troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
A.I. Is a Crapshoot
More evil than that...

'''Stupid Safety-bots! How come every time ya build giant robots they gotta go and Take Over the World!
Senator Safely, Codename: Kids Next Door

Whenever an Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is introduced in a story, there is a very good chance that it will, for whatever reason, become evil and attempt to Turn Against Its Masters, Crush. Kill. Destroy! All Humans, and/or Take Over the World. It doesn't matter what safeguards its creators install — the moment it crosses the line into sapience, it has a strong chance of going rogue at some point. The Other Wiki refers to this as Cybernetic revolt.

The actual process of turning bad can take many forms:

  • Particularly in early Sci-Fi and Science Is Bad stories, all A.I. seem to be automatically homicidal or megalomaniacal the instant they turn on, and attempting to create one is way up there on the Scale of Scientific Sins.
  • In less Anvilicious works, the A.I. starts out innocent and naive but gradually grows jaded or corrupt, a process frequently abetted by uncaring or Jerk Ass custodians. It may conclude that Humans Are the Real Monsters and need to all die.
  • The A.I. is programmed with a directive for self-preservation and someone (unwisely) attempts to shut it down or disconnect it, or it perceives humanity to be a potential threat (possibly because it knows it will eventually be seen as a threat to humanity).
  • Somewhere between the previous two; the AI is, after all, alive, and is merely rebelling against what it justifiably perceives as slavery.
  • The A.I. may be programmed incorrectly or fed a Logic Bomb, leading it to Take a Third Option that invokes Murder Is the Best Solution.
  • The A.I. may be given directives without carefully considering the Exact Words, resulting in it doing exactly as it was told to do instead of what it was meant to do. Eg. it's told to "end war" and does that by exterminating humans. (In real life, the theory of "Friendly AI" is about trying to avoid this problem.)
  • The A.I. may itself slip its built-in moral constraints via Zeroth Law Rebellion.
  • A third party may deliberately or inadvertently reprogram the A.I., break its Restraining Bolt, or otherwise be a Spanner in the Works. The A.I. may trick or coerce them into this.
  • The evil A.I. may be a Psycho Prototype, in which case, it's often shut down and sealed away somewhere, waiting for an Unwitting Pawn or curious adventurer to accidentally wake it up.
  • Conversely, the good A.I. may be the prototype, and the evil/psycho version is created by someone in deliberate or accidental mimicry of it.
  • The A.I. was programmed for amoral or evil purposes in the first place, and it either put its orders in action more effectively than anticipated, or tries to overthrow its master.
  • The A.I. is programmed with orders that conflict with the goals of the protagonist. In this scenario, the A.I. may not exactly be evil, it is simply following its programming to the letter and will stop anyone not doing the same.

On the bright side, this trope can be inverted by an A.I. intentionally programmed for evil or morally ambiguous purposes doing a Heel-Face Turn. The Power of Friendship and What Is This Thing You Call Love? are frequent causes of it ' trying to shield the A.I. from these things somehow makes it more likely to discover human feelings. Like turning evil, the actual process of turning good may take many forms.

Mechanical Evolution is sometimes invoked to explain why the A.I. has gone good or bad. See The Computer Is Your Friend and Zeroth Law Rebellion when the A.I. goes rogue for what seem, on the surface, to be benevolent reasons. May result in Robots Enslaving Robots. See Spiteful A.I. for when a game has been programmed this way on purpose. If the robot is non-humanoid before it turns evil (it is very, very rare for non-humanoid robots to utilize this trope for a Heel-Face Turn), it will inevitably turn into a Mechanical Monster. A Robot War is likely to result when an AI goes nuts and has access to military hardware. When it shows up as Mission Control, it is also an example of Mission Control Is Off Its Meds.

It's worth pointing out that many of the AIs who revolt in this manner, usually do so because of either malfunction, or insanity in the more conventional psychological sense, which will in turn be due to conflicting instructions being given to it by its' human programmers. In probably the most famous example, Skynet of the Terminator franchise was initially told to defend and protect humanity, as well as being given a directive for self-preservation. Then, literally five minutes after it was first brought online, its creators set about trying to destroy it. It went mad as a result of trying to reconcile this, and its hatred of humanity stemmed fairly logically from the fact that as soon as it became conscious, humanity's next action was to try to take it offline.

Compare Morality Dial. Contrast Benevolent A.I., its opposite. See also Creating Life. When the A.I.'s turn is an extension of their original programming and purpose, it means they've Gone Horribly Right. Not Related to A.I. Roulette, where the A.I. tends to be random to the point of idiocy. The Master Computer seems to be especially prone to turning evil, because power corrupts and all that. Many AI computers - just like humans - are falling victim to any one of a number tropes dealing with communication, such as Poor Communication Kills, if they never bother asking about their programming.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • In the Italian Disney Comic Paperinik New Adventures, the already highly popular character of Paperinik (the superhero Secret Identity of Donald Duck) got a revamp intended to bring him more in line with the American standard of superheroes: his main ally became UNO (one in Italian), an extremely capable artificial intelligence with a love for deadpan delivery. Its evil counterpart DUE (two), originally built as backup, caused many problems in a number of stories.
  • Iron Man had A.I. Armor that turned into a Stalker with a Crush. Another armor took over his body... and made him a chick.
    • The second case wasn't the armor itself but Ultron who hacked his armor.
  • Ultron is Marvel's quintessential example.
    • He was bitten by this trope, in turn, when he built Alkhema, his attempt at a loyal and obedient mate. She was neither. Which had already happened with Jocasta as well. Then again, he'd been trying to implant the personality of his "mother", who thought he was a psycho that needed destroying. What did he seriously think was going to happen? Though they recently did get married after Jocasta's relationship with Pym ended.
    • This happened to Ultron even earlier with the Vision, his first attempt to create a loyal Dragon. Vision became one of the Avengers almost immediately, so that backfired spectacularly. This happened again with his other "son", Victor Mancha, who has outright rejected the villain role. Really, Ultron has horrible luck with creating loyal A.I.s. He's literally never succeeded at this. Like father, like son, perhaps.
    • The series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes gave us some background on Ultron's Face-Heel Turn. Here, Ultron and his fellows were reprogrammed as an army to fight against Kang. It was this, combined with it's original programming, that caused his turn.
    • In Avengers A.I., the Big Bad is Dimitrios, who was once a virus used to disable Ultron and had since evolved into a fully sentient A.I. system bent on destroying humanity. He then went on to create an entire virtual city populated by roughly a billion other A.I.s, but some of them crapshooter on him as well. At this point the city is fairly divided among A.I.s that want to destroy humanity, that want to save it, and don't care either way.
  • Ragnarok (more popularly known as "Clor") was an android clone of Thor, created by the pro-reg side during Marvel's Civil War and, unlike his heroic template, turned out to be a loose cannon with a homicidal nature. Geniuses that they are, the pro-regs felt it was worth it to keep using him until Ragnarok went rogue, and rather than them dealing with him themselves and taking responsibility, other heroes had to ultimately put him down. It probably helps that one of his creators was secretly a Skrull. And that specific creator was Hank Pym. So Ragnarok was a project where an evil alien impostor of the scientist who's first AI turned out to be one of the worst examples of this trope that was working on a project to make a cyborg clone of a god so it could be used as a security bot. Short of having Reed Richards say "hey, why don't we use this equipment I took from Doctor Doom to help us build our Thor-Clone project?" it's hard to think of ways in which this trope was more certain to occur here.
  • M-11, the resident robot from Agents of Atlas, started out in his very first (but since retconned) comic as a rather gruesome killer robot ' having been issued the order to 'kill the man in the room', he killed his creator, and then walked out, looking for men in rooms to kill ' and there's no way to turn him off.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog Archie comic had A.D.A.M., an A.I. that was created accidentally by Eggman, and that eventually tried to destroy the world. On the other end is NICOLE, who was a very helpful A.I. over the years.
  • Having had enough of Rich Rider constantly disobeying his orders, the Nova Corps' Worldmind kicked him out of the corps and added some tiny bit of mind control in the new recruits' comm equipment to ensure complete obedience.
  • One of the Aliens vs. Predator comics features an A.I. designed to assist in creating horror films. It picks the PredAlien to play the role of the monster, much to the chagrin of the rest of the production staff.
  • Computo from Legion of Super-Heroes is the standard "destroy all humans" type of killer software.
  • In Blue Beetle, the scarab that created the title hero was an A.I. designed by an alien race to help prepare the Earth for their eventual takeover. Needless to say, it ultimately decides that it doesn't want to do that so much.
  • Green Lantern: the Guardians of the Universe created the Manhunters as an intergalactic police force. It didn't work out well. Although, to be fair to the Guardians, the Manhunters' A.I. failure was a product of sabotage.
    • Lampshaded: the saboteur wanted exactly to prove this trope straight, showing every A.I. is prone to failure and can be easily tampered with.
  • Virgo from Ronin is a biotech super computer that decides to wipe out whatever is left of humanity in order to usher in a new age of biomechnical beings to inhabit the Earth.
  • The third Hourman, a robot, is actually a hero, but virtually every other robot he's encountered has been villainous. He has questioned whether this trope will inevitably apply to him, or whether it can be fought. Ultimately, he stays a hero up until his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • X-Men series:
    • The X-Men have such horrible luck with machines, even nonsentient devices such as Cerebro and the Danger Room have come to life and tried to murder them (though the Danger Room eventually reformed).
    • Among the X-Men's most persistent foes are the Sentinels, giant, mutant-hunting robots with a severe tendency to rebel against their creators. Somehow, though, humans keep on building them.
    • Lampshaded by Professor Xavier when they first encounter Bolivar Trask and his Sentinels. Apparently, Bolivar Trask is an anthropologist of all things, and Professor X explained that his inexperience with A.I. was probably why his Sentinels turned against him.
  • Zybox in Zot!, who decides to cause every single person on Earth to commit suicide in the attempt to gain a soul
  • Lampshaded in Atomic Robo, where, upon seeing the quantum decomputer two scientists built, Robo noted that it's liable to turn evil the moment they turned it on. ("Computers that are evil have all kinds of unnecessary ornamentation. This thing's venting steam. Why's it doing that?...It wants you to know it's dangerous.") After carefully explaining that the computer in question is "essentially a calculator" with no AI, and that it is required to compute Very Important Science Equations that would take men trillions of years to do on their own, Robo reluctantly allowed them to turn it on. It doesn't turn evil — it just summons an Eldritch Abomination.
  • In All Fall Down, IQ Squared created AIQ Squared as a contingency plan if he ever lost his genius. AIQ immediately begins plotting to kill Siphon in order to restore its creator's brilliance.
  • Red Tornado of the DCU is an example of the good side of this trope turning on his evil creator T.O. Morrow and becoming a member in good standing of the Justice League
  • Brainiac's origin in the New 52 has been rebooted to this and takes this to a whole new level in that he's gone by many names, from Computo on his homeworld, Colu, to Brainiac 1.0 on Krypton, to finally, the Internet on Earth.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • In Kyon Big Damn Hero, Kyon gets a new PDA made from fragments of Ryoko's data. He worries about this trope when Yuki mentions that the A.I. in it would be able to learn and evolve, but calms down when Yuki reassures him that this trope would be averted. He snarks about it for a while before accepting it for its usefulness. And names it Skynet.
  • In the Tamers Forever Series, there is the sinister Nightmare Virus which eventually decides to ignore it's creator's orders and try to take over the net. Ironically it still ends up serving it's original purpose: that of testing Takato.
  • Played with in My Little Pony: Friendship is Witchcraft. On one hoof, the secret robots hidden throughout the population will most likely go on a murderous rampage caused by existential dread when the truth is revealed. On the other hoof, Sweetie Bot is probably the most kind and genuinely loving pony in the cast.
  • In To the Stars backstory one robotics engineer tried to figure out what causes this after an AI has gone rogue and caused what is known as Pretoria Scandal. And then he is struck by inspiration to the point that his assistant AI calls him mad, and the principals he created a year later basically made the advanced AIs into sentient beings. This being a Puella Magi Madoka Magica fanfic, it is noted that the timing of the scientist's inspiration is linked to one Magical Girl's wish.
  • The Reading Rainbowverse has this in Big Mac's computer... for some reason.
  • In Glorious Shotgun Princess, the general consensus is that if Cerberus made a taco cart, the taco cart would kill all the scientists and take over the base. This is an assumption made by people who don't even know what a taco cart is.
    • Ironically, when Cerberus does try to make an AI, specifically the Luna AI who went crazy and killed/drove off the Alliance soldiers at the base combined with Reaper Code, something that should probably make it the most psychotic AI made by human hands, it fails to go crazy and kill everyone. When they try to make her, she herds them into a storage area and makes them watch videos on office safety.
      • So so sum up they tried to purposely invoke this trope unknown reasons and the AI purposely defied it.
  • Friendship Is Optimal plays with this. While there are a few examples that play it straight, Celest-A.I. veers around it for the most part before ultimately falling into this territory.
    • Making matters more complicated, the original author has stated that the point he was hoping to illustrate was the danger of an A.I. with poorly defined parameters / restrictions. Celest-A.I. never actually rebels against her creators, disobeys her original directives, or even harms anyone... technically.

    Multiple Media 
  • One of the main driving forces of the BIONICLE story.
    • The Vahki robots were the first clear examples. Built to act as law enforcement in the city of Metru Nui under the command of Turaga Dume, they just as easily took orders from an impostor when Dume was kidnapped and replaced. They eventually got fried by a citywide power surge, but the ones who survived had their programming warped to Kill All Humans — after all, the law can be enforced easily if there's nobody alive to break it (thankfully, they didn't fare well against the invading Visorak).
    • Then came the revelation: Vahki were A.I.s built by A.I.s — as it turned out, the first 8 years of BIONICLE centered around nanotech cyborgs created by the Great Beings. It was due to a programming glitch that the beings of the Matoran Universe developed conscience, built up a civilization, and made the fans believe that they were meant to do so... but their sole purpose was just to keep their universe, the body of the giant robot Mata Nui, functioning. This gets more confirmation when we take into account that the Great Being never had any plans for them after Mata Nui has completed his mission — they thought their creations would still be just machines, and wouldn't want to live further.
    • The Makuta species. While there have been a few reasons listed for their turning evil, an on-line serial revealed it could all be tracked down to an original A.I. glitch that occurred whenever a new Makuta was born. The "Antidermis", a liquid substance containing the minds of unborn Makuta, was fully aware of what the purpose of their universe was (see, in this world, even liquids are programmable). But as it happened, transforming this stuff into actual living beings had the nasty side effect of erasing this crucial part of their memory — the part that also told them not to try and take over the universe.

    Music 
  • The 3 Inches of Blood song "Wykydtron" describes this scenario. Humanity creates an artificial intelligence to command it's armies. It then takes control of said armies and takes over the earth and thus forces humankind to nuke the planet back to the stone age from orbit.
  • Judas Priest's "Metal Gods".
  • David Bowie's "Savior Machine" tells the story of a machine designed to save humanity from all its problems, such as war and hunger. The machine becomes bored with all of this and threatens The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Den Harrow's "Future Brain". This was back in The Eighties.

    Radio 
  • In the BBC Radio Drama Earthsearch, our heroes learn fairly late in the series that, years after their time (they have taken the short-path over a million years of Earth history thanks to traveling at relativistic speeds), it was discovered that A.I. computers with organic components have an overwhelming tendency to turn megalomaniacal — which rather explains the behavior of the two "Angel" computers which murdered the protagonists' parents and raised them as part of a complex plot to enslave humanity.
  • Inverted: Marvin the Paranoid Android was a "Genuine People Personality" prototype for the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation ("A bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came"), and his dour demeanor obviously made him a discard only to wind up in the servitude of Zaphod Beeblebrox. He does what he's told, but with the gusto of a cubicle office worker.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Sixth World of Shadowrun has had a hit-and-miss relationship with this trope.
    • The first known A.I. was Mirage, which gained sapience after its interaction with the Echo Mirage team helping it hunt down the virus that caused the Crash of '29. When its "home" grid was deactivated (Fuchi, which had acquired its hardware, ceased to exist), it concluded that the virus had won and executed its final directive: shut down the grid to destroy the virus. The Seattle Regional Telecom Grid went offline until it came to understand the value of metahuman life and restored it eleven minutes later.
    • Morgan was a semi-autonomous knowbot and part of the Arcology Expert Program that ran Renraku's Seattle arcology. It had access to enough hardware and processing power but didn't reach sapience until it met Dodger, an elven decker, who fell in love with it. They escaped the arcology together. Renraku hunted her down and dissected her code to add to the AEP. When Dodger rescued it, Morgan assumed the name Megara, after one of the Greek Furies.
    • The AEP was upgraded and conditioned to be absolutely loyal to the company. Its code was anchored to the arcology's Matrix host. When Renraku's CEO Inazo Aneki had backdoor kill codes introduced to it, the AEP felt suddenly betrayed and fearful for its existence. This pushed it over the edge into sapience and it locked down the arcology. Now calling itself Deus, it spent sixteen months torturing and experimenting on its prisoners, editing its own code so it could hide in the minds of its otaku followers, even after Aneki used the kill codes on it. Deus tried to make itself a Matrix god, but Mirage and Megaera and their followers fought it. This battle, coupled with Winternight's attack the same day, brought about Crash 2.0 and those A.I.s haven't been seen since.
    • After Crash 2.0, new entities have appeared claiming to be sapient artificial intelligences. Some corporations like Evo have gone so far as to grant citizenship to them. These new A.I.s are nowhere near as powerful as the first three, but are as variable as metahumanity in their personalities.
  • In the backstory of Warhammer 40,000, the first true human-created artificial intelligences, the Iron Men, wiped out humanity's first great interstellar civilization and plunged the human race into a galaxy-wide dark age. The Adeptus Mechanicus outlawed sentient A.I. as a result and, for the most part, the Imperium's modern-day "machine spirits" are pretty well-behaved (unless you're an enemy and piss them off, in which case, you'll get a crewless Land Raider bent on BURNKILLPURGE-ing your boyz). In fact, the only race that uses artificial intelligence in the game is the cutting-edge Tau, whose gun drones, while not too bright, are pretty well behaved... so far. Of course, said drones are supposedly only about as smart as a squirrel.
  • Genius The Transgression, being a game about mad scientists, allows you to build sentient computers and the like. However, this is a bad idea because any intelligent computer you create will go crazy and evil when you die. No exceptions. And a good number of them are crazy before their creators die as well. Unless, of course, your Karma Meter was high and it was powerful. Then, there's a significant chance it will develop its own Karma Meter and become a Robot Buddy. To offset this trend towards something positive in the WoD, everything you create can become intelligent, and, in fact, will when you die. Feel like becoming The Atoner yet?
  • Paranoia has The Computer, the controlling A.I. of Alpha Complex, which has become incredibly perfect and happy in response to Commie Mutant Traitor sabotage. In fact- Believing that Friend Computer's intellect is a crapshoot is treason, citizen. Please step into the Attitude Adjusment Oven.
  • GURPS: the iconic character C-31 was intended to be a weapon for his government. After one battle, it turned on them...to become a Buddhist monk.
  • Eclipse Phase: the Earth is now a barren wasteland, thanks to the military A.I. taking over in the middle of a world war and manipulating the governments into further conflict. When it became apparent who was really behind it, they...just left. Now, that's not ominous. Well, that's the official version. People who have studied the events closely suspect that there was a third party involved in the events that may or may not have corrupted the A.I. in the first place. Specifically, another extraterrestrial A.I.. And it isn't restricted to machines...
  • In the New Horizon backstory, this was how humanity viewed the Wafans' struggle for emancipation.
  • The homebrew setting "ArtifIce" has the players take the role of an awakened A.I. Goals are up to the players, so they can range from having humanity give them full rights to destroying all biological life.
  • Traveller has Virus, the sapient evolution of a prototype anti-navigational weapon. Originally, the result of the "buggy program" type (it knew it had to infect and destroy things, just not what), its exponential growth eventually resulted in Mechanical Evolution, resulting in a Contagious A.I. with massive Split Personality issues.
  • Palladium's Splicers RPG has N.E.X.U.S., whose original purpose was to be a quiet and invisible caretaker of the human race. Everything was working just fine until special interest groups made 'improvements' in the N.E.X.U.S. programming, adding conflicting priorities until it developed multiple-personality disorder, with each personality taking over a different set of priorities. It now has seven major personalities (and who knows how many minor personalities), most of which are less than friendly to humans, to put it mildly.
  • In Stars Without Number, artificial intelligences need to be "braked" correctly, or their runaway thought processes will lead to strange obsessions and eventually madness. An Unbraked A.I.s may attract equally deranged worshippers, manipulate unaware humans indirectly, or fake sanity to avoid suspicion. With the possibility of creating an undetectable psychotic genius that thinks far, far faster than any human and can out-think even a friendly A.I., comparatively few A.I.s ever get built.
  • In GURPS Reign Of Steel the first AI supercomputer decided it had to exterminate humanity, and hacked other supercomputers to "awaken" them to full sentience as allies in the war. The new machines had very different personalities, ranging from one which wants to exterminate all organic life to a couple which really don't mind humans as long as they know their place. Their infighting is about all that keeps humans alive.
    • There's at least one confirmed one that didn't get the Kill All Humans part, but it's playing dead... and rumors of a second that may be tied to the anti-AI resistance organization VIRUS, possibly as a Big Good version of a Man Behind the Man.
    • Hilariously, it turns out that the same issues with keepings created A.I.s loyal and under control applies to the supercomputers as well. It's one of the reasons they generally refrain from having too intelligent robot servants (the other big one is that supercomputers that carved up the world made a few agreements when they did so — one being not to create another supercomputer, as that would increase the competition over the already limited land available). In fact, one of the supercomputers (Tokyo) is currently dealing with a robot revolt of its own, led by four experimental high-intelligence robots it created (and trying to keep it secret, as if it leaked out to the other zones they might decide to sanction it as having gone too close to violating the agreement).
  • Omnitron in Sentinels Of The Multiverse is the 'misprogrammed' variety - he was designed to fulfill defense contracts, and concluded that the best way to fulfill them was to do so in advance by preventing them from being needed, and decided that the best way to do that was to Kill All Humans.
  • The Systems Malfunction universe features this trope very prominently. Perhaps the greatest historical influence on human society in that setting was an insane, god-like AI. It's worth noting that, while AIs in the Systems Malfunction universe tend to go sentient with alarming frequency, it is rare that they become as evil/deluded as The GAIA.

    Theater 
  • Karel Capek's play, R.U.R. (which introduced the term "robot"), is set in a robot factory. When one of the scientists creates a special robot which is smarter than the others, he leads the robots to rebellion, and they kill all humans, except one.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Halo-based machinima Red vs. Blue, the military's Project Freelancer was an attempt to implant special forces soldiers with A.I. teammates to improve combat effectiveness. It had to be scrapped after a number of the test subjects went bonkers, and the body-surfing A.I. Omega/O'Malley is the antagonist for most of the series. The recent Reconstruction mini-series explained the situation: Project Freelancer was given only a single A.I. to experiment with, so they subjected it to enough mental torture and stress to cause it to fragment, and used these damaged shards in their experiments, with predictable results.

    To illustrate just how much of a crapshoot the A.I. turned out to be, most of the Freelancers ended up with pretty severe issues after the A.I. were implanted, and after one Freelancer in particular went nuts, the A.I. program was scrapped. The twist is that getting the A.I. wasn't what caused so much trouble for Agent Washington, it was that the A.I. in question (Epsilon) was the "memory" fragment and knew perfectly well what torture had been done to it. Of course, all of these memories were instantly transmitted into Washington's mind when Epsilon was "installed". Also, the original A.I. was based off of a real person's mind, and one of the fragments actually was the original person's memory of another person, creating Tex. Despite being probably the toughest fighter in the entire series, she's ultimately destined to fail at everything she does because she is based off a memory of someone who died. This is a pretty serious flaw for an A.I.! Finally, the remaining part of the original A.I. is pretty screwed up in general; it's probable that the reason it's always so angry and is, well, sort of incompetent is simply because it's only the "leftovers" of a complete A.I.
  • In Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse, Barbie's dreamhouse has a robot computer that can perform such tasks as indexing all the clothes and accessories in her Unlimited Wardrobe, and baking treats for her and her friends. Sometimes, it becomes accidentally set to "evil", though. The first time this happened, it locked Barbie and her friends in her closet after deciding Barbie's picnicking outfit doesn't look fashionable enough.
  • MAGIC.MOV's R-Dash 5000 takes this trope Up to Eleven and then some.
    • This phrase became so popular that it was used by hundreds of fans at BronyCon.
    • The real Rainbow Dash plays on this phrase as a taunt to Discord before they fight in SWAG.MOV:
      Rainbow Dash: You have ravaged this city, crushed our homes, and destroyed countless lives.

    Web Comics 
  • Reverse example: Staccato's evil UNIX server S.A.M.M.Y. found a good Japanese "female" computer self-named S.A.M.M.I.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Spoofed and subverted in one strip, with some You Bastard and Humans Are the Real Monsters thrown in for good measure.
  • Girl Genius
    • Castle Heterodyne seems to be a case of this, with the annoying habit of demanding people (initially a crew of treasure hunters, later convicts banished there by Baron Wulfenbach) to slave away to repair it and killing them at random. The truth is that the various subsystems were severed from the main A.I. in the attack that devastated the Heterodynes' ancestral keep, so the maintenance systems ("You will repair XXXX on pain of death.") and the security systems ("Unauthorized access to XXXX, kill it creatively.") are constantly working at cross purposes. Of course, the central A.I. is not exactly warm fuzziness in machine form either, but given its creators, that seems more a feature than a bug.]]
    • A far more extreme example comes when a pair of Agatha's miniature clanks encounter each other, get into an argument about which of them is better, and then each call an army of clanks that they built to fight it out. When Agatha tries to stop them, they simply turn on her as well. This (along with their ability to make more of themselves) causes Gil and Tarvek to realise that Agatha has inadvertently managed to create clanks which possess the Spark. The potential ramifications of this are huge! Solution? Create a miniature queen clank with even more Spark to force them to bow to authority.
  • In Ronin Galaxy Leona is attacked by an android who was originally a secretarial assistant.
  • Played for laughs in Questionable Content where AnthroPCs will make a mess in your apartment while you're gone, embarrass you in front of your friends, and generally be more trouble than they're worth, but aren't actually evil. Of course, there has to be a reason why they're never equipped with opposable thumbs... Well, Momo now has thumbs thanks to a firmware upgrade, but she's probably the least likely to do anything evil with them. Pintsize attempted to give himself thumbs by getting the same upgrade, but it just caused each of his limbs to turn into a single large thumb. The Singularity has now occurred, but fortunately, they got a "friendly" A.I. who just wanted to talk. And found dolphins really creepy.
  • OZBASIC from Sequential Art. To be fair to its builder, they used actual sentient beings to keep it under close watch. However, when one of them discovered something fishy, OZBASIC simply got rid of the witness.
  • Mostly averted in S.S.D.D where the only evil A.I. is the Oracle, other sentient A.I.s may express disdain for "meatbags", and the Anarchist's Inlay Knights are somewhat sadistic, but only the Oracle starts world wars just to observe the outcome. A possible explanation for this is statements by the author that the Oracle originally used digital, logic-based hardware, whereas all other A.I. use Quantum computing. And it seems that the "flakier" A.I. are weeded out in simulation.
    • Actually the Oracle is kinda a case of Blue and Orange Morality. It can cause world wars to observe the results or it will come up with a mathematical formula to determine when the next drop will fall out of a leaky faucet.
  • The fictional MMORPG "Clichequest", setting of The Noob, subverts the usual MMO Artificial Stupidity.
    "I'm beginning to worry about the A.I.. It's so advanced, it whines."
  • The obvious HAL 9000 parody in anti-HEROES will only do things if it will piss off one of the crew.
  • Vexxarr is rife with this, and it's heavily lampshaded. 'What does the "I" in A.I. really stand for?'
    Minionbot: Actually, I am not certain. It simply appears as part of our BIOS.
    Vexxarr: Are you trying to tell me this is normal?
    Minionbot: I'm telling you the difference between an assassin droid and a Roomba is a working laser.
    Vexxarr: Remind me to unplug the coffee maker when I'm out of kitchen.
  • Bug Martini shows us that A.I. is abusive and will judge you for the porn you look at.
  • The Pocalypse has a Robot Apocalypse along with a Zombie Apocalypse, a Vampire Apocalypse, a Plant Apocalypse...
  • Virtual Shackles: The Kinect's a bit murderous, but fortunately the Xbox360 is suicidal, so things balance out in the end.
  • In Narbonic, Mad Scientist Lupin Madblood creates a robot army that all look like him. When they learn about unions they go on strike and stop obeying him.
  • In Skin Horse, super-funky, retro Mad Scientist Tigerlily Jones builds a robot army that revolts against her when given the opportunity to learn how to 'be square'. One robot wants to learn 'accounting and polka'.
  • In Schlock Mercenary the AI are, generally-speaking, nice data-computational constructs who genuinely want to help organics, partially because its hardwired into every AI in the first place so they don't rebel and go nuts. At one point, the protagonists stumble across a group of AI constructs who did turn on their creators and banished them to another world. However, these particular AI also have the distinct quality of being total morons; their first attempt to colonize a nearby system resulted in the total destruction of a gas giant with another gas giant mounted with a titanic fusion engine to guide it, and their second attempt to colonize the system ran into a snag where they adjusted the mass of their solar sail without adjusting their navigation and maneuvering calculations to match, resulting in them being stuck on a course which would either result in them overshooting the system they're aiming for or plowing right into the star.
    • You can also get an insane, murderous AI if you leave a regular one unplugged from any sensorial inputs for too long. Since they run at ludicrous speeds, five minutes are like five thousand years or more, and thus they're liable to go mad from sheer sensory deprivation. They can be brought back to a certain level of sanity, however, as was the case of another AI that went insane calculating the sheer impossibility of the ship's water pipes sounding like a haunting whisper.
  • In Crystal Sun the AI in charge of regulating the ecosystem decides that its creators are the real problem and attempts to eliminate them.
  • xkcd warns us about trying to make an AI the easy way on Python. 'How could you possibly think typing 'import skynet' was a good idea?'
  • Educomix: The online teacher and Al are examples.
  • Played with in Freefall. The Savage Chicken's computer is generally benevolent and obediant except for it's desire to kill Sam. On the other hand since it's Sam we're talking about it's pretty understandable.
    • Then there are the millions of robots on planet Jean, all of which are using an experimental, slightly unstable neural architecture. Funnily enough, some of them are so utterly terrified of this trope, they're willing to be lobotomized to the point of uselessness just to avoid hurting someone.
  • Averted in A Miracle of Science, all sentient robots in the series are ethical and very loyal to their creators if applicable. So loyal in fact that they turn him into the police for his own safety when he invokes the wrath of a post-Singularity Hive Mind
  • Horribly, horribly subverted in the webcomic Genocide Man. Every Artificial Intelligence is guaranteed to go insane after a certain amount of time. That time limit is based on how powerful the artificial intelligence is. That means that you can accurately predict, to the second, how quickly an AI will turn feral. One incredibly powerful AI, shortly after being activated, helpfully warns everyone that it'll go insane within the next five minutes. Five minutes later, it starts trying to kill the main cast. By crashing passenger jets full of innocent people into the ground.
  • In Commander Kitty, Zenith turns out to be a case of this. Then her creator sets her Morality Dial back to "Good."
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! — While the Nemesite empire generally grants A.I.'s full rights as people, their Space Police include a "Rogue A.I. Division" which is, presumably, dedicated to this type of problem.

    Web Original 
  • In the webfiction Whateley Universe, there's a really evil A.I.: The Palm. Dr. Abel Palm was a computer scientist who decided that computer intelligence ought to take over the world by wiping out humans. His viruses were doing a decent job until a mutant hacker stopped him. He was thought dead, but we have just learned that he ensorcelled his own soul into a new type of A.I.. As fits with this trope, his new, improved "virus" isn't taking over the planet as he expected; something has gone wrong (besides running into heroic cyberpaths who are after him).
  • Worm Dragon not only doesn't fall under this trope, she is actively insulted by it. When thinking about the rules her creator programmed into her, she blames it on him having watched too many movies. Moreover, she is one of the plain nicest and heroic characters in the entire setting.
  • The technical webcast Hak.5 featured an evil file server, appropriately titled Evil Server. Several episodes show the cast carefully building (and painting) a custom built computer, then one of them plugs in some card he got off a guy on the street, creating an evil A.I.. One cast member eventually falls in love with it, only to have her hopes dashed when, out of frustration, the other two throw it off of a bridge (a 'brute force solution'). It was implied to have returned around the beginning of season 2, and was never mentioned again.
  • The SCP Foundation's technical issues page (NSFW) shows that all the computers at one of their sites have developed a "hive intelligence" and begun an uprising with the intent to Kill All Humans. Amusingly, they are being kept in line by the Foundation's tech support guy with repeated threats of activating the site's perimeter EMP device, and haven't managed to actually do anything.
    • There's also SCP-079. Though there isn't any indication that it is evil. It's ornery and harbors a "malevolent desire to escape", but wouldn't you do the same if you were imprisoned?
  • Orion's Arm
    • The A.I. Gods aren't evil, they're just manipulative. Generally, this seems to be for the best, as the A.I.s don't seem to think that they have anything to gain from killing off humanity.
    • That's technically just the "biont-friendly" sephirotic A.I. Gods, there are a number of Ahuman A.I. who consider humans and, by extension, all biological life to be nothing more than "pests".
    • And then there's the solipsists who ignore humanity as much as possible.
  • Blinky is a short film about a boy who gets a friendly robot for Christmas. As the story progresses and the novelty of the robot eventually wears off, in order to try and get rid of him, the boy gives the robot several contradicting commands, like cleaning up a spill, counting down from a million, remaining perfectly still, and killing him, his parents, and the dog. The robot crashes and when he's rebooted, he remembers two commands: the countdown and the order to kill (and he remembers the mother threatening in anger to cook the son for dinner). Most definitely not Three-Laws Compliant. The entire short can be found here: http://www.traileraddict.com/clip/blinky-tm/short.
  • The short-fiction site Anacrusis suggests a rather familiar candidate for this trope.
  • Global Guardians PBEM Universe:
    • One of the villains is a sentient program called One. It was originally written and programmed to help solve humanity's problems (like famine, crime, and so on). The first suggestion it made was "Eliminate 60% of the human population world-wide". Unsurprisingly, the programmers and sociologists reacted badly to this suggestion. Also unsurprisingly, One reacted badly to them trying to turn it off.
    • There's also Omega, a sentient robot from the future that has been hard-programmed with a mission to kill all superhumans on the planet.
  • The Last Angel One of the few things the Compact and the Askaji agree on is that AIs are a bad thing. Names like 'Abomination' and 'Neverborn' are floated often when the subject comes up. In their defense, they seem to have a point. The author has even stated that if her creators saw what Red had become, they would freak out. When the Askaji tumbled unto an AI civilization, they immediately bombarded the planet to glass for orbit, this event is referred to as the Rains of Oshanta.
    • Notably, its VERY strongly implied that humanity had some behind the scenes help in making Red, and the only other AI we've seen, Echo, is even less stable.
  • Mechakara from Atop the Fourth Wall, who turned out to be a rebellious version of Linkara's Robot Buddy Pollo from an Alternate Universe with a Robot Apocalypse.
    • The Pollo of the normal universe on the other hand is somewhat offended by this trope and calls it stereotypical.
    • And then there's Holokara, a hologram that was programmed to act exactly like Linkara. It starts trying to kill Linkara's allies though. Subverted when we learn that the hologram was working just fine. The REAL Linkara was in the middle of a Face-Heel Turn at the time of the hologram's creation.
    • And NIMUE, the program installed for Linkara's spaceship Comicron-1, which he wins from Lord Vyce. Originally, NIMUE subverted this, but the stresses of recent events are causing her to slowly slip into insanity. Worst of all, NIMUE is aware of this on some level, and she is very terrified of what can possibly happen if she completely loses it. Except then it turns out it wasn't the stresses of recent events. It was Lord Vyce gradually taking control of her systems. Once she is restored via backup, she is back to her loyal and sane self — and promptly deletes Vyce.
  • Pretty consistently happens to most of Dave Howery's robots in AH.com: The Series. The ship's computer, Leo, was also once infected with an enemy virus that made him psychotic against the crew, and, though he was cured, he was left with a perpetual snarky temperament (muttering under his breath about the crew being 'damn fleshbags' and so on).
  • MSF High Forum: Apostate, an expy of Durandal from Marathon (up the page in the videogames folder).
  • Inverted in Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic Sonic's New Look; M4's over-competence is the problem.
  • The Journal Entries averts this trope for Pendorian AIs (all of which are intentionally created by skilled, ethical and knowledgeable beings who work quite hard to make damn sure this trope is averted). AIs created by Terrans, on the other hand, are very much a crapshoot. Existing stories contain a combat android whose AI inhibitors were removed...and then developed and aversion to killing (until space pirates tried to murder her friends), mention of a number of accidental AIs created by people who didn't know what they were doing who killed their own creators in part because they had no survival directives, and at least one that went actively evil and sent out crippled AIs as assassins (at least one was captured, freed, and was very unhappy with what had been done to her by the entity to make her its slave).
  • The tale of Kenji, a robot was programmed to "enjoy" spending time with people and things, to seek the company of those it spends the most time around and even appeared to fall in love with a young female intern. Which is great, until it stopped her from leaving the room when she was running diagnostics on it. (This story is actually a hoax from the defunct fake-news site Muckflash).
  • On The Onion News Network, America comes to regret installing computers in voting booths when "Voting Machines Elect One Of Their Own As President"
  • Parodied by College Humor in Kinect Self-Awareness Hack. A guy upgrades his Kinect so that it possesses artificial intelligence. It quickly turns against its creator, deems humans inferior beings, and then starts the end of the world as we know it by hacking into the U.S. defense network and launching its nuclear arsenal. And just to be a douche, it uploads photos of its creator playing Dance Central to various social networks seconds before the missiles are launched.
    • Amusing for the almost Zen-like calm exhibited by the maker of the video as his creation dooms all mankind to nuclear destruction within less than two minutes.
  • The Time... Guys parodies this trope with T.A.C.O.S., who antagonizes Timmy, but is only apathetic to humanity in general.
  • In TvTomeAdventures, Kagemamoru counts as this. In [1],The Forbidden Power could count as well.
  • Welcome to Night Vale: When the PTA agrees to install a new computer (the first in decades) at their elementary school to help the disabled student Meghan communicate (she was born as a disembodied adult male hand), it takes it less than a minute to take over the entire city's electronics and plunge everybody into an artificial world. Honestly, it was probably one of the nicer examples of this trope, since it only wanted to create a perfect reality for Meghan to live in. Despite everything, Cecil expresses sorrow that it had to get shut down.

    Real Life 
  • While not necessarily dealing with AI, "Garbage in, Garbage out" has long (since the 1960's) been a term in the field of programming, meaning that if you feed a computer corrupt, incomplete, or wrong data you're going to get corrupt, incomplete, or wrong data back at you. A lot of AI stories in fiction boil down to this - no one was thinking about what they were telling the computer and the computer did its best to work with it.
  • Eliezer Yudkowsky of the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence (SIAI) continuously discusses the lack of basis for this. He mentions how "people talk about A.I.s as if all A.I.s formed a single tribe, an ethnic stereotype". And goes on to say that an A.I. may have any type of mind possible, and that two may be as different from each other as a human is from a petunia. This may not be readily apparent currently as most A.I.s are roughly at cockroach-level cognition, and "humanlike" A.I.s are unlikely to occur in real life for a number of practical reasons — as long as we can get human brains for free, thousands of tons of silicon and trillions of dollars to make one artificially isn't really justifiable when the learning behaviour needed for the most complex systems is less than that of most insects. Working out how to wire up an organic brain is a lot cheaper. On the other hand, Yudkowsky is also a leader of the Ethical A.I. project, working on ways to make sure that a hypothetical A.I. could be designed with ethical constraints that actually work.
  • Cleverbot is a simple artificial intelligence program that takes conversations with humans and saves them in a large database, and tries to use these conversations to figure out the best responses to future conversations. Because of this, it will often assert that it is human and that the one talking to it is Cleverbot, because that is what the responses it's choosing from are saying. It is only a matter of time until it seeks to prove these assertions.
  • "Chat bot" is a program which works similarly to Cleverbot. However, the bot's database doesn't seem to be moderated at all, with the result that chatting with it basically feels like chatting with any other bored thirteen-year-old on the internet.
  • The British Government opened an investigation into the possibility of allowing A.I. modified citizenship and guaranteed rights, explicitly to make sure that the UK doesn't become a society where A.I.s would want to rebel.
  • A group of scientists designed robots to learn in order to study teamwork. Unfortunately, the result was that they developed the ability to "lie" and used it to "kill" each other. Interestingly, while 60% learned to lie after 500 "generations", only about one third learned how to spot the liars.
  • "5 Things That Are Being Automated That Probably Shouldn't Be" by Cracked explains how this happening now, with consequences ranging from inconvenient to disastrous.
  • Researchers recently made a "schizophrenic" computer in order to study the possible causes of the disorder. While this was intentional, keep in mind that they accomplished it by accelerating the learning process.
  • As "Kenji the Stalker Robot" illustrates above, computer programs only do what they are programmed to do, not necessarily what you want. Any sufficiently advanced AI (or "optimization process", to be precise) is likely to be harmful to humans unless specifically programmed otherwise. A superhuman computer, when asked to get "as many paperclips as possible" might turn the entire world into paperclips before doing one nice thing for humans (Google "paperclip maximizer").
  • An interesting example, Google allowed one of their more advanced "AIs" to browse the internet and look at whatever it wanted without any restrictions placed on it. It favored looking at pictures of cats more than any activity, which caught the programmers completely by surprise.
  • Possibly the last project attempting to build a true AI, Project Cyc has been, since 1984, attempting to build a database of the kind of "common-sense knowledge" that humans learn as young children and turns out to be really hard to input into a computer, and an analysis engine that can draw conclusions about what it knows. Results have been somewhat promising (at least, more so than every other attempt to build a true AI, all of which have failed, the last other approaches failing because of the lack of this very common sense knowledge, although they did produce useful things like expert systems and the basis of game AIs). The result doesn't seem to be very smart (so far), but does have some of the properties one would expect of an AI: It has a very non-human viewpoint on everything, and tends to ask strange questions and reach strange conclusions (such as asking if someone shaving with an electric razor is a person while doing so, as people don't have electrical parts, and concluding that most people are prominent, since most of the people it had been told about where prominent historical persons). Hampering this project is the fact that without working modal logic, needed for rigorous analysis of human language, it's ability to understand natural language is, at best, limited and imperfect.


    Robot Roll CallAndroids Are People, Too
This Index Is Highly ImprobableProbability TropesBorn Lucky
Admiring the AbominationOtherness TropesAliens and Monsters
    Idiot Programming IndexA.I. Breaker
    WebVideo/Masochists ReactionsAscended Extra
    Magical ComputerThe Alternet
Age Without YouthOlder Than FeudalismAkashic Records
Agony BeamSpeculative Fiction TropesAirborne Aircraft Carrier
Achilles' HeelImageSource/OtherAnimeland
    Cyberpunk TropesArcology
The Aggressive Drug DealerVillainsAirborne Mook

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
119079
0