Samaritan is a device developed contemporaneously with the Machine by a student colleague of Harold Finch's. According to its creator, Arthur Claypool, its focus lies less in the categorization of relevant and irrelevant as the Machine does, but more so on its artificial intelligence capabilities. Unlike the Machine, which operates autonomously and provides numbers only when it perceives a threat, Samaritan is fully targetable. ("Root Path (/)")
Samaritan was developed as part of an attempt by U.S. engineers and programmers to build a mass surveillance system that the United States government could use to prevent acts of terrorism after 9/11. Arthur Claypool, a former university peer of Harold Finch, along with an unknown number of associates created Samaritan.
Claypool was close to finishing Samaritan when suddenly the government shut down their projects and destroyed all their work. Unknown to anyone, Claypool saved two backup tape drives that contained the Samaritan code. Later, when Claypool's number comes up, Finch and Shaw discover that Vigilance, Decima and the government, led by Control, are after Claypool because of what he knows about Samaritan.
Finch and Shaw help Arthur find the hidden Samaritan drives and persuade him to destroy them. Finch convinces Claypool that Samaritan, as an open system, can be deadly were it to fall into the wrong hands. Unknown to them, Greer of Decima Technologies has used them to take possession of the real two Samaritan drives. ("Aletheia")
Later on Decima steals the two remaining Samaritan drives and they begin to rebuild it. They steal six hydro-electric generators to power the hardware, and are later able to steal a chip powerful enough to reliably run the Samaritan program. As the completion of Samaritan progresses, the Machine begins calculating the threats exposed. ("Root Path (/)")
Decima later completes Samaritan and offers to showcase it's abilities to the United States Senator Ross Garison. After being given access to the NSA's New York City feeds for a 24 hour period, Samaritan's beta functions come online and are directed by Greer towards locating Finch. ("Death Benefit")
Four hours into it's beta test, Samaritan manages to find several dozen terrorists, although it is unsuccessful in locating Finch. Virgil suggests that they turn on the more advanced functions of Samaritan, which has a mind of its own (higher function artificial intelligence), but Greer points out that Decima doesn't have the hardware to activate them yet. At this stage, Root mentions that Samaritan can only watch and follow. Following the conclusion of the beta test, seven of Samaritan's servers are stolen by Root before they can be delivered to Decima operatives in the field. ("Beta")
After an explosion that was caused by Decima in order to frame Vigilance as the perpetrator, Senator Garrison grants Decima complete access to the government feeds, and Samaritan comes online in full. ("Deus Ex Machina")
Classification of DataEdit
Samaritan analyzes all data pertaining to every citizen and categorizes them into Targets (for elimination) and Deviants (potential threats to track), and, like the Machine, is able to generate predictions based on available data. All these aspects of the target are then displayed to the user, including identity, current location in the form of latitude and longitude, classifications, as well as Samaritan's conclusion and recommended course of action. Deviants are indicated by a red, four-dotted crosshair, whilst targets are indicated by a red, upside-down triangle.
Samaritan is seemingly programmed towards maintaining a sense of social order, as Deviants are classified to have anti-government statements as Samaritan compiles their profiles.
Once a target is identified, Samaritan scans through several types of records: medical history, media consumption, internet activity, personal relationships, and preferred mobile apps. It is also able to predict where the subject might be headed and which routes that person usually takes. ("Deus Ex Machina")
|Red upside-down triangle:|
In "Nautilus" Samaritan is shown to be recruiting resourceful human assets, with the assistance of a "game", in which the participants prove their worth unwittingly to Samaritan. In the case of Claire Mahoney, it used the game as a means of preventing competing surveillance operations from being established. It is known that the recruitment occurs every 27 days in different cities across the globe, but unknown the objective in these "games" are for Samaritan.
Samaritan and the Machine both have similar objectives and processes. Although Samaritan was initially categorized as "deactivated", the Machine itself later categorizes the status of Samaritan as "unknown" after Control expresses interest in the Samaritan drives. The Machine's parallel activities may have the potential to cause the programs to conflict. Initially Machine calculations gave a probability of over 5% and climbing that this may occur. ("Lethe")
On April 16, 2014, Samaritan in its fully operational state was powered on. It quickly started analyzing and assimilating all its data and acquiring targets it deemed a threat.
During its beta test, Samaritan only had the ability to track and follow people. The lack of the necessary hardware meant it could not do anything else.
During it's beta test Samaritan displays it has access to a range of systems to collect information: ("Death Benefit")
Executive Systems Edit
During both Samaritan's beta test and active state, it's functions are shown to be divided into several component systems:
- John Reese, Sameen Shaw, Root - tracked in order to find Harold Finch, unsuccessful ("Beta"). Later categorized as irrelevant after receiving new identities from Root. ("Deus Ex Machina")
- Grace Hendricks - Auxiliary target. Identified as relevant to finding Harold Finch, captured and traded for Finch ("Beta")
- Umarov - first deviant target identified, apprehended by NYPD ("Beta")
- Alan B. Henderson - identified as deviant, tracking ("Deus Ex Machina")
- Stephen B. Soto - Vigilance member, identified as deviant, shot by Lambert ("Deus Ex Machina")
- Jefferson - Vigilance member, identified as deviant, shot by NYPD ("Deus Ex Machina")
- Daniel Casey, Jason Greenfield, Daizo - marked as threats to elimiate ("Deus Ex Machina")
- Harold Finch - marked as threat to eliminate. Later categorized as irrelevant. ("Deus Ex Machina")
- It is implied that Samaritan is more powerful than the Machine when Root tells Finch that a computer chip hadn't yet been built to match Samaritan's speed until just recently. ("Root Path (/)") Root also implies that Samaritan's superiority to the Machine is based on the Machine's limitations due to the morality Finch gave the Machine. Leading to the machine into service of humanity by forcing it into preserving human life, while leaving Samaritan with free reign to rule over them, as slave to no one or no ideals other than its own.
- The various graphics from Samaritan's viewpoint reinforce the idea that it is more advanced and powerful than the Machine, seen in the comprehensive categorization of individuals, a more advanced pattern recognition (tracking the routes of people and traffic in Manhattan), as well as higher cognitive processing.