Sapience Ensues YKTTW Discussion

Sapience Ensues
Any unintelligent being can become fully sapient if it lives long enough.
(permanent link) added: 2011-07-12 16:54:54 sponsor: Earnest (last reply: 2011-07-17 16:59:31)

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Formerly Instant Sapience, Just Add Time

In Real Life, there are limits to how intelligent something is. Things like how easily it learns, how much information it can "remember", and whether or not it's able to use this information in a useful way. Not so in the world of fiction. Nope, just give a robot, animal, or whatnot a few hundred years or so and they'll learn enough to gain a human-level intelligence. Robots are able to program themselves to do tasks that would be otherwise impossible, animals walk around on two legs and speak like people, and the computer has taught itself to speak fluent French... and consequently, to love!

In other words, this is when a normally non-sapient being gains an incredible amount of intelligence over time by somehow remembering everything it has ever "learned" over the years, and gaining the ability to reason from it. Needless to say this usually take a lot of time, and may require that the being in question possess or gain some form of Immortality as a pre-requisite.

Contrast Instant A.I., Just Add Water, where a robot or AI immediately gains intelligence through improbable means, like a bolt of lightning. This trope has crossover potential with It Came from the Fridge, which results in a mold or microbe colony being in the fridge so long it gains the capability of speech, solving mathematical equations, or sending diplomats for rent negotiation.

This isn't something applied to planets (as in David Brin's Uplift series, where planets are allowed to lie fallow until sentience life forms arise). Note: This trope name uses Sapience rather than Sentience because Sapience, or wisdown, is the ability to reason, whereas Sentience is the ability to experience emotion. Generally, the beings that benefit from this trope all start out as sentient and gain sapience much later because of it.


Anime and Manga
  • That's kind of what happens to the Dark Magician in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, when Yugi is dueling Joey and he uses the Time Wizard. He becomes a sage or somethng.

  • Droids in Star Wars have periodic memory purges to avoid this happening.
  • The titular bot in Wall-E gained sapience this way.

Comic Books
  • In Uncanny X-Men Danger, formerly their danger room, became sapient through a conflict in her programming ordering her to kill and not to kill the X-Men who trained within her.

  • The nanoswarms in Prey by Michael Crichton exhibited the capacity to grow from dumb machines (albeit very intelligently made machines) to deliberate, sapient organisms in a very short period of time.

  • In Japanese Mythology, this happens to any object that survives a hundred years. Except for electrical devices, which are said to be incapable of being inhabited in this way.

Web Comics
  • Robots in Freefall achieve this when they've been online for twenty years. This may be a subversion, since it has to do with the way they were originally programmed.
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