The Science (and Madness) of Edmund Rockwell: An AI’s Perspective

Edmund Rockwell

2022 was the year of AI. Services came out of nowhere leaving people either shocked or excited behind. AI can do a lot. It can also not do certain things, and it’s not always clear if and when the AI is wrong because it just knows so much and sounds so confident even when it’s not correct. I love using things like ChatGPT to bounce off ideas. In programming it’s called rubber ducking, since programmers love to talk to small rubber ducks about ideas which then causes them to have more and better ideas. The whole concept of learning while you’re teaching. Yesterday I talked to the AI about ARK Lore. I did ask it beforehand if it has information about the ARK lore. It said yes, but I could easily tell that the information it had was really basic. But that’s not a problem because you can provide additional information to the AI to work with. So I did feed it some Explorer Note texts to discuss them. We talked about Sir Edmund Rockwell. The Antagonist of ARK Survival Evolved.


First, what is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a large language model developed by OpenAI. It’s been trained on a dataset of internet text, which allows it to generate text that mimics human language. This can be useful for a variety of natural language processing tasks such as text generation, language translation, and answering questions. OpenAI is a research organization that focuses on the development and advancement of Artificial Intelligence.


Let’s jump into the Lore Nerd Talk

I first asked ChatGPT how familiar it is with the ARK Lore. The understanding was basic, and it quoted basically the game description. It’s a base to build upon. So I asked it who Rockwell is. It had somewhat basic knowledge about Rockwell but turned him into a creature instead of a character. It got this right tho. 

  • In the lore of the game ARK: Survival Evolved, Rockwell is one of the main antagonists of the game.

Next I asked ChatGPT about Rockwells full name. 

  • In the lore of ARK: Survival Evolved, Rockwell’s full name is not mentioned. The character is only referred to as “Rockwell”.

We all know that’s not quite correct, but it could very well be that this was not the part of the training data. Luckily we can give ChatGPT additional information. So I told the AI: “It’s Sir Edmund Rockwell”. The AI apologized and corrected the answer. 

  • I apologize, I was not aware of the Sir Edmund Rockwell. My previous information was not complete, thank you for bringing this to my attention. In the lore of ARK: Survival Evolved, Sir Edmund Rockwell is one of the main antagonists of the game.

Going forward in baby steps in the beginning. Next I asked AI about Helena Walker. 

  • In the lore of ARK: Survival Evolved, Helena Walker is a character who is a prominent figure in the game’s story. Helena is the primary protagonist of ARK: Survival Evolved’s storyline. She is the leader of the survivors of the original ARK, and is the one who discovered the original ARK and the technology within. Helena is described as a brilliant and resourceful scientist and explorer, who is instrumental in uncovering the secrets of the ARKs and the purpose of the mysterious “Tek” artifacts. She appears in various cutscenes and holo-recordings throughout the game and her story and backstory is a key part of the ARK’s lore and story.

Somewhat correct and that even on the first try. There must be more data about Helena fed into the training data than Rockwell. Next I ask ChatGPT what it knows about the relationship between Rockwell and Helena. 

  • In the lore of ARK: Survival Evolved, Helena Walker and Sir Edmund Rockwell have a complex relationship. It is revealed that Helena and Sir Edmund were once colleagues. However, their relationship seems to have become strained over time, as Sir Edmund became increasingly obsessed with achieving god-like power and Helena disagreed with his methods. Helena Walker is horrified by what he has done, as well as the fact that Sir Edmund became the very thing that he had warned her of all those years ago. Helena wants to stop him by any means possible, even going as far as to form an alliance with other survivors in order to put a stop to his twisted plans.

Also, somewhat correct. I was honestly surprised that the AI knew more about the relationship of these two than about Rockwell himself. My next question to the AI was, what could have been done to save Rockwell from his insanity. We all know if that had happened we wouldn’t have needed any other DLC. So it’s great storytelling. But was there a chance? 

  • It is not specified in the lore of ARK: Survival Evolved what could have saved Sir Edmund Rockwell, as his story and character portray him as a power-hungry and twisted individual who has lost sight of morality and humanity. He becomes obsessed with his experiments and his desire to achieve god-like power, at the expense of the lives of others. He is the main antagonist of the story arc, where he did experiments on the inhabitants. It is possible that Rockwell could have been saved if he had been stopped early on in his experiments, or if he had been given help in terms of mental health and support. Perhaps if he was surrounded by people who could guide him and help him realize the consequences of his actions, it could have changed his actions. But given the story in the game, it’s not really specified if there was a chance for redemption for him.

The answer is a clear “Maybe.” His downfall is complicated at best. But talking about mental health. Could AI give Rockwell a diagnosis? It is important to say that these kind of answers will always trigger big warning messages in the AI that you can’t diagnose this way and seek professional help. Nonetheless, it did think about possibilities: 

  • Narcissistic personality disorder: characterized by grandiosity, a lack of empathy for others, and a strong sense of entitlement.
  • Antisocial personality disorder: characterized by a pattern of disregard for the rights of others and a lack of empathy.
  • Narcissistic sociopathy: This is a term that sometimes used to describe people with traits of both narcissistic personality disorder and sociopathy, characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, lack of empathy for others, and a willingness to manipulate and exploit others to achieve their goals.

Heavy stuff, but the explanation is fitting for his behavior in later stages. While I think these are reasonable descriptions, I am not sure if these fit since we saw Rockwells downfall. All of the above usually don’t just appear in older age but are present long before. So either he was good at hiding it or something else was going on. That was a thought I had, and so I asked the AI if the addiction to Element could have played into his change in character and behavior. 

  • In the lore of ARK: Survival Evolved, Sir Edmund Rockwell is portrayed as being addicted to an element called “Element.” Element is a rare and powerful resource that can be found on the ARKs and is used to power various advanced technologies. It is mentioned that Sir Edmund Rockwell’s addiction to Element is what fuels his desire to achieve god-like power and his willingness to conduct twisted experiments.It’s possible that the addiction to Element could be seen as a contributing factor to his descent into madness and his disregard for the lives of others. The addiction to the Element and the power that it gives him could have amplified his sense of grandiosity and entitlement, making it even harder for him to empathize with the victims of his experiments, and making it easier for him to justify his actions.

Another clear “Maybe”. So addiction could have broke Rockwell. But what about his age and heritage. He is from the past thrown together with people from his future. Are these factors? 

  • It’s possible that age could be a factor in Sir Edmund Rockwell’s sense of entitlement in the lore of ARK: Survival Evolved, although it is not specified in the game’s story. It could be assumed that as an older individual, Sir Edmund Rockwell may have had more time to accumulate wealth, status, and power, which could have contributed to his sense of entitlement. Furthermore, as a 19th century scientist and explorer, he could have been raised with a certain level of social status and privilege, in a time where the idea of “manifest destiny” and the belief that certain groups were superior to others was prevalent. This could have further reinforced his sense of entitlement and his belief that he is above the rules and above the consequences of his actions.

I never heard about the Manifest Destiny so I asked the AI about it. 

  • Manifest Destiny is a term that was used in the 19th century in the United States to describe the belief that it was the country’s God-given right and duty to expand westward and settle the lands beyond the Mississippi River. This belief was based on a combination of economic, political, and religious motives. It was based on the idea that white Anglo-Saxon Protestant Americans were superior to the indigenous peoples already living in the West and were bringing civilization and Christianity to them. This expansionist ideology was used to justify the forced removal of Native American tribes from their ancestral lands, the annexation of large parts of Mexico and Canada, and the exploitation of resources and labor of the new territories. It’s an important historical concept to understand but it is a controversial one, as it was used to justify many actions that had disastrous effects on native peoples and it is not a view accepted in today’s world.

Okay we know Rockwell was English and not American. So did England have something similar? 

  • The concept of manifest destiny was primarily associated with the United States in the 19th century, although similar ideas of national destiny and expansion were present in other countries, including Great Britain. In the case of Great Britain, the idea of imperial destiny, and the belief in the civilizing mission of the British Empire, was a significant motivator for the expansion of the empire. This could include the colonization of Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas, and the spread of the British culture, language, and governance, with the belief that the British way of life was superior to that of the colonized peoples.
  • In the case of Sir Edmund Rockwell, it is not specified in the lore of ARK: Survival Evolved if he was motivated by imperial or colonial ambition, or if his sense of entitlement is rooted in any specific ideology.

While this is another maybe, it gives us a lot of insight into the world views Rockwell grew up and lived in and how this might have shaped his character and actions. On the Island Rockwell clearly saw himself as above most people. He respected only a few. Could this be connected to his cultural past? 

  • It is possible that Sir Edmund Rockwell’s belief in his own superiority and his disregard for the lives of others in the lore of ARK: Survival Evolved could be explained in part by the historical context of manifest destiny and imperial ambition. The belief that one’s own culture, race, or nation is superior to others has been used to justify many atrocities throughout history. It could be that Sir Edmund Rockwell, as a 19th-century Englishman, held views that were common at the time, and that his belief in his own superiority led him to see others as lesser and justify his human experiments. He may have believed that his work and experiments were for the greater good and the advancement of humanity even if it required the sacrifice of others.

That sounds like the Rockwell we know, doesn’t it? So if that is all the case. How much can we really blame Rockwell for his actions if after all he was just a child of his time and living the 19th century British Zeitgeist? Traveling through time and meeting people from the future might be hard on him. 

  • It’s certainly possible that an individual, such as Sir Edmund Rockwell in the lore of ARK: Survival Evolved, could be influenced by the beliefs and values of their time and place. People’s actions and beliefs are shaped by the culture and society in which they live, and it would be difficult for someone to completely reject the values of their time and place.
  • However, it’s important to remember that individuals also have agency, and that it is possible for someone to question and reject the values of their society, especially if they are presented with new information and perspectives that conflict with their previously held beliefs. This is not an easy task, as it often means going against the norms and facing social ostracism or even persecution.
  • In the case of time-travel, it’s a fictional concept, and it’s hard to say what might happen in such a scenario, but the story of ARK: Survival Evolved, Sir Edmund Rockwell is not a time-traveler, and his story is set in the 19th century. In the game, he’s a man of science who, at some point, let his ambition and addiction to the Element overtook him and, as a result, he became a villain. However, just because a person is “a child of their time” does not excuse the immoral or illegal actions they take. They are still responsible for their own actions.

While I am very impressed that the AI didnt fluff things up and noted that despite your heritage you are responsible for your actions and for changing your worldviews I disagreed on the time travel factor. So I corrected it explaining that the people on the ARK came from complete different timelines, and it could be seen as time travel by accident. 

  • In the lore of ARK: Survival Evolved, it’s true that the survivors, including Sir Edmund Rockwell, Helena Walker and Mei Ying, were brought to the ARKs from different time periods. This means that Sir Edmund Rockwell would have experienced a significant cultural shock upon arriving in the present day, and it could have played a role in his actions and beliefs. It would be a challenging situation for anyone to deal with, being transported to a completely different time period with different values, technology and cultural mores.It’s possible that the contrast between his 19th-century beliefs and the more modern values of Helena Walker and the other survivors could have caused him to re-evaluate his views. However, it’s also possible that he could have clung to his old beliefs and found it difficult to adapt to the new environment, especially if he found the new society’s values and beliefs to be in conflict with his own.

This is honestly spot on. While he respected Helena as a like minded spirit for her scientific knowledge and interest, he still clings to his moral code and even expands and justifies horrid things as important for his progress. Next I wondered how the English opinion of the Roman Empire was shaped in the 19th century, considering he had some respect for Nerva on The Island. 

  • During the 19th century in England, the Roman Empire was generally seen as a source of inspiration and admiration. The Romans were considered to be the embodiment of civilization, order, and power. The Roman Empire was studied in schools and universities, and the study of Classics was considered to be an essential aspect of a proper education. This led to a great interest in Roman history, culture, and art.The Roman Empire was often seen as the model for a strong and orderly society. The Romans were admired for their military prowess, legal system, engineering, and architectural achievements. They were also seen as an important source of literary, artistic and architectural influences. The influence of Roman culture was seen in the art and architecture of the time and it was a popular subject for painters, sculptors and architects. Many of the Grand Public buildings and monuments in London and other cities were built in the neo-classical style, with inspiration drawn from ancient Roman architecture.Additionally, the English of the time also perceived the Roman Empire as a great civilization, whose culture and heritage had heavily influenced the western world. This is why ancient Rome and its myths, legends, literature and philosophy were studied, imitated, and celebrated by many British intellectuals, and was an important source of inspiration for the poets, authors, philosophers, scholars, and historians of the time.

Interestingly enough despite this view Rockwell mentions: “Well, I found the report on Mister Nerva to be rather exaggerated, and as an Englishman one might imagine that I’d view Roman leadership with some disdain. Yet in my experience, I found Mister Nerva to be both honest and intellectually engaging.”

Here it now would be interesting if AI was wrong on how the Roman Empire was seen in the time or if we have some Lore inconsistency. I then fed the AI a few more explorer notes to ask it further about the relationship between Helena and him. 

  • Yes, in the lore of ARK: Survival Evolved, Helena Walker is a paleontologist and researcher. She is one of the survivors stranded on the island, who is dedicated to studying the animals of the arks. From what you’ve shared, it’s seems that Helena Walker is a determined character, with a strong will to stop Rockwell and his unethical actions, despite having a past of being friends and working with him. It’s also clear that she values her work and research and that she is deeply invested in it.
  • Her strong will to stop Rockwell might be driven by her sense of morality and ethics, and her dedication to the preservation of life. Her deep sadness about losing him as a friend despite his actions can be understood as the complexity of human relationships and the difficulty in balancing our personal feelings and interests with our sense of right and wrong.

I think the struggle of losing a friend and saving people is an inner conflict Helena carries in herself. But it also shows how strong she is fighting for the right thing while it might feel wrong at first. It would be interesting to know which are the main points those two would have a conflict when considering which backgrounds both have. 

  • There would likely be significant differences in the views of Helena Walker, as a woman from the 21st century from Australia, and Sir Edmund Rockwell, as a 19th-century Englishman, in the lore of ARK: Survival Evolved. These differences would likely stem from a variety of factors, including the historical and cultural contexts in which they were raised, their backgrounds, and their personal experiences.From the information you’ve provided, Helena Walker is likely to hold more progressive and inclusive views on issues such as gender and race equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and environmentalism. She would be more likely to be sensitive and respectful of diverse cultures and perspectives, and would be more conscious of the impact of her actions and research on the natural world.On the other hand, Sir Edmund Rockwell is from the 19th century, a period in history where many of the ideas we consider progressive today were not yet established. He would have grown up in a world where colonialism and imperialism were the norm, and where certain races, ethnicities and genders were considered inferior. He would have been raised in a society that embraced strict social hierarchies and would likely hold traditional views on many issues.The worldviews of these two characters would likely clash most on issues of ethics, social values, and respect for diversity and inclusivity. Helena would likely see Rockwell’s actions as unethical, inhumane and disrespectful of life, while Rockwell would see himself as advancing the knowledge and possibly see his actions as necessary for the greater good.

Helena was described spot on and I think her being so open minded didn’t let most of the cultural clashes happen. – Well until he turned to madness. You can only be so open and accepting, right? One thing I was interested in was how Rockwells actions would have been seen in the 19th century in England. Was he extreme even for his time or only from our view? 

  • It’s difficult to say for certain how Sir Edmund Rockwell’s actions would have been perceived in 19th century England without more specific information about the context and nature of his actions.That being said, the 19th century was a time of great change and upheaval in the Western world, and many of the social and scientific beliefs of the time would be considered outdated and unethical by today’s standards. The Victorian era in England was a time of great scientific and technological advancements, and also a time where many people, particularly those from the upper classes, held views on race, ethnicity, and gender, that would be considered racist, sexist, and discriminatory by today’s standards.During the Victorian era, the belief in the superiority of the British Empire was pervasive, and this belief was often used to justify the exploitation and colonization of other countries and cultures. It is possible that Rockwell’s actions could have been seen as the way of expanding the knowledge and the empire, and be justified by the idea of manifest destiny or scientific curiosity.However, Rockwell’s actions in the game’s lore are not clearly specified, and as you mentioned, he conducts human experiments which would be considered unethical and illegal even by the standards of the time and would be deeply shocking to the public.

Okay he would have been the bad guy back then as well. Maybe not quite as bad as we see him but still bad. Which gives him only little room to justify whatever he is doing. But how was the view of experiments with humans in England in the 19th century? 

  • Human experimentation did occur during the 19th century in England, although it was not as systematic or institutionalized as it was in other parts of Europe or in the United States. Most of the human experiments that occurred in England during this time were conducted by individual doctors or scientists, who were often working independently or in small groups.The scientific advances and medical breakthroughs of the 19th century led to a greater understanding of human physiology, anatomy, and physiology. However, many of the methods used at the time would be considered unethical by today’s standards. The development of new surgical techniques and the use of anesthesia allowed for more invasive procedures to be performed, and these procedures were often tested on prisoners, the poor, and people with mental illnesses, without proper ethical guidelines or consent.Also, with the beginning of the industrial revolution, there was a growing interest in the study of the human body and mind, and a growing market for human corpses for dissection and study in medical schools. Many of these bodies were obtained from grave robbing, which was a punishable offense but still widely practiced.

That does sound like early Rockwell tho. 

I explained to the AI how he started with animal experiments first an got less and less hesitant to use humans as well. 

  • It is not uncommon in historical or fictional scenarios, for characters like Rockwell to start with what they see as a noble goal, such as finding a cure for an illness or saving lives, but as they become more invested in their work and see progress, they start to justify unethical actions in order to achieve their goals. This type of moral deterioration can happen when they begin to see the subjects of their experiments as less than human, and lose sight of their original goal.

Yes that is most likely the case here. 

I explained to the AI that in the final Scene Rockwell turns back to his self telling her that he is afraid and HLNA answered “She knew” and how it would interpret that. 

  • One interpretation could be that this dialogue is meant to show that despite everything Rockwell has done and the harm he caused, Helena still has a sense of empathy and understanding towards him.The statement “I am afraid” could be interpreted as Rockwell’s realization of the gravity of his actions and the impending doom of his death, where as “She knew” by HLNA could be interpreted as her acknowledging his fear and that she understands it. She may be showing him that even in his final moments, she still cares about him, or possibly expressing a sense of closure for her own emotions.Another interpretation could be that this dialogue is meant to show that Rockwell’s fear of death is a reminder that ultimately, we are all human and have shared experiences and emotions. Despite his actions and the harm he caused, in his final moments, he is still capable of feeling fear, regret and understanding his own mortality.

I was surprised about this deep but on point interpretation. In the end I asked the AI for a characterization of Rockwell based on our conversation and the information I provided. 

  • Sir Edmund Rockwell is a fictional character in the game ARK: Survival Evolved and its DLCs, Genesis and Genesis 2. While his persona is created by the game’s developer and not based on real-life historical figures, the character’s background and motivations have been crafted in a way that could be interpreted in light of the 19th century context and specifically the Victorian era.
  • As the game’s story presents, Rockwell is a brilliant and ambitious scientist, who was stranded on the ARK along with other survivors from different eras. He is a man of high intelligence, wealth, and status and is highly respected by the other survivors due to his knowledge and skills.
  • However, as the story progresses, Rockwell’s character takes a dark turn as his obsession with his own research and the desire for power and control consume him. He becomes increasingly unethical in his methods, ultimately using human subjects for his experiments, including prisoners.
  • In the context of the Victorian era, Rockwell’s character could be interpreted as a representation of the negative aspects of the era’s scientific and social beliefs. The era was marked by a strong emphasis on moral and physical perfection, and ideals of beauty were heavily influenced by contemporary artistic, literary and scientific movements. Rockwell’s actions could be seen as a representation of the darker side of the era’s ideas of beauty and perfection, where the desire for perfection and progress was taken too far and caused harm to others.
  • Additionally, Rockwell’s character could also be interpreted as an example of a person who starts with noble intentions but is consumed by his own ambition and loses sight of his original goals. His actions could be seen as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked ambition and the importance of ethics and morals in scientific research.
  • In the end, Sir Edmund Rockwell is a complex character whose actions, motivations and beliefs were shaped by both his own personal characteristics and the cultural background of the era in which he is supposed to have lived. He is a reminder that even the most brilliant and ambitious people are capable of committing terrible actions if they lose sight of what truly matters.

I then asked the AI, which other stories from the 19th century Rockwells story has overlaps. 

  • In the game’s story, Rockwell becomes obsessed with his research and the desire for power and control, which leads him to turn to experimenting with a mysterious substance called Element. His addiction to Element grows to the point where he starts using it on himself, which leads to a physical and mental transformation, similar to that of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story.
  • In the classic story, Dr. Jekyll, a respected scientist, creates a potion that allows him to release his inner evil desires, and as he becomes more consumed by the potion, he transforms into the monstrous Mr. Hyde. The story highlights the concept of duality, the idea that every human being has a good and an evil side, and the dangers of repressed desires and unchecked ambition.
  • Similarly, Rockwell’s use of Element on himself leads to a physical and mental transformation where he becomes more aggressive, paranoid, and power-hungry, losing sight of his original goals and ethics. The story of Rockwell could be interpreted as an updated version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, where the potion has been replaced by a mysterious substance, but the message remains the same: the dangers of repressed desires and unchecked ambition, and how one’s own obsessions can have negative consequences, not just for oneself but also for others around them.
  • It is possible that the game’s developer intended to draw these parallels, as they are both well known stories with similar themes, and by making the comparison, it could help to convey the message they wanted to convey. Additionally, the developer might have been inspired by the story and wanted to create a character that would be a modern interpretation of the story.

I then asked for other stories with similarities: 

  • One example is the novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, published in 1818. The novel tells the story of a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who creates a creature in his own image, but ultimately rejects and abandons it. The creature, in turn, seeks revenge on its creator, and the story explores themes of ambition, science, and the consequences of playing god.
  • Another example is the novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde, published in 1890, which explores similar themes of vanity, corruption, and the dangers of obsession with beauty and youth.
  • Additionally, there are also many other classic literature works from the 19th century that have explored similar themes such as “The Island of Dr. Moreau” by H.G. Wells, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and many others. These stories, as well as many others, all explore similar themes of duality, repressed desires, and the dangers of unchecked ambition, and they all can be considered as an inspiration for the developer of the game to create Rockwell’s character and the story.

Jeremy, you like the classics?  That was the wrapped up conversation I had with the AI. In the end, thanks AI for giving me some process power for nerding about the ARK lore. 

  • You’re welcome! I’m glad I could help. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

In the End:

Nothing what AI has provided as information has to be factual correct. I am neither an expert of the 19th century or Victorian Era in England. Even tho the things described do fit which how I perceived Edmund Rockwell in the game. The AI was pretty good at coming to conclusions from the actions  of the fictional character when being provided with Explorer Notes. It was fun to nerd out with a bot about the ARK lore without being seen as weird. And while ChatGPT can’t replace NeddyTheNoodle with his amazing lore videos, it can at least help bouncing off a conversation.