Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2 & Mass Effect 3
A virtual intelligence is an advanced form of user interface software. VIs use a variety of methods to simulate natural conversation, including an audio interface and an avatar personality to interact with. Although a VI can provide a convincing number emulation of sentience, they are not self-aware, nor can they learn or take independent action.
VIs are used as operating systems on commercial and home computers. Minimal VI 'agents' are also available. Agents are compact and specialized. Some serve as personal secretaries, filtering calls and scheduling meetings based on user-defined priorities. Others are advanced search engines, propagating themselves across the extranet to collate user-requested data.
Commercial VIs in a variety of stock personalities are available at any software retailer. Boutique items and hobbyists also build unique VIs to personal specification. Although software emulation of living personalities is illegal, reconstructions of famous historical figures are common.