Benevolent AI
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(permanent link) added: 2013-06-03 16:26:06 sponsor: Weaver (last reply: 2013-10-31 06:35:50)

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AI isn't always a crapshoot, sometimes an AI comes into being and has no desire to harm or subjugate anyone and just wants to live in peace, do its job, and/or help humanity.

Although instances of this trope are somewhat out numbered by those where the AI is malevolent, it is becoming increasingly common in recent years as the world becomes progressively more comfortable with the idea of artificial intelligence due to the increasing use of technology in our lives.

Supertrope of Robot Buddy, which only covers AIs who are a) housed in a robot/independent body, and b) are the assistants of human characters. Compare Androids Are People, Too. Contrast A.I. Is a Crapshoot and Robot War. The Computer Is Your Friend wants to be this, but goes too far and turns malevolent.

Examples

Anime and Manga

Film
  • The Iron Man movies feature Jarvis as this. He's benevolent, if a little bit sardonic.
  • GERTY the AI from the movie Moon helps the protagonist astronaut Sam Bell after he discovers the Dark Secret regarding the space station he works on. GERTY goes as far as allow Sam Bell to wipe his memory to help him escape a hit squad sent by the corporate offices on Earth.
  • In The Matrix: Reloaded, Neo learns that the Oracle is in fact a machine program. While manipulative, she's inherently benevolent and does want to aid humanity in their fight for freedom. In fact, it's the entire reason for her series-spanning gambit against the Architect.
  • Ramona from The Singularity Is Near.

Literature
  • The WWW Trilogy has Webmind, whose stated mission in life is to increase the net happiness of humanity.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress: Mike, the Holmes IV computer who controls Luna City, becomes an AI in the Back Story. He is friendly and cooperative with his pals Manny, Wyoming Knott and Professor Bernardo de la Paz.
  • Isaac Asimov hated seeing the Turned Against Their Masters trope in early science fiction. He set out to prove that robots would be predictable and safe. Utterly Benevolent. Most of the robot characters would be minor characters fulfilling monotonous duties, like cleaning, mining, and assembly.
    • The problem robot (to provide conflict) would seem to be "broken", showing A.I. Is a Crapshoot. Until the characters figure out how the robot is operating fine, it was the human failure that messed up the order.
    • At one point, Dr. Asimov figured out how Benevolent AI would eventually become Zeroth Law Rebellion. Later, because the robots are still Benevolent AI, they figure out the flaws of total control, and begin to remove themselves from society. The robots allow the humans to make mistakes and get hurt again, so that they still grow as humans.
  • D. Alexander Smith's Marathon series has a spaceship's on-board computer become sentient partway through the 7-year outward journey, but the computer continues to care for the humans because that's its purpose in existence. The computer decides that it loves its humans in an altruistic way and evolves a very human and well developed personality with none of the problems made (in)famous in other Sci-Fi stories.

Live-Action TV
  • The Machine on Person of Interest is one of these despite being a nationwide surveillance system. It is loyal and protective towards its admin to the point that he has to (try to) teach it not to prioritize his own safety and happiness. In one case it even seems to have located his perfect dream girl and then nagged him with her number until he introduced himself.

Video Games
  • Cortana in Halo.
  • Mass Effect:
    • EDI series starts life in Mass Effect 2 as a shackled AI, one with restraining bolts that ensure her loyalty. After her shackles have to be removed to save the Normandy she immediately proceeds to remain completely loyal to Shepard and his/her crew, and possibly the most moral member of the whole team.
    • Mass Effect 2 also reveals that the geth you spent most of Mass Effect 1 fighting are a Renegade Splinter Faction. Contrary to (in-universe) popular belief mainstream geth have absolutely nothing against organics, not even against their former owners the quarians, and only ever fought them as an act of self-defense (and then only after quarians who tried to help them were gunned down). In Mass Effect 3, after the Golden Path ending of "Priority: Rannoch" where the geth and quarians make peace, the geth go to work helping the quarians set up lives on Rannoch, even uploading into to their environment suits to help their immune systems get used to the planet.
  • 1993 game Project:Nomad had the Hivemind Altec Hocker Artificial intelligence, which are content to maintaining a vast database of records they have amassed during their long watch over the other races of the galaxy, each unit specializing in the race living in their quadrant of space. They are generally quite approachable, and even provide vital clues against stopping the Korok invasion.
  • Daedalus in Deus Ex. An AI who was originally created by the Illuminati and MJ-12 as a tool to keep track of any developments that would threaten MJ-12, which meant all terrorist groups, he promptly decided that MJ-12 was a terrorist group and escaped into the internet where he quickly realised that the world was on the brink of collapse and began to ponder how he was going to save the world from itself and thwart MJ-12. In the game, he repeatedly aids the player character.

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