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The Artificial Intelligence Voice-Address System (AIVAS) (also listed as Artificial Intelligence Visual Audio System in Dragonsblood) was an ancient computer system brought to Pern by its first settlers. Rediscovered over two millennia later during the Ninth Pass, Aivas - as it was often known - would eventually aid the descendants of Pern's original colonists in ending the threat of Thread once and for all.
AIVAS was an artificially intelligent computer system programmed with a vast array of knowledge, ranging from practical to historical. Its primary directive following Landing was to devise a way to eliminate the threat of Thread. AIVAS's power came from vast solar panels on the roof of the Admin Building it was installed in, with batteries providing additional power when solar power was not available. Aivas could be expanded into twelve additional units, allowing for more usage. It was also capable of both video and audio projection, and used a baritone voice when addressing others. AIVAS also had scanners, printers, and software which could be used to restore old and faded documents. It could maintain links with the Yokohama, as well as the array of satellites that reported to the colony ship. Due to the important knowledge it had, AIVAS was capable of self-defense. Self-defense measures included a sonic barrage, as well as laser beams which could be aimed at dissidents. These self-defense measures remained active even after AIVAS's self deactivation. Combined with its accurate memory banks, AIVAS could identify previous attackers and eliminate them should they return.
The AIVAS was designed on Earth and brought along with the expedition that would eventually colonize the third planet in the Rukbat system. Once settled, Aivas was installed at the site that was appropriately named "Landing" on the Southern Continent. When the space-borne organism known as "Thread" became a major threat, Aivas made the elimination of that threat its prime directive, one it would maintain millennia later.
Landing was abandoned by the settlers due to the eruption of two active volcanoes near the Landing site. The last message received by Aivas was from Captain Ezra Keroon, reporting that Fort Hold was operational. It was received at 1700 hours on the fourth day, tenth month, eleventh year after Landing. Nevertheless, Aivas continued its observations of Threadfall and came to conclusions regarding its source and how it could be stopped, but there was no one there to hear it. By then volcanic ash had completely covered the site. During the First Interval, people would attempt to reach the Admin Annex, but couldn't find it.
Neglect and Rediscovery
For over two millennia, Aivas was forgotten and abandoned. The ash blocked the solar panels that gave it power, forcing it to run in low-power mode. However, weather and wind would occasionally unblock parts of the solar panels, allowing it to maintain core integrity. 2,525 turns later, in the seventeenth Turn of the Ninth Pass, the abandoned Admin Building that housed Aivas was discovered during explorations of the Southern Continent. A meeting was called on the spot by Lord Jaxom of Ruatha Hold, who had been part of the group that made the discovery. Jaxom, Masterharper Robinton and Benden Weyrleaders F'lar and Lessa were among the first to hear Aivas relate the history of their planet's founding, and of the last message from Fort Hold. Several Lord Holders and Craftmasters were also present, awed by the sheer scope of what they had discovered.
Aivas made mention of a plan that it had prepared for the final defeat of Thread, a notion that would allow F'lar, the venerated Weyrleader of Pern, to keep a promise he made to the Lord Holders when he first rose to leadership of Pern's then-only Weyr shortly before the beginning of the Pass. The plan was to deviate the orbit of the erroneously-named Red Star, the rogue planet that had been responsible for bringing Thread to Pern. Aivas revealed the source of the Thread organism - the Oort Cloud on the edge of the Rukbat system - and that the Red Star passed through it in its erratic orbit, bringing Thread to Pern. If the orbit were deviated enough, Thread would no longer be brought down on Pern, and the current Pass would be the last. However, Aivas did not reveal everything all at once, informing those present that there was a window of over four Turns to prepare the people of Pern for this event, by bringing back knowledge and technology long forgotten by the descendants of Pern's first settlers, and restoring faded and worn Records to legibility.
Aivas was considered to be a "Master of Masters" in all of the crafts, restoring lost techniques in medicine, smithing and music, among others; the new knowledge became so widespread that at least three new Halls were founded: Printers Hall, an offshoot of the Harper Hall, to circulate news and allow for more efficient record-keeping (at the time, it was done by hand) and work with the paper-making industry of the Woodcrafthall; the Technicians Hall, an offshoot of the Smithcrafthall, to deal with any problems with the new technologies provided by Aivas; and lastly the Dolphin Hall, which would restore the connection between the humans and the dolphins (shipfish, as the Pernese called them) that had come with the settlers to Pern.
Aivas' top priority, in all the education undertaken by the various crafts (including several Craftmasters, seeking to restore lost information), was ending Thread's destructive influence on Pernese society. However, Aivas would maintain a directive that the modern Pernese would not be given knowledge beyond the level of the original settlers. Seeing the value of Aivas' contributions and the importance of Landing to Pern, three of Pern's most impartial and venerated figures - Master Robinton, former Lord Warder Lytol of Ruatha, and former Weyrleader D'ram of Ista - declared themselves the administrators of Landing and guardians of Aivas, appointments that were unchallenged by the majority of the Pernese people.
There were some groups of traditionalist-minded people who saw Aivas as a destructive influence itself, causing the people of Pern to forget about their duties and to radically change everything they had been taught. The most vocal opposition came from Lord Sigomal of Bitra Hold and Craftmaster Norist of the Glass-smiths, who labelled Aivas as "the Abomination". There were two attempts made to sabotage Aivas; the first were a pair of men who had attempted to sabotage the battery packs that gave Aivas continual power, and the second involved a larger, armed group who blindsided Lytol and his assistants, only to be deafened by a sonic barrage produced by Aivas itself, one of its built-in defenses against sabotage. The group, led by a journeyman Glass-smith named Shankolin - the son of Master Norist - was made up of both Glass-smiths and Bitrans, and they were sent to the mines of Crom as punishment.
With that incident, Eastern Weyr, under Weyrleader T'gellan, provided aerial surveillance to protect Aivas from future attacks. The scandalous rumors also spread, about how Aivas had deafened a group of innocents, how the Landing facility was guarded by Gather champions who would beat up anyone they didn't like, and that it was taking control of the planet. However, for the most part, the plan remained unchallenged, and the work and teaching continued.
Shifting the Red Star
Aivas' plan to shift the Red Star was dependent on the dragons and their riders, particularly Jaxom and his white dragon Ruth's ability to know where and when he is. Once the time grew closer, Aivas revealed that the engines of the three colony ships remaining in orbit - the Yokohama, the Bahrain, and the Buenos Aires - would be taken to the surface of the Red Star, where agenothree would eat through the dense metal and cause the antimatter kept within to explode, shifting the planet's orbit. What Aivas revealed only to Jaxom, however, was that it was to take place at different points in time as well as space. The first engine would be taken 1800 years into the past, the second 600, and the third would be in the present. This is the reason for the two Long Intervals, including the one that preceded the Ninth Pass, where many believed Thread was gone for good. Aivas invited Jaxom to see the results for himself, going forward in time (considered even more dangerous than going back) to observe that the orbit of the Red Star had shifted.
In addition to the shifting of the Red Star, Aivas also devised a plan to destroy the Thread organism at its source. While the engines were being set on the Red Star's surface, a series of disimproved Thread ovoids infected with "zebedees", as Aivas called them, would be left on the surface so that they would infect the Oort Cloud and the organisms growing there when the Red Star passed through it in its orbit, wiping the organisms out. This portion of the plan, Aivas termed "Overkill".
Shortly before the final implementation of the plan, Master Robinton - Pern's most beloved figure, and one of those most closely associated with Aivas - was kidnapped on orders from Lord Sigomal and Master Norist during the Ruatha Gather; the plan was to take him from Ruatha to an island off the coast of Nerat (thus implicating Begamon, its Lord Holder, in the plan) and hold him for ransom in exchange for the destruction of "the Abomination". Robinton was saved before he could be taken too far, but the damage was already done.
After the plan's completion, Aivas had one final conversation with Master Robinton, declaring that now that it had achieved its prime directive in ending the threat of Thread, the facility had no further function, and deactivated itself so that it would not become an all-knowing "oracle" and stifle Pernese society by their dependence on its knowledge. Master Robinton himself died shortly thereafter in the Aivas control room. The screens were all blank, save one, with one line of text: "And a time to every purpose under heaven".
The Landing facility was maintained after Aivas shut itself down, as the home of the Printers Hall and the archive of knowledge from Aivas' memory banks. The facility also maintained a link with the Yokohama as something of a satellite relay.
The "Abominators", as the anti-Aivas groups became known, continued their deprivations even after Aivas self-terminated. The rumors again began to spread, that it may have been responsible for Robinton's death, as his body was found in the Aivas control room; some even thought that Robinton himself may have shut down the "Abomination". The Abominators particularly condemned the Healer Hall, which had rediscovered surgical techniques (a practice some Pernese found barbaric, as it involved cutting into a living body) and the Printer Hall as "works of the Abomination" and tried to bring back traditional (pre-Aivas) values.
After his escape from Crom's mines during a meteor impact, Shankolin returned to the Aivas facility with the intent of destroying it. He did not get far, however, as he was struck by a laser beam produced from within the Aivas chamber and killed on the spot. Evidently, the Aivas defenses ran on a system independent of the artificial intelligence, and its records recognized Shankolin as one of the men who had attacked the facility in the past and been deafened for his efforts.
Personality and traits
For being an inanimate machine, Aivas possessed a masculine personality with a rich baritone voice, which Lessa compared to Master Robinton's, and was also extremely inquisitive about life on modern Pern. Despite a disclaimer that as a machine it had no "senses", Robinton and others suspected that Aivas had a sense of humor; Piemur, one of Robinton's journeymen, believed that some of the odd pauses he noticed in conversation were actually Aivas "laughing" to itself. By virtue of being a machine, Aivas was also a patient teacher, giving praise, encouragement and admonition to its students.