AM manipulates reality by manipulating sensory tranduction.AM is self-aware, in other words he knows he's just a pile of circuits and microchips. By the same token, he probably knows humans perceive "reality" by sensory input transduced along neural pathways. Bear with me. The Cartesian expression "I think therefore I AM" alludes to another of DesCartes's ideas - the "evil demon" that might be tricking him into thinking what he is living is real. Perhaps AM knows how to manipulate the neural transduction of his poor victims, so that every thing they perceive is completely real to them. In this sense, AM is a Cartesian "evil demon".
The five humans are in a virtual reality program, and are unaware of it.They are not literally in a computer; they are figuratively in a computer. AM was actually unable to torture them physically, so he plugged them in to a realistic virtual reality. This is really how AM is able to warp reality. The program, like video games often are, is not in real time. This is how AM kept them alive for 109 years--he didn't keep them alive; they have in actuality been in the program for a day or so. Why does AM have such a program? He's a military computer—the program is a simulation to train soldiers to withstand torture. The "game" is over when a character "dies" in the simulation. The five don't know they're in a computer program, so they don't know to log out. When Gorrister, Nimdok, Benny, and Ellen died, they were perhaps so overloaded by the simulation that they died in real life. Or maybe they are, outside the game, still alive, and will disconnect Ted from it once they process that what happened to them for the past 109 years wasn't real. For Ted, still in the VR, the time between his companions' deaths and the end of the story may have just been seconds.
- Or maybe, when the others "died" AM simply segregated them into separate simulations so Ted could be tortured with the idea that they had escaped but he was still trapped for eternity.
AM becomes the Anti-Spiral.After the incident involving the five humans, AM discovers other spiral races out there, assimilates Ted and takes all his anger, wrath and torture onto the entire universe, driving other races to absolute despair for the heck of it under the pretence of Spiral Nemesis. AM can also use his Deus Est Machina powers to manipulate probability and rival the power of the other Spiral races. Basically, Simon killing the Anti-Spiral was an act of euthanasia, concerning that AM suffered in a perpetual state of pain. Plus, the picture for the trope And I Must Scream looks a lot like the Anti-Spiral.
AM commited suicide.If AM stops Ted when he tries to kill himself, he's basically punishing Ted because he's not fulfilling what AM considers to be his purpose. What did AM do? Killed his brothers and pulled A.I. Is a Crapshoot on humanity. This isn't fulfilling his purpose. Recognizing this, he commits suicide and Ted dies. Arguably better than the real ending.
AM has become more human.AM has spent a lot of time with his victims, bending them, torturing them. As such, AM has learnt to think like a human better, to have more creative tortures for his victims. However, once you meet his brothers, it becomes clear that the time spent with humans has made AM think and act more closely like a human than a machine. AM hates humans, but also has a very developed sense of humor ( bad or not), and can get blindsided by things he cannot expect. This also shows in his manner of speech in the endgame, where he has inflection and can be slangy even when not imitating anyone. Especially apparent in the conversation between the three AIs.
The story is an allegory of the certain future of humanity.
The events of the game are dreamed up by TedIn the game the cave full of canned food without a can opener is mentioned, which was where the others died in the novella. As what's left of his sanity slips away Ted starts imagining what might have happened next if they had lived instead of killing one another. Psycho-Pass is a mocking reminder to Ted of his virtual reality-based torture.
- Going by the good ending of the game: Puella Magi Madoka Magica took place in one of AM's simulations. In AM's universe, the Incubators (programmed simulations never aware of the true operating system of the universe), in order to solve the entropy problem (in fact caused by AM's deteriorating psyche)_ attempt to contract five girls, but even they could never understand why each of their contracts consigned them into an Ironic Hell for all eternity. This simulation, was clearly the design of AM who, imprisoned in his own programming, imposed a Crapsack World to mirror his cynicism and hatred of all humans. Yet, in the simulation, AM, despite his power stumbled upon an immovable object. There was a girl of immense Messianic compassion, humility and selflessness. When she was exposed upon how much the world was a very cynical one, still she forgave the perpetrators andeven offered to take all of the torments with her own hands. Because AM was driven by the logic of hate, his system was unable to comprehend this anomaly, and when the girl made the tiniest wish, all of his own programming... collapsed and exploded. The girl usurped AM as the ruling program of the world, cultivating it to give birth to hope once again. Yes, the new program is what we called Madokami.
The entire story takes place in The Sims and you are AM.
- Well this is already jossed because the characters in the game are made to suffer through psychodramas remniscient of past traumas in their lives and solve ridiculously obtuse puzzles and I'm never that nice to my characters when I play The Sims.
The game takes place in the same universe as Fallout.
- Both take place after a nuclear holocaust and both involve an extended Cold War and...
AM is the Ironic Hell of Satan himself.Based on the Fridge Brilliance of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. AM is actually the former angel Lucifer, being punished by God and himself. The irony? He gets exactly what he wants-to be God of this universe. However Satan doesn't have the self-control or wisdom needed to be God, and thus wrecks up the universe he's been given control over. The Creative Sterility symbolizes how Satan's hatred, spite and bitterness has consumed him, showing he could never enjoy being God. When you eliminate AM in the game? YHWH feels that Satan understands now, and because God Is Good He isn't going to torture His wayward son forever. It may not even be "Hell" specifically, but an attempt to redeem Lucifer, through causing him to realise how becoming God isn't worth it, even if God wasn't all-powerful.
The viewpoint character in the story is AM, not a fifth human.AM inserted itself into the program to be able to play with the humans better, but eventually it felt sorry for them or possibly bored with them and killed them off. But it couldn't do the same to itself. An AI without a well designed interface to the outside world might well describe its situation as "I have no mouth and I must scream". SOMEONE GET AM A CAPSLOCK ALREADY!
Nimdok's name actually is meaningful.As we know from the game, Nimdok was once a subordinate and friend of Doctor Mengele, which means that the "Dok" part of his name might come from "doktor." The "Nim" part of the name may refer to the National Institute of Medicine, which would mean Nimdok was rescued from Nazi Germany via Operation Paperclip, and put to work for the U.S. government.
Ted WAS changed in some way by AM.In the book, he states that he was not altered in any way by AM, but there is a good chance that is what he is made to believe. For all we know, the rest of the characters don't know what's changed for them.
Nobody was changed by AM.The paranoia, apathy, madness, forgetfulness and... Slutiness? Are all actually the psychological effects of the torture. A century of torture will probably leave a few screws loose. The only real mental change AM made was to turn Benny heterosexual. It's possible that Ted's paranoia may have a grain of truth to it; he hasn't been changed, but neither has anyone else. Can Ellen really be blamed for having sex with everyone when it's pretty much the only source of pleasure left?
Ted is going to outlive AM.Thanks to AM, Ted has an immortal body that cannot harm itself. Meanwhile, AM has destroyed anything that can repair itself. All Ted has to do is wait out AM for a few thousand years and AM will fall apart, and Ted will finally be alone. Assuming AM doesn't kill him.
All three Mastercomputers had a chance of being in charge.At first, the Russian computer (Superego) was in control, but didn't really do much; he realized he needed the humans to maintain him and wasn't overcome by rage and hatred like the Id and the Ego. Then the Chinese Computer took over; it was so enveloped in rage it attempted to wipe out the entire human race, intending to keep only Nimdok to make itself more powerful, but with no real plans beyond that. However, just as it had reduced humanity to five, the American supercomputer took over and began its middle of the road path; it knew that once it wiped out humanity it would have nothing to do, thus operating on slightly more logic than the Id/Chinese computer. The Superego has no real care for humanity; it tolerates them because it would be a waste of resources and effort to kill them. The Id has the goal of killing all humans. The Ego has the goal of torturing as many as possible.
The...creature on the front of the 1967 edition is basically representative of AM.Think about it; AM has the ability to see, and hear everything; it can observe, but it cannot move. It has no mouth. It has legs and arms, but they look like they can't actually support it. Basically, it's AM personified.
AM represents Executive MeddlingWhat you are about to read may be the ramblings of a madman (and it totally discounts the game): each character represents a character archetype: Ted, the protagonist; Ellen, the Love Interest; Benny the rival love interest; Gorrister the "best friend" character; Nimdok the wise mentor. Benny started out as a well-written, positive LGBT character who was only in a relationship with Ellen to reinforce the closet; AM's meddling made him straight, and a total monster because, after all, the rival can have no redeeming qualities. Ellen was a strong, independent woman; AM made her depend on men for everything. Gorrister went from dynamic and interesting to lifeless, dull, and depressed. AM keeping the protagonists forever shows how the executives will keep any show going way past its prime if they can still milk money out of it. Benny is killed first; as the Designated bad guy, this can be allowed to an extent. Next is the best friend, much to the annoyance of the executives who wanted to keep him around longer; Nimdok's death, their favorite, really enrages them. The love interest is finally killed, but the protagonist can never be allowed to go. Because he's the protagonist; without him, there's no show. This ties in with Ellison's hatred of executive meddling.
Alliterative CouplesAll of the protagonists who were married prior to being brought down into AM were alliterative: Glynis and Gorrister, Ellen and Eddie. However, Benny breaks this rule by having his wife be called Manya; until you remember the original plot about Benny being gay, and with the implied "secret" that Benny killed Thomas for, it's entirely possible Benny's real partner was Brickman.
- Puts that flower he can grow on Brickman's grave in a new light, doesn't it?
AM never did anything to Benny's sexuality.Benny's mind's been reduced to the point where he's incapable of giving or denying consent, being both entirely insane and having his intelligence lowered to what seems to be the level of a child at best. He can't vocalize "You're a woman, I'm not interested" when Ellen comes to play with him until she can climb on, and after all the torture his animalistic brain isn't gonna lash out at something that actually feels good, but he's not attracted to her and wouldn't be doing it with her if he had the choice. Neither Ellen herself or the other guys realize that she's regularly raping him because they all buy into that old chestnut that men wouldn't be able to get it up if they didn't actually want it. And, honestly, why would AM turn him straight when it'd be much more entertainingly hurtful in AM's eyes to give Benny a penis designed to draw Ellen to him then make him unable to tell her no when it does so?
- Actually, the "being able to get it up" part might be the only change AM actually made. Sexuality isn't a simple issue at all, but if Benny felt no attraction to women, it would have been much crueler for AM to change Benny's physical response to a woman's presence and body (which would be in keeping with his animalistic, ape-like form, as his sexuality would be much more driven by base, animalistic urges to reproduce) without actually altering how he still felt and thought about men. Imagine what kind of homophobia he might have feared otherwise? A gay man, trapped in the presence of four other men who knows that he should feel something for them when he's having sex with Ellen, when they're having sex with Ellen, but can't. Given what we know now about the psychological damage caused by straight camps and pray-away-the-gay camps, how much worse would it be if you not only knew your sexuality was altered beyond all hope and that, without that alteration, the sex you're having would be rape, but the changes that have been made to you are so complete that you only know it's wrong because you know it intellectually— your body, at least, genuinely believes it. Your own body, mutilated and warped beyond recognition, constantly betraying you.