System Shock Wiki
System Shock Wiki
Janice Polito
Janice Polito (portrait).png
Vital Statistics
Gender Female
Race Human
Faction TriOptimum Corporation
Status Deceased
Location Von Braun:
Engineering Deck (former)
Operations Deck
Game(s) System Shock 2
Voice Actor Esra Gaffin

Dr. Janice Polito was the head scientist and computer engineer working aboard the starship Von Braun as the Senior Systems Analyst. Her office is on the Operations Deck. She is a close friend of Dr. Marie Delacroix.


Early Career

Progress happens. Inertia takes the day. But if progress will happen, it should occur responsibly with forethought and with humility. Yes, I am building something that is smarter than all of us. We are the rabbit who chooses to build the fox. If I didn't believe that, I would have finished the XERXES prototype six years ago. Development time on this prototype was one third AI routines and two thirds restraint and containment protocols. If and only if I and my colleagues are convinced that XERXES is secure would I ever consider authorization of actual production models.
~ Janice Polito

She had written a number of famous papers on Artificial Intelligence, most of them in the clenched teeth, hand wringing style so popular in the Neo-Luddite community. Her book, Emergent AIs and Ethical Constraints was the premier philosophical work on AIs in the post-SHODAN era.

In an apparent self-contradiction, she has created XERXES. She estimated the prototype 453/RT4b3 should had been ready by 2107 but most of the development time was dedicated to perfect restraint and containment protocols; only the one third of the development was actual AI routines. Her team planned to reveal the project for authorization and production only when and if they were convinced that XERXES is secure.

Polito expressed her concerns to Marie Delacroix about the creation of Sarah, the A.I. that would operate Faster-Than-Light travel. She was among the scientists at the UNN senate subcommittee about the authorization of the FTL project. Polito presented a negative stance in the talks, explaining that Sarah would crack open the galaxy and eliminate mystery from the universe. She held reservations about what she would do, since she would use the forbidden form of computing power that gave SHODAN. While conventional "safe" A.I. could never make the kind of leaps necessary on this schedule, that creates a paradoxical dilemma: to build the kind of technology we really don't understand, we must harness technology that we don't trust.

Chairman Cal McGill (who was secretly working in favor to TriOp's interests) eliminated Polito's arguments by revealing the existence of XERXES. Frustrated, Polito left the room, and later she would be criticized for hypocrisy; constructing the very kind of technology she condemned.

Voyage of the Von Braun

Dr. Polito's primary responsibility was monitoring XERXES to prevent a computer artificial intelligence from going rogue, as SHODAN did. She was also responsible for anything related to the cryo suite, chemical storage, and computer technical support.

During Infection on Von Braun

Marie... I'm sorry I've been out of touch, but I've been working on that artifact Bayliss brought back from Tau Ceti 5. I've done a level 3 analysis on it... I think it's some kind of Artificial Intelligence.
~ Janice Polito

After arriving at Tau Ceti V, Bayliss, the liaison officer for TriOptimum and the UNN, brought back a computer wafer for Polito to examine. At first she thought it was an alien hardware, but noticed the A.I. was speaking "English".

When the Many began to spread throughout the ship, the A.I. integrated into the ship's computer and Polito's room was also ransacked. It is unknown who is responsible for breaking into her office, though it is likely a crew member already under the influence of the Hive Mind.


The genie of Citadel Station is out of the bottle, and I am the cause. I can't bear to be Pandora. And I'm not brave enough to wait around and see the death and misery I have caused...
~ Janice Polito

Janice Polito's corpse.

Polito began her own investigation and started looking into the files of Citadel Station and found the origin of the wafer. By this time, it was obvious that SHODAN had already integrated herself within the ship's computer and Polito could only watch in horror, in which on July 10th, leading her ultimately to commit suicide in her office rather then see the outcome and the suffering.

Soon, SHODAN began using Polito's identity to begin its plan to gain control of the Von Braun. Grassi received an E-Mail from Polito/SHODAN ordering him to move soldier G65434-2 into the surgical cryo in order to be fitted with the illegal R-graded military implants. Bayliss also received an E-Mail purportedly from Polito ordering him to delete some of the memory restoration files in the cryo suite. Both Grassi and Bayliss were suspicious as to what was going on, but continued to follow her orders.

SHODAN would continue to use Polito's identity to help soldier throughout the Many's infestation in order to gain his trust until his discovery of Polito's body, which prompted SHODAN to finally reveal herself soon afterward.

Audio Logs and E-Mails

Audio Logs

MedSci Deck
Hydroponics Deck
UNN Rickenbacker


MedSci Deck
Engineering Deck
Hydroponics Deck
Recreation Deck


  • In her Audio Logs and E-Mails, she is depicted with a red Engineering uniform. However, when she is found in her office, her character model is the generic female Ops skin, which wears a purple suit.
  • A hint of SHODAN masquerading as Polito can be identified earlier in the game before her reveal at the Ops deck. When SHODAN (as Polito) communicates with soldier, an electronic distortion can be heard in the background, reminiscent of SHODAN's default speech pattern. This is especially noticeable in one E-Mail in particular, heard halfway through the Sector A of the Hydroponics Deck. Also, in the aforementioned E-Mail and others, she is impatient with and rude to soldier, whereas in the Audio Logs, Polito's voice is soft and empathetic.