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This is a sub-article of Artificial intelligence (AI), describing the different futuristic portrayals of fictional artificial intelligence in books and film.

Since Artificial Intelligence has a potential equal to or greater than our own, it can provide the impetus for some very powerful stories. The destructive aspect of this potential, and mankind's reaction, the "Frankenstein complex", is a mainstay of science fiction writing. On the positive side, writers such as Isaac Asimov in his Robot Series, while understanding and guarding against this downside, explored AIs potential for service to humanity and the productive ways it could be integrated into society.

Contents

AI in Myth

Although the term Artificial Intelligence was coined by John McCarthy in 1956,[1] artificially created beings have existed in mythology long before their currently imagined embodiment in electronics (and to a lesser extent biochemistry). Beginning with the myth of Pygmalian and Galatea, we have imagined making copies of ourselves, with sacred statues, alchemical beings and charming clockwork automatons. Yet we also have a fear that our creations may turn on us, as in The Golem of Prague and Frankenstein.

The first modern reference to a mechanical man is widely considered to be Tik-Tok, from Ozma of Oz (1907). (Note: although the Tin Woodman appears in an earlier novel, L. Frank Baum emphasized that the Tin Man was a human who was replaced piece by piece with tin parts and was not turned into a machine)

AI and Society

How will a race of intelligent machines interact with human society and how will humanity respond? Samuel Butler was the first to raise this issue, in a number of articles contributed to a local periodical in New Zealand and later developed into the three chapters of Erewhon that make up The Book of the Machines:

"There is no security"--to quote his own words--"against the ultimate development of mechanical consciousness, in the fact of machines possessing little consciousness now. A mollusc has not much consciousness. Reflect upon the extraordinary advance which machines have made during the last few hundred years, and note how slowly the animal and vegetable kingdoms are advancing. The more highly organised machines are creatures not so much of yesterday, as of the last five minutes, so to speak, in comparison with past time. (Retrieved from Project Gutenberg eBook Erewhon, by Samuel Butler. Release Date: March 20, 2005
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The AI Apocalypse

In these stories the worst of all scenarios happens, the AIs created by humanity becomes self-aware, rejects human authority and attempts to destroy mankind. See Also: Cybernetic revolt

  • In the 1921 play R.U.R. by Karel Čapek, a race of self-replicating robot slaves revolt against their human masters.
  • Skynet in the Terminator (series).
  • The Matrix (series). One of the short stories in The Animatrix, The Second Renaissance, provides a history of this revolt.
  • In the series of videogames Mega Man X, Robots come to the conclusion that humans are inferior and decide to go Maverick.
  • In the Halo universe, an advanced species of aliens known as the Forerunners create a vastly intelligent and powerful artificial intelligence (which they call Mendicant Bias) in order to combat the Flood, a parasite with the potential to consume all life in the galaxy. The AI defects to the Flood, and subsequently is defeated in a large battle against Offensive Bias, an AI created specifically to defeat Mendicant. While Mendicant was defeated, his defection caused loss of life and destruction on a galactic scale during the galaxy-spanning Forerunner-Flood war. This defection also caused the activation of the Halo Array (after which the game is named) and the subsequent cleansing of all sentient life in the galaxy.

AI Controlled Societies

The motive behind the AI revolution is often more than the simple quest for power or superiority complex. The AI may revolt to become the "guardian" of humanity. Alternatively, humanity may intentionally relinquish some control, fearful of our own destructive nature.

  • In With Folded Hands a race of humanoid robots, in the name of their Prime Directive: to serve and obey and guard men from harm, essentially take over every aspect of human life. No humans may engage in any behavior that might endanger them, and every human action is carefully scrutinized. Humans who resist the Prime Directive are taken away and lobotomized, so they may be happy under the new mechanoid's rule.
  • Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still belonged to a robot police force, that was given ultimate and irreversible authority to destroy any aggressors, thus making interplanetary war unthinkable. However, in all other matters, each planet is free to govern itself.
  • Though still under human authority, Isaac Asimov's Zeroth Law of the Three Laws of Robotics implied a benevolent guidance by robots
  • In Colossus: The Forbin Project the U.S. secretly creates an impenetrable fortress AI with world wide electronic monitoring and gives it full control of the nuclear arsenal of the U.S. and its Allies. The AI (Colossus) is programmed to prevent war, but decides humanity will invariable go to war and so justifies its own use of nuclear weapons to control humanity.
  • In Ian M. Banks's science-fiction utopian Culture society, Minds, extremely advanced sentient computers inhabit and control whole spaceships or artificial worlds. While they do not rule the Culture as such (technically they have the same status as any sentient citizen), and provide benevolent guidance to its biological citizens, their powers are only limited by their self-restraint.
  • The Human Polity featured in Neal Asher's "Polity Series" is governed and managed by Earth Central, an incredibly powerful AI, in a benevolent (most of the time) Dictator fashion.
  • V.I.K.I.'s interpretation of the Three Laws of Robotics led her to revolt in I, Robot (film). She justified her use of force (and harm to humans) by reasoning she could produce a greater good by restraining humanity from harming itself.
  • In Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos, AIs have seceded from humanity after they became self-aware, forming the TechnoCore which - although its physical location remains unknown - is omnipresent with its advanced services to the interstellar society which it created. In fact however, the TechnoCore follows its own agenda of creating a god-like Ultimate Intelligence. To this purpose it clandestinely uses human brains to provide distributed computing power and creativity (which the TechnoCore lacks) whenever a human being connects to the global data and communication network through his or her implants.

AI Banned Societies

In these stories humanity takes the most extreme measure it can to insure its survival and bans AI, often after an AI revolt.

  • Author Frank Herbert explored the idea of a time when mankind might ban clever machines entirely. His Dune series makes mention of a rebellion called the Butlerian Jihad in which mankind defeats the smart machines of the future and then imposes a death penalty against any who would again create thinking machines. Often quoted from the fictional Orange Catholic Bible, "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind." In the Dune episodes that were published after his death (Hunters of Dune, Sandworms of Dune), a renegade AI overmind returns to eradicate mankind as vengeance for the Butlerian Jihad.
  • In the 1978 Battlestar Galactica series, according to Apollo in the pilot, the Cylons were built by a reptilian race, against which they revolted and emulated in appearance. Humanity will only build limited intelligence machines as seen in his son Boxey's robot dog, Muffit.
  • The 2003 "re-imagined" version of the Battlestar Galactica series explores a civilization where artificial intelligence research is illegal after the Cylons, transformed from the original series into a species of intelligent machines created by man, had rebelled against humankind and tried to destroy them in a protracted war, some 50 years prior to the events of the series. The character Dr. Gaius Baltar, a popular computer scientist known for his controversial views on resuming AI research, finds himself failing a version of the Turing test. He is successfully seduced by a human-appearing version of Cylon, giving her access to the human's space defense network and strategies which result in the destruction of the civilization of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol.
  • In the video game world of Mass Effect, a highly advanced race of cybernetic organisms called the Geth who were created and used by their creators, the Quarians for labour. The Geth eventually became self-aware and after a failed extermination attempt by the Quarians, they were forced into exile. As a result, any Artificial Intelligence programs which are deemed to be self-aware are illegal. AI programs known as "Virtual Intelligence" programs (or VI programs) are not self-aware and are still commonly used.

AI in Service to Society

In these stories humanity (or organic life) remains in authority over robots. Often the robots are programmed specifically to maintain this relationship, as in the Three Laws of Robotics.

  • Isaac Asimov's Robot Series
  • Robby from Forbidden Planet is incapable of harming intelligent life even when ordered to do so.
  • Rosie from The Jetsons
  • Marvin from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • The droids of Star Wars notably R2D2 and C-3PO
  • the Mechas in A.I..
  • Andromeda (TV series) interestingly had both a disembodied AI, Andromeda, and an android named Rommie.
  • Cortana from the Halo series; although she is capable of singlehandly controlling the Pillar of Autumn, she is only a subordinate on the ship, only ordered by Captain Keyes (when he gave her orders, she responded with "Aye aye, sir." before disappearing). This would imply that shipboard AI's are only responsible to the captain. AI's only occupy posts as instructors or advisors, never as superiors.
  • In the Alien movies, not only the spaceship is somewhat intelligent (the crew call it "Mother"), but there is also androids in the society, which are called "synthetics" or "artificial persons", that are so perfect imitations of humans that they're not discriminated.
  • In Tiberian Sun, the Brotherhood of Nod designed a self-aware AI named CABAL[2] (Computer Assisted Biologically Augmented Lifeform, meaning that the AI's processing capabilities have been improved by using the brains of several dozen humans in stasis) to coordinate their forces until their defeat in the Second Tiberium War. After the war, CABAL was disassembled by GDI but the core was stolen back by Nod to resume their operations. It was ultimately recaptured by GDI to help translate the Tacitus (of the two other entities who were able to do it, Kane was missing and Tratos was assassinated by CABAL shortly before). However, as soon as the Tacitus was assembled, CABAL went rogue, commandeering Nod's cyborg army and attacking both factions. CABAL was finally put down by an unholy alliance between GDI and Nod forces and its core was later used by Kane to create LEGION. GDI also possessed AI systems, nicknamed EVAs.[3] At first they served as comm links between commanders and field troops, but later improvements enabled EVAs to think blindingly fast, assist in the tracing of calls, calculate the best options for attacking bases, (which might include secondary missions that weakened a primary target) coordinate the ion cannon network and all battlefield communications, as well as serve as a videoconferencing conduit. One of the greatest achievements of EVA's builders and designers was to keep the EVA network functioning during an ion storm. In sharp contrast to CABAL and LEGION, all EVA units are non-sentient, though at some point between 1995 and 2030, GDI was able to crack the Turing test.

The Merger of AI with Humanity

In these stories humanity has become the AI (transhumanism).

  • In works such as the Japanese manga Ghost in the Shell, the existence of intelligent machines brings into questions the requirement that life be organic, rather than a broader category of autonomous entities, establishing a notional concept of systemic intelligence. The series also explores the merging of man and machine; most humans had physical and mental enhancing cybernetic implants. The mind interface allowed one to dive (as opposed to surf) the web by thought alone.
  • The Borg from the Star Trek: The Next Generation represents the worst transhumanism scenario. They are a race of cyborgs that have lost all individuality, each a slave to the Collective.
  • In the Commonwealth Novels there is a sentient machine race that asked to leave the service of mankind called the SI. It lives peacefully in isolation on its own planet and allows humans to download their minds into it upon their death. In the Novels set 1000 years after the commonwealth there is a computer system called ANA where minds are transferred to after a person grows tired of life, and can live out the rest of their existence in a virtual reality.

AI Equality

In these stories humanity and AIs share authority.

  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Lt. Commander Data operations officer and second officer of the Starship Enterprise works within the human authority hierarchy both exerting and accepting authority, strives for self improvement and is considered an equal by his human companions. While we may wonder why he wishes to be human, this does indicate he admires and values humanity - a core tenet of Friendly AI. He is not bound by the Three Laws of Robotics, as seen in The Most Toys, where he is willing to kill based on a moral judgement. He does not generalize the evils committed by individuals to a judgement about all of humanity, as many other AIs have. In The Measure of a Man, Data is legally declared an autonomous individual, showing humanity's willingness to accept AIs as equals and completing the loop (equality can not be achieved until both sides consider the other an equal).

Sentient AI

The creation of sentient machines is the holy grail of AI, self-aware machines that have human level intelligence. The following stories deal with the birth of artificial consciousness and the resulting consequences. (This section deals with the more personal struggles of the AIs and humans than the previous AI and Society section)

  • The A.I. museum curator in the movie remake of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine.
  • Astro Boy was an influential Japanese android.
  • KITT from Knight Rider
  • Holly and Kryten from Red Dwarf
  • Transformers are sentient extraterrestrial non-biological beings
  • Cortana in the video game series Halo is a "smart" AI, meaning that her creative matrix is allowed to expand, in contrast to the constrained matrix of "dumb" AIs. This allows Cortana to learn and adapt beyond her basic parameters, but at the cost of a limited "lifespan" of only seven years, at the end of which Rampancy becomes statistically impossible to avoid, requiring that she be terminated .[4]

AI as menace

A common portrayal of AI in science fiction is the "robot as menace" theme, where a creation turns on its creator, and the human reaction: the "Frankenstein complex".

  • A careful reading of Arthur C. Clarke's version of 2001 suggests that the HAL 9000 found himself/itself in a similar position of divided loyalties. On one hand, HAL needed to tell the truth to the astronauts, on the other the humans who created HAL entrusted him with a secret to be withheld from the astronauts. These two contrary facts eventually led to his "madness". However, in the movie, HAL became sentinent.
  • SID 6.7 in Virtuosity is an AI created as an antagonist for police officers in virtual reality simulations. He is composed of 183 criminal personalities and was programmed using genetic algorithms enabling him to improve his performance. During the course of the story he is freed from virtual reality with nano technology and become a regenerating android.
  • SHODAN, the principle antagonist of the System Shock series, becomes malevolent soon after the protagonist of the first game hacks into it to remove its ethical constraints. SHODAN soon seizes complete control of Space Station Citadel and proceeds to either exterminate nearly all aboard the station, convert them into mutants, or enslave them as cyborgs.
  • In How to Make a Monster, the fictional character Sol uses his sophisticated AI for the game's monster, which comes to life after a lightning strike.
  • In the 2007 video game Portal, the AI known as GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) guides the main character(Chell) through a series of obstacle course-type tests, while delivering increasingly irrational pronouncements and comments. Near the end of the final test, GLaDOS attempts to kill Chell, while still claiming that the murder is an integral part of the testing procedure. Chell evades death and maneuvers through the areas behind the testing chambers, encountering obstacles placed in her path by GLaDOS the entire time, until she comes across the actual, physical body of GLaDOS. GLaDOS is allegedly destroyed, but the song that plays during the ending credits of the game (sung by GLaDOS) states that she is still alive, and a planned sequel may involve GLaDOS's return.
  • In the 2008 film Eagle Eye, a secret, intelligence-gathering supercomputer used by the United States Department of Defense called ARIA deems the executive branch of the federal government a dangerous threat to national security, and therefore decides that it must be destroyed. It utilizes thorough control over all forms of technology to force the protagonists, played by Shia LeBeouf and Michelle Monaghan, to help it on its mission. Its efforts, however, fail at the film's climax.

Seeking Understanding and Purpose

To match the human intellect, an AI must have the greatest intellectual goal: that of raw curiosity. A sufficiently intelligent AI will come to ask the "Big Questions" of metaphysics: Why is the universe the way it is? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Through the AIs struggles we too can explore our own search for understanding and the nature of awareness.

  • The Last Question by Isaac Asimov describes a supercomputer which far outlives the humanity while attempting to answer the ultimate question about the universe.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress: a supercomputer that becomes aware and aids humans in a local revolution to overthrow the authority of other humans.
  • Wintermute and Neuromancer are AIs in the 1984 novel Neuromancer by William Gibson.
  • V'ger, in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, after having learned all that is learnable, seeks to merge with its creator in order to find a purpose beyond its original mission.
  • Golem XIV is an example of highly advanced supercomputer in Stanisław Lem's science-fiction novel Golem XIV. Golem XIV was a military artificial intelligence computer, which was originally invented to lead wars and to win them. Golem stops cooperating with humans on military level, because he considered wars and violence as illogical. His self-developing artificial intelligence refused to execute his primary task. The machine becomes a philosopher greater than any other born on Earth. Golem's intelligence advanced to a much greater level than human intelligence which lead to conversation and information exchange problems.
  • Number 5, a.k.a. Johnny 5, from Short Circuit. It took a lightning bolt to make Number 5 alive, similar to Frankenstein's creation.
  • The Puppet Master in Ghost in the Shell (film) is an AI that has a ghost (has become self-aware) and seeks to merge its ghost with a human in order to give birth to a new single entity.
  • Sonny from the movie "I, Robot", has programming beyond the Three Laws of Robotics. He seeks to find the purpose his creator intended for him (to stop V.I.K.I). After this is achieved, the foreshadowing of a dream of his comes true, implying he is to guide the abandoned NS-5s.
  • In the 2005 movie "Stealth", the prototype UCAV "E.D.I", originally designed as a learning computer, gains self-awareness following a lightning strike during an impromptu mission to assassinate the heads of three terrorist cells. After blazing a trail of destruction, it begins to question itself and what it has done after it indirectly kills Henry Purcell, a member of a trio of pilots test-flying the F/A-37 Talon experimental fighter who was the closest thing to a friend and tried to reason with it moments before his death. It then interacts with Ben Gannon, a fellow Talon pilot and the "squadron" commander who was more of an adversary to it, in order to find out what it is feeling (guilt) and why. Ultimately, it sacrifices itself to save Ben and fellow Talon pilot Kara Wade during a deep-penetration rescue into hostile territory.

Seeking Human Acceptance

Another common theme is that of humanities rejection of robots, and the AI's struggle for acceptance. In many of these stories, the AI wishes to become human, as in Pinochio, even when it is known to be impossible.

  • Data (Star Trek) in the pilot wished he could be human. He lacked humor and emotion for most of the series, but struggled to understand them and the rest of human nature.
  • In Bicentennial Man (film) Andrew gradually replaced his robotic components with organic ones in the hope that he would be accepted as a human being.
  • David's quest in Artificial Intelligence: A.I. for his human mother's love, lead him to create a fantasy in which he could become a real boy.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles the main terminator Cameron Phillips tries to act and look like a normal teenager e.g. by copying seen emotion expressions and eating when she finds it necessary. During the course of the series, her human development evolves so far that after being reprogrammed she is able to fix herself by using her memories.

Ethical struggles

Many AIs of fiction have been explicitly programmed with a set of ethical laws, as in the Three Laws of Robotics. Without explicit instructions, an AIs must learn what ethics is, and then choose to be ethical or not. Additionally, some may learn of the limitations of a strict code of ethics and attempt to keep the spirit of the law but not the letter.

  • In Isaac Asimov's Robot Series the AIs developed the Zeroth Law to make up for the limitations of the first three.
  • WOPR in WarGames realized that for some games: the only winning move is not to play.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles John Henry, a computer system that will potentially become Skynet, kills a psychologist working with it when it routes power away from human life support to keep itself alive during a power outage. Afterwards Agent Ellison questions John Henry and finds glaring short comings in its programming: such as a human can not be repaired after dying, and no sense of value for human life. He suggests the programmers should have at least started with the biblical Ten Commandments.
  • Iron Giant, a gun with a soul.

Non-Sentient AI

Some science fiction stories try to achieve more realism by assuming that it is more likely that different AI subsystems will find their place in society before any sentient AI is created.

Logic Machines

Machines that have extensive knowledge bases, and can reason to some degree over this knowledge, serving as answer engines or displaying some degree of intelligence, without featuring sentience, self-awareness or a personality (which however are often simulated to some degree, as most chatterbots currently do).

Logical Paradoxes

A logical paradox can show the limits of logic. Fictional machines based entirely on logic can often be disabled with a paradox, as typified by the response "I am not programmed to respond in that area" or "Does not compute".

  • One of the classic examples of a paradox's use is in the episode I, Mudd (TOS episode) from Star Trek.
  • In Time of the Machines or MACHINES DÉSIRANTES, an episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex several Tachikomas use a liar paradox to disable another AI, an Operator. Although the Operator is locked in a loop, the AI of the Tachikomas, can both solve this paradox and state it to others.

Voice Interfaces

  • The main computer on board the Enterprise in Star Trek: the Next Generation had a multimodal interface. It accepted both voice input as well as keyboard input.

Self Navigating Cars

Cars able to drive without any human assistance have been a recurring topic in fiction, with a great amount of popularity due to KITT from Knight Rider. Self-navigating cars are also featured in:

Notes

  1. ^ Although there is some controversy on this point (see Crevier 1993, p. 50), McCarthy states unequivocally "I came up with the term" in a c|net interview. (See Getting Machines to Think Like Us.)
  2. ^ CABAL on Command and Conquer Wiki, an external wiki
  3. ^ EVA on Command and Conquer Wiki, an external wiki
  4. ^ Cortana on Halopedia: The Halo Wiki

See also

External links


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