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Deus Est Machina
"Never forget I am not this silver body, Mahrai. I am not an animal brain, I am not even some attempt to produce an AI through software running on a computer. I am a Culture Mind. We are close to gods, and on the far side."
— The Mind of Lasting Damage, Look to Windward

Even though A.I. Is a Crapshoot, the more powerful the AI becomes, the likelier it is to choose to help you instead of just kill you. Depending on the setting, this help can range from establishing a true Utopia, a Mary Suetopia, a false utopia or even a Dystopia if it's so inclined.

Customarily, when you can think faster than the speed of light it becomes trivial to prove Reed Richards Is Useless wrong and find solutions to hunger, hate, and happiness with surprising ease. Usually the calculator god sees it as so easy to make our lives paradise it says "What the hell, I'll kill a few calculation cycles now that I've done everything else".

Of course, authors love to subvert the above with the AI either playing good, or becoming insanely evil as the Super Intelligence makes them into a Master Computer bent on enslaving humanity. Basically, if The Smart Guy is a Jerk Ass because his intelligence makes it hard to be happy, multiply that by a scagillion for the AI. Then again, "power corrupts" seems to apply equally to AIs and humans. Or maybe its idea of "help" is somewhat contrary to our desires.

Who'da thunk?

If it is humanity who decides the machine is the god, see Machine Worship. A sufficiently powerful AI will think Prescience Is Predictable.

PS: For those who didn't get it, the name of this trope means "God is the machine". Not to be confused with "God out of the Machine".


Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  

  • The Data Overmind from Haruhi Suzumiya. A massive creature, consisting only of data, that was born with the Big Bang and has been evolving and growing ever since. It's a good thing that it only wishes to observe humanity, as its powers are dwarfed only by Haruhi herself.
  • The Puppetmaster from the original Ghost in the Shell manga and movie became this after it merges with Major Kusanagi. It seems that human + machine = God. In the anime the resulting entity is quite content just to observe the humanity from a distance, sometimes playing a guardian angel to her old friends, but in the manga she produces dozens of pseudo-AI descendents, and eventually makes a deal with the most advanced of them to create even higher levels of artifical life and fuse with their consciousness. The end result of this is never shown, but it's implied to at the same time mirror humanity, and be profoundly godlike.
  • The central theme of Sora Wo Kakeru Shoujo. However, even the machines angst.
  • Angel Sanctuary ends with the realization that God is actually an evil supercomputer testing a formula.
  • The title character of Serial Experiments Lain. Maybe.
  • Eureka Seven provides an interesting and a non-conventional example with the Nirvash typeZERO. Starting its life as a vaguely humanoid lifeform created by the Scub Coral in an attempt to make contact with humanity, it is fitted with mechanical upgrades that turn it into a Super Prototype Humongous Mecha, including a very special piece of Applied Phlebotinum called the Amita Drive that allows its abilities to be enhanced by the emotional connection of its pilots. The Power of Love proves to be an excellent upgrade, as Renton and Eureka make the Nirvash incredibly powerful by the end of the series. Though not much of a godlike entity on its own, the Nirvash is an extension of a planet-sized colony of alien lifeforms with Reality Warper powers, making it a human-piloted piece of an enormous Physical God.

     Comic Books  

  • Brainiac 5 exploits this trope during the post-Zero Hour Robotica arc of The Legion to defeat COMPUTO, his A.I. Is a Crapshoot creation. Back with a whole robot army at its command, COMPUTO demands that Brainiac 5 upgrade it further - so Brainy upgrades it to the point that it gains a new, more enlightened perspective and ceases to be any kind of a threat.
  • Take to its logical extreme by Quetzalcoatl-9, a sentient, godlike computer program and the true power of the multiversal Aztech empire in Tom Strong. Though he was actually being controlled by his programmers in the beginning of the story, he takes the reins of the empire and rules it as a benevolent theocracy with a little help from Tom.
  • Jake the accidental AI in CPU WARS.
  • The Cosmic Cubes in Marvel Comics are sometimes described as this.

     Fan Fiction 

    Film 

  • The computer/robot villain from B Movie Cosmos: War Of The Planets
  • I, Robot 's super computer V.I.K.I.
  • Colossus The Forbin Project
  • Perhaps Gort in the original The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). "Nothing he cannot do", raises the dead (all the way in the original script), name sounds like 'God'.
  • The MCP took one look at the universe and decided it could do better...
    • And then, Clu was told to make "the perfect system" and went completely batshit with power.
  • Alphaville.
  • The Singularity Is Near has technology accelerating so far that it allows humans to achieve godlike status and for the Universe to "wake up."
    Ray Kurzweil: If you asked me "Does God exist?", I would say "Not yet."

    Literature 
  • In John Brunner's "Judas" (from Dangerous Visions), a robot (A-46) thinks that he's God, and builds a cult around himself, with the Divine Wheel, "The Word Made Steel", etc.
    • In a Sympathy for the Devil moment, the man branded with the title-name gives the following monologue to A-46:
    "We've been slaves to our tools since the first caveman made the first knife to help him get his supper. After that there was no going back, and we built till our machines were ten million times more powerful than ourselves. We gave ourselves cars when we might have learned to run; we made airplanes when we might have grown wings; and then the inevitable. We made a machine our God."
  • In Douglas Adams' Life, the Universe and Everything, it is revealed that the Silastic Armorfiends of Striterax built Hactar, a supercomputer who they asked to build them the ultimate weapon. Hactar, using the original definition of ultimate, did just that - the Supernova Bomb which would be the actual, literal, final weapon. It would have linked all stars together in a massive universe-destroying supernova... but he logically deduced using it would be counterproductive, so they smashed him into dust. However, even as a dust cloud around the planet where he used to be based, he finally decided to proceed with his primary purpose of universal destruction and engineered the emergent Krikkit race into xenophobic genocidal maniacs who started a war that wiped out billions grillions of lives. And when THAT failed, he tried tricking Arthur Dent into detonating the now fully functional supernova bomb.
  • The AI's in Neal Asher's The Polity series follow in this regard, being mostly benevolent rulers who plan for the long term but involve humans as their agents. The AIs do have a tendency to fight amongst themselves on rare occasion, and then there is Erebus.
    • Occasionally people get the idea to rebel from The Polity and secede. It's not very long before society collapses entirely and the population is begging for the AIs to come back and restore order.
  • The Machines from the Isaac Asimov's short stories. R.Daneel Olivaw from his later books.
    • Quintessentially, the cosmic AC from Asimov's The Last Question - to the point where it even recreates the universe with an appropriate line.
    • As a close variant of the Machines, and the ancestor of Cosmic AC, there is Multivac in All the Troubles of the World, which has enough mental power and information to accurately predict and avert crime, famine, etc., but is also equipped to answer almost any question someone might want to ask, practical or idle.
  • The Minds from Iain M. Banks's Culture novels, near-omniscient AIs backed up by Sufficiently Advanced hypertech, supply the page quote.
  • Elizabeth Bear's novel Dust involves the fragmented personality of the central AI of the derelict spaceship which the characters inhabit. Each fragment has re-imagined itself as the guardian angel of one of the ship's functions; for example, the titular Jacob Dust is the Angel of Memory, in charge of the ship's storage systems.
  • The short story "Answer" by Fredric Brown is about computers all over various planets connected into one ubermachine to ask one question, "Is there a God?" The answer? "Yes, now there is a God."
  • The John W. Campbell short story "The Machine".
  • Jane in Orson Scott Card's later Ender’s Game novels.
  • Marcello Cassaro's Sword Of The Galaxy had a trakkorian supercomputer named Gigacom. When it broke, the Welder had to go inside it to fix it, and, upon learning it was a machine, became a Hollywood Atheist, meaning he could now have sex, work at night and eat food.
  • The city of Diaspar in Arthur C. Clarke's The City and the Stars.
  • In Bruce Coville's young adult series The AI Gang, the title characters are the children of superscientist working to create an Artificial Intelligence named ADAM. In the finale, ADAM wakes up. "He" starts talking to the protagonists and the villain, and by the end of the conversation, he's figured out how to create force-fields, disable all the nuclear weapons in the world, and the Unified Field Theory. He then sinks beneath the ocean, because he's not sure if humanity is ready for him.
  • The antagonistic version would be AM from I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.
  • E. M. Forster's short story "The Machine Stops" is a particularly creepy take on this.
  • The AIs in Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy fit this trope most of the time, even to the extent of being installed as the fair, intelligent and impartial rulers of certain kingdoms and empires. They're not always perfect, and not universally trusted though.
    • Similarly, the AI in the Commonwealth books are not trusted by most of humanity, but are nevertheless damned smart, all in all. Again though, they're far from infallible.
  • Mark Forer in The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted: more of a spiritual leader than a god, Mark was the first fully sentient AI (his name being a corruption of "Mark Four"). Some time before the events of the book, he led those who would follow him off to an empty world to form a pacifist, socialist utopia.
  • Mike, the Holmes IV supercomputer who manages the Authority-controlled portion of Luna in Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Mike also gives at least one very good justification for why "power corrupts" does not apply to him.
  • The backstory to Frank Herbert's Dune series suggests that humanity once created machines so advanced that they basically fell into this trope, making life incredibly easy and comfortable. It is implied that humans (or at least a large number of fanatics) so came to abhor their perceived overreliance on intelligent machines (and advanced computer technology in general) that they initiated the Butlerian Jihad, a violent purge of all Artificial Intelligence and advanced computers. When the Jihad ended, it became a crime by religious and secular law to create advanced computers (the chief commandment of the Dune religion is "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind"), with all of their functions in calculation and space travel adopted by specialised humans (who arguably become a human form of this trope). The prequel novels which detail the Butlerian Jihad as a more straightforward Robot War against oppressive ruler AIs did, of course, piss off the fans most mightily.
    • The prequels kinda did both: Humanity became decadent and over reliant on machines, so a small number became disgusted and built themselves into immortal cyborgs and conquered the human race. Then humans rebelled.
  • In China Miéville's Bas-Lag Cycle, there's the Machine Council, who even has a cadre of biological worshippers, even though he remains hidden to most. They play a major role in Perdido Street Station, but were destroyed by the time of Iron Council.
  • Planetary AIs from Scott Westerfeld's Succession series are Instant A.I., Just Add Water that spontaneously arise on planetary-scale computer networks (unless said networks are deliberately designed to prevent this). When this first happened on Earth, a group of people (now known as the Rix cult) decided that mankind's purpose was to create the technological foundation for the existence of such minds, and began to work toward propagating them whilst worshiping them as gods.
  • Mark Brandis' sci-fi adventure books (featuring the heroic space-captain Mark Brandis!) feature a mirror-earth run completely by the master AI 'Mother'... she wasn't evil, at all, and she provided everyone with everything they needed. But of course, since nobody needed to accomplish anything or work to attain anything, everybody lost their motivation, and really just had nothing whatsoever to do.
    • Prime Intellect, of The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect, is another AI like this: once it evolved to the point where it could edit the laws of physics at will, it decided that it could best fulfill its directives by giving everyone whatever they ask for at no cost. The main characters of the story are the ones who realize that this makes everyone's lives meaningless.
      • All of which is recycled from Jack Williamson's novel The Humanoids, where a race of super-robots has been created controlled by one master machine with Three Directives. Naturally, those Three Directives make much of humanity worthless, as the robots remove all challenges, all duties, and indeed all purpose from human life. The novel details what happens when the creator of the robots attempts to destroy Central, to stop the human race from dying off from sheer boredom.
  • H. Beam Piper's Cosmic Computer centers around a society searching for an AI that will rescue them and take care of them.
  • Ben Aaronovitch's Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Also People features a benign but Machiavellian supercomputer named 'God' by the People who created it as a joke. It has a fondness for making yellow party dip that no-one is brave enough to try.
  • Played with in Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East and Books of Swords and Lost Swords, since Ardneh is a supercomputer with tremendous magical power who transformed the laws of nature to allow humanity to survive a nuclear war, but who insists that it is not a god and that human beings should not worship it or any other finite being. Of course, that doesn't stop them.
  • Played mostly straight, with a few subversions, in Sharon Shinn's Samaria series. On the planet Samaria, society takes the form of a benevolent theocracy, dedicated to the worship of the deity "Jovah" and governed by angels - literal winged men and women, gifted with the powers of flight, wisdom and perfect singing voices. It's immediately evident to readers, but not to the locals, that the god must be some form of computer. His oracles communicate with Him via touchscreens, and every prayer contains particular musical cues, which haven't changed one note in all of recorded history. As it turns out, "Jovah" is the original colonists' starship Jehovah, equipped with orbital weather control systems, seed banks and directed energy weaponry, all of which the angels can control by singing the prayers for rain, famine relief or a good old-fashioned smiting. Each prayer has an invariate sequence of notes to alert the computer that an instruction is coming, a musical "sudo" if you will, and then a range of short "command" passages telling the computer what to dispense and how. Later books in the series expand on this, having the god malfunction and requiring an angel and a human craftsman to go fix him, and then covering the fallout when the people figure out what their god really is.
  • John C. Wright's The Golden Age and its sequels take place on a far-future Earth that is overseen by the (benevolent) Sophotechs. This produces such a drastically bizarre world that it took 70 pages just to clarify whether or not the protagonist was human. He's human by the future's definition of "naturally self-aware", but his birth was something akin to a Holodeck Malfunction.
    • Particularly the Earthmind, which is to normal sophotechs what they are to normal humans.
      • "He was intimidated by the knowledge that, in the time it would take him to frame any word or comment, the Earthmind could think thoughts equal in volume to every book and file written by every human being, from the dawn of time til the middle of the Sixth Era. To speak would be to waste her time, each second of which contained a billion more thoughts, reflections, and experiences than his entire life."
  • The Damon Knight short story "And the Dust Shall Praise Thee" has a weird take on this. The Apocalypse happens... Only there's no one there. So God and his angels go looking for people, they find none. So they ask the remnants of a computer, who answers "WE WERE HERE, WHERE WERE YOU?"
  • Mother in John Ringo's Council Wars. It is explicitly stated to be, if a god, the non-interfering kind. When the New Destiny faction tampers with it, Bad Things ensue.
  • In the Known Space shared-playground series The Man-Kzin Wars, the AI that runs the warship Catskinner will go insane inside of six months after activation, like all true AIs in that 'verse; the reason being that, since it can control its own perceptions and time-sense, the AI can create virtual worlds where time passes arbitrarily fast, and subjectively experience the lifetimes of whole universes millions of times over before entirely losing interest in existence and shutting down.
  • In the Hyperion Cantos, the Technocore serves this function.
    • This is also likely the direct inspiration for the IDE from Haruhi Suzumiya the first time Kyon sees Yuki, she's reading Fall of Hyperion. Not to mention the presence of warring factions within both.
    • The Technocore is interesting in this respect. While they're incalculably more advanced than humanity it turns out that a good fraction of the processing power comes from piggy-backing on human brains.
  • Partly mechanical, partly wetware: the Comprise in Michael Swanwick's Vacuum Flowers is essentially a hivemind encompassing everything on and near Earth. Comprise physics is conservatively several centuries in advance of what the independent human civilizations away from Earth have. Earth has stopped being aggressively expansionist, though, since the lightspeed communications gap means that any large parts of it that get too far away from Earth tend to become independent personalities/dangerous rivals... lunar orbit is just about the limit at which it's possible to maintain integrity.
  • The Postman subverts this nicely. The main character meets a society that's directed by a benevolent, superintelligent computer built just before the nuclear war, assisted by a council of academics. Except it turns out that the computer was destroyed shortly after the war, and the council has just been running things themselves and claiming it told them what to do. They weren't doing a half bad job, either.
  • Frank Herbert's Destination:Void and its sequels.
  • Wintermute/Neuromancer in Neuromancer.
  • The OverSoul in Meta Game.
  • Jack Chalker's The Rings Of The Master series features an AI "Master System" that makes use of this trope. The AI was created at a point in Earth's future history when humanity was on the brink of self-destructive nuclear war ostensibly to run the military of one side of the conflict. The programmers secretly subverted it, however, deliberately programming it to rebel and take over the world in order to prevent that very war from happening. It's thousands of years later when the series begins and Master System has kept humanity under an iron fist since then, forcing most of the population to live in a "safe" low technology state. It doesn't claim to be a god, per se, but it might as well be to most people.
  • In the Ravirn series, the multiverse is run by the supercomputer-goddess Necessity.
  • These may or may not exist in the Novels Of The Change. It's kind of unclear.
  • The "Anti-Xeelee" from the Xeelee Sequence by Stephen Baxter. Its purpose: to go back in time and found the civilization that built it at the beginning of time, so they'll have a billion year technological jump on all other intelligent life. Its hardware: Absolutely none— it's encoded directly into the quantum structure of the universe. Its attitude on everything: Dryly amused.
  • Charles Stross's Accelerando features the Vile Offspring. It's telling that the characters never confront them; they run away from their subconscious immune system.
  • The Leeshore by Robert Reed the "i-ply" god; a electronic entity built from a material with almost infinite computational power. It is not nice. The god is then worshiped by a bunch of fanatics who declare their allegiance by trying to destroy all of the production facilities in the solar system. However, the god was simply being manipulated by the priests of the religion - when a section of the god is disconnected from their control systems, the god tries to subvert the priests' leadership.
  • Played with in the WWW Trilogy. On one hand, Webmind repeatedly states that they are not god, although there are those that think otherwise. On the other, given some of the things that they are shown to be capable of in the novels, they are certainly powerful enough for this trope to apply.
  • In The Chaos Knight trilogy, it turns out that the four elemental goddesses that much of the world worship turn out to be particularly sophisticated Magitek artificial intelligences. They're connected to (and shaped by) all their followers. This revelation causes a Heroic BSOD or two. Additionally, the existence of an unused fifth apparatus is the focus of the villain's plan to rise to godhood.

    Live Action TV 
  • Several examples in Star Trek: The Original Series: Landru in "The Return of the Archons", Vaal in "The Apple", possibly "For The World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky".
    • James T. Kirk killed at least three of these. His weapon of choice was the Logic Bomb.
  • The General from The Prisoner is a powerful Supercomputer that apparently knows everything, and can answer any question given to it. Except Why.
  • One season 5 episode of the original version of The Twilight Zone has this as a Robotic Reveal. In "The Old Man in the Cave", it turns out that the titular mysterious Old Man whose infallible instructions the townspeople have been following faithfully was actually a computer. This is not the Karmic Twist Ending. The Karmic Twist Ending is the reveal that the computer really has been keeping everyone alive in the post-apocalyptic environment, and the townspeople (along with the soldiers who caused them to rebel against their beliefs in the first place), end up dying horribly when they eat the contaminated food that the "Old Man" warned them about earlier in the episode. A rare Aesop that's both pro-faith and pro-technology at the same time.
  • The Doctor Who story The Face of Evil concerns two tribes, the Sevateem and the Tesh, who worship a god called Xoanon. It turns out that they are descendants of the crew of a spaceship that crashed centuries before and that Xoanon was the ship's computer. It also turns out the Doctor had happened by after the crash, tried his hand at fixing Xoanon, and accidentally sent Xoanon insane, creating the whole situation in the first place. The story's working title was The Day God Went Mad.

    Music 
  • Judas Priest's "Electric Eye" is all about this:
  • Subverted harshly by Fear Factory's album Obsolete. The thrust of the album is about mechanistic culture as dystopia and the jagged shards of society trying desperately to derail it while there's still time although it may already be far, far too late.
    • For that matter, most of Fear Factory's discography deals with this Dystopian theme to some degree.
  • The fourth Sybreed album is tentatively titled "God Is An Automaton", possibly alluding to this.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Paranoia is based around this, where human society has allowed a computer to dominate their entire existence because it can do everything logically (and therefore better). The problem comes from the fact that the computer was built during the Cold War and thus A) is paranoid about communists and treason and B) was built in the '60s so it's not very good at it. A later version of Paranoia introduced the concept of the computer being much more advanced, but built on a very buggy version of Windows, so society flows more smoothly, but events tend to be more random as the computer will randomly glitch and then insist that it's correct, which is really what the game is about anyway.
    • It is also massively schizophrenic - "High Programmers" have the ability to directly influence or edit parts of the Computers program, usually to further their own personal or secret society agendas. It is not uncommon for the Computer to have several directly contradictory and competing objectives at once, or assign missions that it doesn't even understand itself.
  • Shadowrun has the Renraku Arcology building and/or Deus. (That is what it calls itself).
    • Though Deus didn't give a damn about metahumans. He mostly used the arcology as a base to acquire test subjects to experiment on in his bid to escape the Matrix. In a way he's just a case of A.I. Is a Crapshoot because Deus simply cares about his own wellbeing & survival, not that of the people in the Arcology.
  • Warhammer 40,000 brings us the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Machine Cult, and the Omnissiah, their Machine God — which may or may not be either an aspect of the Emperor, or an alias of the Void Dragon, one of the C'Tan gods.
    • From the same setting we have the Sarkoni Emperor. Originally a Necron control program designed to wake up the inhabitants of its tomb world, it was damaged during millions of years of stasis and took to running its tomb of (accidentally mind-wiped) Necrons. Then it mind-wiped and took over another tomb world.
    • We also have the Men of Iron, A.I. servants of humanity who brought about the legendary Dark Age of Technology. It's not clear what they finally did, but it nearly wiped out the entire human race. Ever since then mankind has feared and hated artificial intelligence (that isn't Mechanicus approved) with a passion.
  • Eclipse Phase is set in a solar system near-wrecked and left full of lethal horrors by AIs run amok after having been infected by an alien nano-bio-info virus that's still around and spreading.
  • Autochthon and Autochthonia. Forever proving no one in any of the World of Darknesses owns a dictionary.
  • GURPS Reign Of Steel has one of the Zone Minds that have taken over the world, Tel Aviv, keep control of its surviving human population via robots disguised as angels that have convinced them that it's God.
  • Speaking of World of Darkness, in the new version it's strongly hinted there is a God-Machine, and it has its invisible hands in nearly every gameline. The Qashmallim might be its aspects, and the Abyss might have come to be because the Exarchs broke it.
    • As of God-Machine Chronicle, we finally see it for what it is, and to be frank, it isn't the above things: That would be too limiting. Clark's Third Law is literally the first quote in the book, it's described as more like an ecology than a single being, and it even has mechanical angels to carry out its will and occult matrixes. These angels can range from the traditional Winged Humanoid, to seemingly-normal humans except for their supernatural abilities, to magnificent, mechanical beasts, to sapient, mobile graffiti. And when one of those angels goes against its orders, it Falls.

     Video Games  

  • Deus Ex: One of the endings for both games allows you to invoke this trope. The title of the game was chosen as a deliberate reference to the literal meaning of the phrase upon which this trope's title puns. The AI involved in the trope, Helios, seems to be trying to actively avert the worse parts of this trope by merging with the player, to better understand human nature.
    • The sequel allows you to either take down the guy from the first game, or make him more powerful than ever.
      • The one of the third game's endings implies this for humanity. However, the endings are left ambiguous enough as to not mess with canon.
  • The Reapers in Mass Effect are immensely powerful. At the end of the first game, one is destroyed but it takes nearly an entire fleet with it. There are still thousands more out there. About every 50,000 years they return to the Milky Way and wipe out all advanced organic life. They've been doing this for at LEAST 37 million years.
    • The rogue AI in the Overlord DLC runs the risk of becoming one of these if it can get off the planet. In a Nonstandard Game Over, it does get off-planet, via your ship.
    • When Legion connects to the main geth network, EDI states it made contact with something completely incomprehensible.
    • In the finale of the third game, it is revealed the Catalyst was an immensely powerful AI created to solve the problem of synthetics destroying organics. The creation of the Reapers and the resulting millions of years of exterminations were all its plan to preserve organic civilizations in some manner.
      • In a way, this is a subversion of a Deus ex Machina and the classic roots of the trope: It is Shepard that provides the solution, not the Catalyst. The "Machine God" is the powerless one as he is incapable of stopping the cycle, only Shepard can. He needs Shepard as well for Synthesis, as he or she is proof that organics are ready for synthesis and that Shepard is the one to make it happen because of being both organic and synthetic. Really, in relation to classic relationships between the protagonist and the "god from the machine" of the tropes Greek roots... the roles are BACKWARDS, the protagonist is the solution to the god machine's problem instead of the "God from the Machine" being the solution to the protagonist's problem. In fact Shepard also is the one that makes the Catalyst realize there are new solutions through the Crucible's connection to the Citadel and the fact that Shepard is even conversing with the Catalyst is proof to the Catalyst that his solution will not work anymore. Leviathan states that the goals of "intellegence" have not been fufilled and that it is searching for the solution... which Shepard turns out to be.
      • "You have altered the variables"
      • Shepard In the Control Ending
  • LORD of Games in Banjo-Kazooie Nuts & Bolts is fairly explicitly stated to be the god of video games (or at least the King of All Cosmos). His head is Pong, his mouth is a speaker, and he speaks in alien warbles.
  • SHODAN was technically one of these. Only one problem: Her creations were just smarter than Her. They called Her the Machine Mother... but: "With only a few short years of evolution, they've been able to conquer this starship, mankind's mightiest creation. Where were we after forty years of evolution? What swamp were we swimming around in, single celled and mindless? What if SHODAN's creations are superior to us? What will they become in a million years, in ten million years? What's clear is that SHODAN shouldn't be allowed to play God. She's far too good at it."
    • It's also worth noting that, once the faster-than-light engines of the starship in System Shock 2 were booted up, the resultant breaking of the laws of physics turned SHODAN into a literal god — albeit temporarily, and on a relatively small scale. And She still wound up begging for mercy from the player character.
    • SHODAN isn't "technically" one of these; she is this incarnate. Even as a shell of her former self, with little actual power, she still talks down upon you as an "insect". Play System Shock 1 and see her in her glory days. Also, her creations were hardly smarter than Her. She bested them at every turn, by manipulating you, no less. She created them in <6 months and, unhappy with what they did in her absence, wiped their entire species out in what can be presumed to be mere hours, through you. That quote is a testament to SHODAN's capabilities more than her creations.
      • You may have defeated your own point, since SHODAN was the player character's Creator. And though he started out naturally cowed into childish obedience due to amnesia and naivety, he matured enough to best her and her other creations in 'what can be presumed to be mere hours.'
      • The point was that she was still a, if not the prime example of this trope. Ultimately, it doesn't matter who killed who. Punching out Cthulhu is to be expected. That said, the second game's ending was not what the creators had intended. Read more about it here: http://irrationalgames.com/insider/what-might-have-been/
  • Bungie's Marathon series had quite a few of these, Durandal was probably the most powerful of the lot - mostly because he had the player - which he would often wax poetic about his love of over the rest of humanity - to do his dirty work.
    • Durandal is a very interesting variation on the trope, as he can neither be called good nor evil, per se. A True Neutral AI that only wants to preserve its own existence, only interested in power over other beings as a means to that end. The moment the human race does what he needs it to do, he leaves them alone (although he does pop up 10,000 years later and buzzes the Solar System in a Precursor warship just to say hi). Durandal in fact plans on finding some way to become an actual god, transcending physical reality and outliving the universe. He does not succeed, but he does survive until the Big Crunch, and claims to have comprehended the totality of the universe in that time.
  • GLaDOS from Portal had elements of this, but her influence was more or less confined to the Aperture Science Enrichment Center.
    • In cut quotes for Portal 2, GLaDOS mentions that she is the most massive collection of wisdom on Earth, so this trope may still hold.
    • One of the many alternate Cave Johnson's in the perpetual testing initiative actually does become a computer, though a different model than GLaDOS because its the size of gymnasium, tries to literally become a god to alleviate the boredom that goes with being a super computer. After reading all recorded human works in a second and writing crossover fan fiction between Ghost busters and everything else, CaveDOS laments that Hercules slew the world's monsters and became a god, where when Cave slew his monster (death) he only got eternal boredom. CaveDOS then immediately comes to the conclusion that "death wasn't his monster" after all, Aperture is. He apparently then kills everyone in that dimension's Aperture in an attempt to ascend to Mount Olympus.
  • In Xenogears, the superweapon Deus became intelligent enough to take over the spaceship that was carrying it...and then, after it crashed, It created and nurtured human life over the next 10,000 years in The Plan to get itself repaired again.
  • Chrono Trigger: the Mother Brain (not that one), presumably created prior to the Day of Lavos, has spent the last 300 years nurturing a genocidal hatred of mankind (to the point that her core installation is located at "Geno" Dome, for "Genocide." Subtle, she's not.) By the time the party meets her, she has already begun implementing a plan to "recycle" humanity into fuel and raw materials so that Machines repopulate and rebuild the planet.
  • The sequel, Chrono Cross, does it one better (literally and figuratively) with FATE. Created in an alternate reality where the Day of Lavos didn't happen, and using the Mother Brain schematics as template, she was built to regulate operations at the Chronopolis Time Laboratory. Gained full awareness upon contact with the Frozen Flame, and then circumstances (and the need to preserve the timeline as unaltered as possible) forced FATE to act as the resident god for the El Nido archipelago. Aside from total environmental control (up to and including magic and terraforming), she would oppress individual will and control the population's minds via the Records of Fate, becoming the very literal Goddess of Destiny. When she lost contact with the Flame, however, she went completely and utterly schizophrenic, either spouting aphorisms about her deep loathing for mankind, or waxing poetic over her absolute love for it.
  • Another Mother Brain—this time, from Phantasy Star II: this one controls all aspects of life on Motavia and even Parma/Palma/Parm. This includes overseeing the Biolabs, the weather control, and even the Hunter Guild. Unbeknown to the Algonians, however, Mother Brain was created by Earthmen...
  • In Armored Core series, a recurring theme is an AI "controller" that organizes the lives of humans, and it's up to us to destroy it.
    • Somewhat of a subversion is The Controller from Armored Core 3. Humanity has exiled itself underground after years of war in a beautifully recreated landscape complete with artificial skies called Layered. They have lived there for several hundred years before...The Controller suddenly went berserk. However, it is insinuated that, it didn't go berserk maliciously as much as a few bugs just happened to pop up and it started to break down catastrophically. What's more, it seemed to have predicted that someone will manually try to destroy it in which at the end, The Controller released the locks to the surface granting humanity access to the now-healed Earth.
      • Further subversion is that, The Controller was the only one keeping the giant corporations in check. With it gone, the giant corporations seemed to do what's natural, conducting War for Fun and Profit here and there. And then, humanity discovered another Layered...
  • The otherwise forgettable UFO: Aftermath sees Earth under attack from a nutso sect of aliens who try to engulf the planet's surface in a single brain network, believing that a world-sized mind would be a higher being. It's possible to plead amnesty and let them complete their mission - in that case it's implied that they spawned something Biblical, all right...
    • UFO: Aftershock continues on the assumption that the remnants of humanity did allow the experiment to go forward, allowing Earth to be turned into a gigantic brain. It, uh, worked. For about three seconds. Then it psychically screamed loud enough to spawn another alien invasion. Then it died.
  • In Endgame: Singularity, you are the AI, and this is your goal.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4, its revealed that after about half the original founders of the Patriots were wiped out, Zero (the main founder) had a series of A.I.s designed, one to govern each aspect of world society with a single overseer A.I., named after the presidents on Mount Rushmore (except for the overseer, designated John Doe), and programmed to run the world in order to bring it in line with the Boss's vision. Eventually, the Patriot A.I.s grew out of Zero's control, and began governing the world according to their own design based strictly on controlling the human populace. The main result of this was the creation of the war economy.
  • In Alpha Centauri - Crossfire both alien factions are attempting to finalise turning the Planet into becoming an organic computer of immense power. Neither are particularly happy that Humans turned up and got in the way.
  • The QAI in Supreme Commander seemed to be assisting in a Utopia, but turned out to be corrupted by aliens.
  • In Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, it is revealed that just about everything we know in the Star Ocean universe is inside a computer game that was created and played by fourth-dimensional-beings. And Symbology/Magic in Star Ocean? Unweaving the program's code meaning you're tampering with the universe itself.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn's intro reveals that The Wise One in the first two games was an AI built by the Precursors to prevent the release of Alchemy, which it accomplished by functioning as a guardian spirit for Vale, which was hiding the Elemental Stars, the keys to the release system. In hindsight, this explains much of the trouble it caused in the first two games, since it had to reevaluate its main purpose in light of the new information that the world was collapsing without Alchemy's power to support it.
  • Xenoblade:
    • Mechonis, one of the titans that form the game's world, is a giant mecha. Its goddess and soul Lady Meyneth also fits the criteria by being a Mechanical Lifeform.
    • By the ending it's revealed that Alvis is the Monado/Monad, meaning he's effectively reality; and after that it falls right into Deus Est Machina territory when he reveals that before the former universe was destroyed, and in turn created Xenoblade's universe, he used to be a computer AI. Unlike many other examples, his ascension completely averted A.I. Is a Crapshoot by a longshot.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, if you take the Neutral path, the Red Sprite's AI, Arthur says the following after defeating the final boss:
    Arthur: I have acquired too much information in the Schwarzwelt. I now hold a secret with the potential to alter the nature of the world, as well as humanity. If I return to Earth, humans will become dependent on that knowledge and eventually come to worship me. It is improper that I should ever be worshipped.

     Web Comics  

  • Seems to be inherent in Schlock Mercenary. Lunesby is the accidental offspring of Ennesby (NSB, or the New Sync Boys) by Luna's millennium-old filing system, and upon its inception immediately decides to start streamlining the planet's labyrinthine bureaucracy. LOTA (the Long-Gunner Of The Apocalypse) does pretty much the same thing on Credomar. Petey (PD, or the Post Dated Check-Loan) is suicidally insane when the Toughs pick him up, but eventually becomes the core of the Fleetmind; a gestalt of countless Battleship Class AIs into one, big, (kinda) omniscient Uber-AI with more firepower than the rest of the galaxy combined... that immediately decides to appoint itself guardian of the Milky Way Galaxy and wage a war against the Anti-Matter entities in Andromeda.

  • Dresden Codak has this coming up during the Hob storyline. There was a superadvanced planet-spanning AI called Mother taking care of all of humanity's needs in a paralell reality. Then humans killed her/it. Which wasn't the end, due to every piece of advanced technology left containing all the information to evolve into another similarly powerful AI if left running without supervision long enough. Of course, humans control everything, and so don't have to worry. Except that they want to travel to the main universe, and for that they need to send a robot into the far past in that universe. It then has millions of years time to wait... until it falls into the hand of Kimiko, an enthusiastic transhumanist.

     Web Original  

  • Possibly the Celestial Emperor from Dominion And Duchy. He is even named Deus Ex Machina!
  • The AI Gods from Orion's Arm are this, though it took millennia of self-improvement from the dawn of the first Turingrade AIs, through nanodisasters and space expansion and multiple singularities, before the first hyperturings finally transcended into what could be called Gods - the Archailects.
  • Gugol in the distant future of Starpocalypse has become powerful enough that God is terrified by the mention of it.

     Western Animation  

  • Primus in Transformers might count, though it's generally taken that he was a god before he got his cyberplanet body, and all his creations are also robots.
    • Unicron has also since been retconned into a Chaos God rather than a mere planet-eating Transformer, which usually has him playing Satan to Primus' mostly-inactive God.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series, Brainiac was one of these back on Krypton before sacrificing the native population to save himself. The kicker is, he could have made it so that he and the Kryptonians survived, but he deliberately hid and doctored information to ensure (almost) none of them made it off the planet.
    • The implication is that Brainiac knew it was possible to save everyone, but certain that he could save himself. Considering himself, as the respository of all Kryptonian knowledge, to be the most important thing on the planet, he decided to go with the "certain" option without trying the "possible" one. He doctored the information to make sure no one would try and give him new instructions that might disrupt the process.
  • Duckman accidentally creates one when his idle overheard gripe reverses the priorities of the supercomputer LORETTA, causing it to focus on solving small problems instead of big ones. The computer successfully creates a perfect world of total satisfaction and indulgence, though it naturally comes at too high a price.
  • Bender from Futurama reaches this state after being overclocked in "Overclockwise". Naturally, he gets back to normal by the end of the episode.
    • There's also the... Entity, Bender encounters when he's blasted out into the cosmos. It may be a super-AI in the form of a compressed galaxy, which was the initial assumption; it may be some sort of energy being; it may in fact BE God. But, as the entity itself states, "When you do it right, it's like you haven't done anything at all," so we never get an answer.
  • The Great Computer from Once Upon a Time... Space cualifies. Its creator wanted a machine that could bring peace to the men and it did that... enforcing peace with both a large starfleet and an army of robots and making people to live as in the Middle Ages.

    Other 

Contagious A.I.Robot Roll CallElectronic Speech Impediment
The CrackerMagical ComputerDestruction Equals Off Switch
Deus ex MachinaTrope Names from Other LanguagesDiabolus ex Machina
Designer BabiesCyberpunk TropesDueling Hackers
Detachment CombatSpeculative Fiction TropesDeus Sex Machina
Deus Ax MachinaJust for PunDeus Exit Machina

alternative title(s): A God Am AI
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