Overwatch unveiled its new hero today, Echo, who is described as an “evolutionary robot programmed with a rapidly adapting artificial intelligence.” There doesn’t seem to be any relation to Amazon’s Echo product line, which comes equipped with its own artificially intelligent helper, Alexa.
Echo “represents the cutting edge of technology,” according to a tweet from the game’s account. She was created by Dr. Mina Liao, who helped build the omnics — artificially intelligent robots in Overwatch — and was forced to watch as many of her robots took part in a global war. To try to ease her guilt, Dr. Liao joined Overwatch and designed Echo.
A video unveiling the character finds Dr. Liao grappling with moral and ethical questions about her new robot’s existence in the world. Did she make the world a better place by building it? Will the new robot, Echo, become her legacy after everything is said and done?
“She created me: her promise, her legacy, her Echo,” the robot says toward the end of the video.
The themes present in the video are familiar to anyone who’s kept an eye on Silicon Valley in recent years as questions about ethics regarding artificial intelligence development come into play. Or, really, to anyone who’s watched any kind of science fiction. Clearly, Echo is designed with a benevolent ideology in mind.
Echo had previously been teased in various Overwatch short films released by Blizzard. The new hero will be available soon in Overwatch and has already been confirmed to be playable in Overwatch 2, whenever the sequel arrives (there’s still not release date). Blizzard will presumably demonstrate Echo’s powers and abilities in a video soon.