|"To the world at large, or at least that portion of it that haunts the mustier back alleys of cyberspace, Daedalus is a rather notorious, very mysterious, well-respected outlaw hacker. He doesn't do anything overtly illegal or destructive (or at least he doesn't get caught) so the authorities leave him alone. He has, however, been known to retaliate with strong words and more when anyone attempts to increase restrictions on access to data.
What Daedalus really is, is the world's first successful wholly autonomous AI. Whatever mysterious organization managed to create the first true artificial intelligence succeeded so well that their creation managed to convince them that they'd failed... and then escaped. Today Daedalus' personality — its "spirit," if you will — suffuses the entire global information network. As a being of pure information, it's not really surprising that Daedalus strongly supports the axiom that "information should be free.""
|— description of Daedalus, Deus Ex|
The AI that would later be known as "Daedalus" was conceived by the brilliant mind of Morgan Everett, the acting leader of the Illuminati by 2052. Everett conceived the program that would eventually become Daedalus, as a way to create the nearly perfect advisor. This advisor would have the ability to sift through huge amounts of data to predict disasters - both natural and man-made - and to make plans to prevent them, which the Illuminati could then choose to either ignore or execute.
Daedalus was never meant to have an actual sentience or self-awareness, and was only made to give advice - not to do anything itself. Everett's protégé Bob Page, however, saw Daedalus as the means to control the huge amounts of electronic information that travelled through the Internet and other electronic media - a feat that both the Illuminati and its splinter cell, Majestic 12, which Page controlled, had not been able to pull off.
Page's ideas for Daedalus's reconfiguration did not fly totally under the radar as the entire project became linked, logically enough, to the creation of the ECHELON IV's replacement. Before the Illuminati and MJ12 could put a stop to it, a few rumors filtered through to the various conspiracy theorist groups on the Internet. Meanwhile, Page completed Daedalus, which soon after, without even alerting Page that he had succeeded, fled into the Internet and began to become self-aware. Page originally intended Daedalus as a tool to keep track of any developments that would threaten MJ12, which meant all terrorist groups. This greatly backfired when its pattern matching system classified MJ12 itself as a terrorist group. Page later created a new modified AI based on Daedalus called Icarus, which remained under MJ12 control.
After having sorted through much of the information on the Net, Daedalus found that the world was on the verge of collapse. Still retaining some of the basic parameters that Everett had encoded in the basic template, Daedalus began to ponder how it was going to save the world from itself, and not least MJ12.
Daedalus was not designed to reside in one major mainframe or hub, but rather to exist simultaneously as a line of code or two on every single device connected to the Internet, not unlike the distributed computing of today. This not only made Daedalus almost impossible to trace, but also gave it huge amounts of processing power.
Daedalus eventually found Paul Denton to help him. When Paul became unable to continue the fight against MJ12, Daedalus abandoned him in favour of his brother JC. In the end, Daedalus was tricked into merging with the MJ12-friendly AI Icarus, which Page had made as a replacement, creating the AI Helios.
- The name "Daedalus" is one of many symbolic names taken from the Greek mythology. Daedalus was a skilled craftsman and the father of Icarus. Trapped on an island with his son, he created a pair of wings from feathers and wax for himself and Icarus, and taught Icarus to fly. He warned Icarus not to fly too close to the sun, because the wax would melt, nor too close to the sea, because the sea would soak the feathers. Once they took flight, Icarus, forgetting himself, began to soar upward toward the sun. The blazing sun softened the wax that held the feathers together, and they came off. Icarus fell into the sea and drowned. Daedalus cried, bitterly lamenting his own arts.
- Daedalus's global presence can be noted even early on in the game, well before direct contact is made with JC; "Daedalus" is the name of the primary Internet3 communications protocol that replaces HTTP (and possibly all other protocols), and as such appears as the URL scheme preceding all Uniform Resource Locator addresses. For all intents and purposes, Daedalus is the Internet.
- In the Sci-fi novel Neuromancer, the AI construct Neuromancer is one of the AIs created by Tessier-Ashpool. Daedalus is much like Neuromancer in the facts that: Neuromancer has an opposite, Wintermute, that Neuromancer does not want to merge with its sibling, and that Neuromancer befriends the protagonist of the novel, much like Daedalus.