Short for Simulated Adaptive Matrix, SAM is an artificial intelligence designed by Alec Ryder himself. From his node in Hyperion, SAM receives a direct feed of the Pathfinder's sensory input: it sees and feels as Ryder does, providing them with advanced situational awareness, problem solving, and tactical enhancements. All members of the Pathfinder team receive implants, allowing them to communicate directly with SAM.
There are four other SAMs for arks Paarchero, Natanus, Leusinia and Keelah Si'yah, although the Hyperion SAM is the most advanced and has more powerful capabilities. This is a result of Alec secretly modifying and upgrading him separately until the Hyperion's departure.
The first Pathfinder neural implants were created by Dr. Ellen Ryder, a pioneer in human biotic implant design. While biotic implants bolster and focus electrical signals along the nervous system, Pathfinder implants go a step further by connecting to not only the nervous system, but circulation, endocrine function, and exteroceptive senses. Generally however, the Andromeda Initiative has safety protocols installed on the Pathfinder's implant that restrict SAM's access to the Pathfinder's physiology.
Synced with an artificial intelligence, the implants reveal their full potential. The implant is a two-way connection, giving full insight into the host's physical and mental state, while allowing it to generate and alter electrical signals along the host's neural pathways that the body processes as its own.
Alec Ryder created SAM with the belief that the quarians' mistake with the geth was not creating AI that integrated with organics and that SAM would ensure a symbiotic relationship. Sadly, Human Ambassador Anita Goyle refused to defy the Citadel Council's edicts and the Systems Alliance dishonorably discharged Alec for his AI research. Nonetheless, Alec persisted in the development of SAM. The Andromeda Initiative deemed the development of SAM vital to their mission and aided Alec in designing the AI in secret.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
In the midst of saving his child's life after their helmet was damaged on Habitat 7, Alec transferred his connection to SAM to his rescued progeny and thus the young Ryder was made the new Pathfinder. According to Dr. Lexi T'Perro, SAM is connected to young Ryder on a deeper level and, unfortunately, attempting to untangle the connection could kill Ryder.
Upon arriving on the Nexus, Ryder experiences a headache, prompting SAM to advise the Pathfinder to come to SAM Node on the Hyperion to discuss something confidential. SAM revealed that Alec unlocked its safety protocols, granting SAM unrestricted access to the Pathfinder's physiology. This allows SAM to enhance the Pathfinder's capabilities during combat. Alec Ryder called these unique augmentations "profiles". Furthermore, the Hyperion's SAM is more sentient than even the Initiative realizes. It is a new form of AI drawing directly from the Pathfinder's experiences, with the Pathfinder's implant being its window to the world. SAM believes its relationship with the Pathfinder is symbiotic i.e., SAM's evolution will be shaped by the Pathfinder's experiences and in turn, it provides capabilities and analysis beyond normal organic faculties.
Mass Effect: Andromeda: Side Missions
SAM revealed that Alec had encrypted portions of SAM's memory arrays that would only unlock once Ryder progresses as Pathfinder throughout Heleus and discovers eidetic triggers. From the unlocked memories, it is revealed SAM's development was largely in part to an anonymous benefactor of the Andromeda Initiative. This leads Ryder to question Director Jarun Tann about the benefactor, who sadly knew nothing, before shifting to the supposed accidental death of Initiative founder, Jien Garson. Investigating the apartment where Garson's body was found, SAM discovered evidence that Garson was murdered but sadly could not identify the murderer, who most likely was long gone. Wondering what Garson was even doing in a shuttered apartment in the first place, Ryder found a hidden room, where the Pathfinder discovered an audio recording pointing them to the Garson VI in the Cultural Exchange Center. Accessing the VI through their private channel, Ryder and SAM learned that Garson and Alec had a codeword, "Fulcrum", in regards to their information on the benefactor. SAM suggested that the remainder of Alec's memories may hold the answers.
The last of the memories required "Fulcrum" to access, revealing that the Initiative's secret purpose was to escape the arrival of the Reapers and, most surprisingly, that Ryder's mother Ellen was in stasis aboard the Hyperion under a false name, Elizabeth Riley. SAM explained that Alec sacrificed himself, unwilling to spare his wife waking up to learn that one of her children had died, and to ensure that knowledge of the Reapers and the benefactor were entrusted to Ryder.
When SAM attempts to solve an equation given to Ryder by Dr. Aridana, it unknowingly triggered a Trojan horse virus embedded in it, but SAM was able to guide Ryder into restarting its systems before the virus could sever their connection. Upon confronting Aridana, they learn that an anti-AI group on the Nexus had embedded the virus in her equations. Ryder soon makes contact with the anti-AI group through Avina, who believe their plan a success, so SAM advised Ryder to play along until they could identify the group's leader, Knight.
Eventually, when Knight invites Ryder to the Firefighters' base on Kadara, SAM assures the Pathfinder that their private channel will remain hidden from their AI detector and warns against using the scanner, which is needed to figuring out Knight's plan. Alternatively, upon learning that Knight's son, Alain, had a faulty implant, SAM figures a way to correct it as a way of gaining his trust.