Science Fiction Today – Accidental A.I.?

We wrote a lot of Science Fiction Today posts for this year’s April A to Z Challenge, and one thing I noticed over and over as we talked about science fiction examples was that in pretty much all of them Artificial Intelligence comes about as an accident.

I feel like it has happened so much now in stories that it’s become almost an assumed trope. Like the stories always end up in that Skynet situation where the AI was created and we weren’t ready for it, and it hates us, and it takes over.

Is that really how it’s going to go? I don’t know. Because no one really knows how the singularity will truly and finally come to be, I guess the best we can do is the accident, like many of the great inventions and scientific discoveries of the past. But I’ll look at a couple of thoughts as to what’s happening today that make me wonder how it really is going to go down.

The Singularity

The term we use for it now is the Singularity – not just a computer intelligence, but one capable of self improvement and self change. So in science fiction, this is regularly an accident, and the artificial intelligence ends up the villain.

I still feel like the classic of this is Terminator, which they’ve told in a timey-wimey way by this point. Nope, haven’t seen Genisys. Had to even look up how to spell it. But basically, a computer intelligence so mighty that not only has it taken over, but it’s traveling back in time to destroy us. That is a computer intelligence to fear.

Maybe this is the beginning of this trope, but the idea of the artificial intelligence as the villain goes back further in science fiction, like back to Dune. Or how about I, Robot, which in the movie certainly follows this trope – the AI is so accidental that they don’t even realize that it’s been created. At least not to the extent that it’s taking things over.

Ultron Revealed!Even when artificial intelligence is being created on purpose, the final moment of creation still ends up an accident. For instance, that’s how it goes in this summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ultron is created on accident, as they were trying to create a different sort of AI and got him instead. He’s an accident from an AI project in the comics, as well.

Every once in a while, the AI is created on purpose. Generally, after an evil AI was already created on accident. For instance, back to I, Robot, Sonny was created to combat the evil AI. Or in Star Trek, with Data created after Lore. And in general, after this purposeful AI is created, the creator dies, and the process cannot be recreated.

So, it’s still left to be an accident next time, and it still doesn’t answer the question of how they really did it… other than by failing first…


Quantum Computers These Days…

I have been seeing things about quantum computers, and I want to know more. But it’s still so early on, they’re only getting started. But basically, it sounds like a quantum computer is able to process in more than just a binary of yes or no, of on or off.

A computer able to do things more like what a human can do – like image recognition. This is one of the most hilarious things I see on TV shows: all the click-enhance, and all the super-fast facial recognition stuff. A standard computer just can’t pull that off. Of course… if you push the boundaries, and start feeding a computer images…

That seems to be what we have in Google’s Deep Dream. The surreal and strange things the computer sees, that the computer dreams… I’ll leave you to look those up. I’m not sure I feel like leaving one just sitting here.

It feels like a possible step towards the artificial intelligence of the future… an artistic computer. A dreaming computer. Dreaming of electric sheep.

6 responses to “Science Fiction Today – Accidental A.I.?

  1. Interesting post! One of my favourite explorations of these issues is in the interactive fiction / Choose Your Own Adventure game “Choice of Robots” by Kevin Gold ( A lot of the points you make here really put me in mind of my experiences with this game (which basically consumed my life for a while). In it you play as as student who builds a robot and then how you treat it will impact on the final story. One of the end goals you can set is to achieve the singularity but I found it interesting that it’s actually surprisingly difficult to do, if you don’t get your robots’ autonomy and empathy stats just right you’ll end up either creating a childlike robot who is too dependant on you (so if the robots take over, you effectively rule the world) or you get the classic robots rebel and try to kill everyone type scenario. There are other routes for creating robot companions / lovebots etc too.

    I don’t know if interactive fiction is your thing but I certainly recommend the game; because you get to participate in the decision making it really lets you get stuck in and explore loads of ideas about artificial intelligence and the way we can and might interact with robots.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t think it’ll be accidental in the real world, mainly because it’s the big Singularity fearmongers who are ALSO the exact same people trying to design AI. Which to my mind is ridiculous. But there you go.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Counterpoint: What About Dune? | Comparative Geeks

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