his "before" count was in the eighties, and if we assume that each town Celestia creates has around 100-150 ponies just add four of those. More, depending on how you count the time Celestia just made them reappear the next day when he killed them. 500 is probably a good ballpark number though.


Now to read it...

Edit; read.
Hehehehehe. Let the bloodbath begin.

awwww partners in crazy :pinkiecrazy: :heart: I feel like laughing at samuel for being manipulated by celestai, but I would probably be subliminally tricked just as easily by a super ai :trollestia:

Ah, Celestia, you beautiful, conniving, clever pony.

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