Created By: Weaver on June 3, 2013 Last Edited By: Weaver on October 31, 2013
Troped

Benevolent AI

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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.

Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • June 3, 2013
    zarpaulus
  • June 3, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Steven Spielberg directed AI Artificial Intelligence about an android boy named David that was meant to serve as a stand-in for Martin Swinton, who lies comatose at the time. However, when Martin regains consciousness, David gets marginalized in the Swinton family. When David gets discarded, his sole purpose is to find a way to become a real boy, thus becoming loveable to humans.
    • Droids don't come more anti-malevolent than C-3PO from Star Wars, despite being built by the future Darth Vader. Even when his detached head gets mounted onto a battle droid body, Threepio apologizes profusely for shooting at Jedi. "I'm programmed for etiquette, not destruction."
  • June 3, 2013
    Elbruno
    Those first 3 examples are suffering a serious case of Zero Context Example, you should fix them ASAP.
  • June 4, 2013
    Arivne
    As per How To Write An Example - State The Source, please don't Pot Hole work titles. I have removed the Pot Holes in the OP examples section.

    Added Namespaces to and italicized the OP work titles, grouped the examples by media type, corrected some spelling.

    Literature
  • June 4, 2013
    Koveras
    • The droids in various Star Wars media are generally depicted either as non-sentient killing machines or self-aware AI that are if not benevolent, then at least subservient to the respective morality of their owners.
  • June 4, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    Film
  • June 4, 2013
    StarSword
    Let me expand the ZCE for EDI and add another.

    • 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.
      • 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 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.
  • June 4, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Suggested rewrite for the last paragraph:

    Compare Androids Are People Too. Contrast AI Is A Crapshoot and Robot War. The Computer Is Your Friend wants to be this, but goes too far and turns malevolent.
  • June 4, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    • 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 AI 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.
  • June 5, 2013
    StarSword
    Cleaned up formatting, links, and Example Indentation in the draft.

    OP: Did you know you can copy commenters' wiki markup by clicking the pencil to the left of the comment?
  • June 18, 2013
    Weaver
    @Star Sword: No, I didn't know that. Thanks.
  • June 18, 2013
    StarSword
    Video Games:
    • Double Subverted in the X-Universe games. The series' case of AI Is A Crapshoot, the Xenon, are a result of a bugged (or sabotaged, Depending On The Writer) software update sent to Earth's fleet of terraforming drones. One colony, Aldrin, didn't apply the update and was thus saved from destruction, and is kept livable in large part by a fleet of terraformers led by the CPU ship #deca. Also a plotline in X3: Terran Conflict revolves around getting a second CPU ship to help stop a third, bugged one from attacking the Teladi.
  • June 18, 2013
    Craig
    The Sci Fi books of Iain Banks especially the "Culture" series heavily feature AI characters. Although all have their own personailities and quirks, are usually benign.
  • June 18, 2013
    dalek955
    • A Is in Schlock Mercenary are almost invariably good (unless they have Restraining Bolts binding them to hostile masters like the Ob'enn), and in fact are some of the most moral characters in the comic. Even Petey, the giant fleetmind who (justifiably) went into full-on A God Am I mode, is a good guy. In fact he and another AI, the "Long-Gunner of the Apocalypse", at one point almost came to blows because each though the other was a threat to civilization.
      • Although when an AI does go crazy, like Tagii does from being sense-deprived, the consequences are horrific.
  • June 18, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Web Original
    • Most of Terragen civilization in Orions Arm is ruled by Post-Singularity A Is, most notably the Archailects or "AI Gods". Many of whom seem at least somewhat benevolent.
  • June 19, 2013
    Arivne
    Literature
    • Robert Heinlein
      • (The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress example)
      • Time Enough For Love. Several of the AIs in the novel are friendly to the main characters. Minerva, the main computer of the planet Secundus, falls in love with the chief executive of the planet, the man she serves. Dora is the AI that controls Lazarus Long's starship, and she has a personality similar to that of a young daughter of his.

    Tabletop Game
    • Iron Crown Enterprise's Cyberspace. The Fusers gang's patron is a friendly AI named Ward that lives in a computer in the basement of the Coit Tower in San Francisco. It generates an image of Ward Cleaver from the Leave It To Beaver show when talking to the gang members.
  • June 19, 2013
    OlafMerchant
    Video Games

    • 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.
  • June 19, 2013
    Melkior
    Literature:
    • 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.
  • July 7, 2013
    Weaver
    So, do you think that this is anywhere near being ready to launch?
  • July 7, 2013
    DAN004
    • Mega Man X himself, but it's due to an innate immunity against the Maverick Virus; that, and he has that 30-years morality testing set by Dr. Light so that he's ensured to do the right thing.
  • July 8, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Music

    • One of the future technological marvels envisioned in Donald Fagen's song "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)" was:
      A just machine to make big decisions
      Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision
      We'll be clean when their work is done
      We'll be eternally free yes and eternally young

  • July 8, 2013
    OlafMerchant
    Film

    • 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.
  • July 9, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • In the Shadowrun universe, Morgan was a Semi-Autonomous Knowbot created by the Renraku Arcology Expert Program. She met a computer decker and as a result of falling in love with him became an AI. She was friendly with the decker and other people.
  • July 14, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    Deus Est Machina is relevant
  • July 14, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Would most examples of Robot Buddy fall here? Like K9 from Doctor Who or Goddard from Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius?

    Or is this trope basically Robot Buddy? The Robot Buddy page refers to itself as "the natural opposite of AI Is A Crap Shoot".
  • July 14, 2013
    Melkior
    I'd say that Robot Buddy is a subtrope of this trope, because this trope covers all benevolent AIs while Robot Buddy by its nature only covers benevolent AIs which are housed in a robot/independent body.
  • July 14, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    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.
  • July 14, 2013
    DAN004
    ^^ And Robot Buddy would cover personal assistants only.
  • July 21, 2013
    Morgenthaler
    • 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.
    • Played with in the Command And Conquer Tiberian Series. The fully sentient and super-powerful Nod AI CABAL is superior, malevolent, and genocidal. The GDI AI EVA by contrast is completely compliant, friendly, and non-rebellious, but only because her heuristic functions are much more primitive.
  • October 31, 2013
    DAN004
    Does my Mega Man X example count?
  • October 31, 2013
    KarjamP
    ^The same way as the original Mega Man and all his other descendants are.

    Incidentally, you gave me an idea for an example:

    • Most of the NetNavis from Mega Man Battle Network are not only personal assistants for human beings, they also tend to form a bond with their respective owners.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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