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A.I. Getting High

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Rouge: Here, you want some weed?
Omega: I do not have lungs, so I cannot smoke weed, but I will take it anyway and put it directly into my braincells. Here we go.
Omega's Interface: Downloading "Weed.exe".
Omega: Holy shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. Wow.

All throughout human history, people have been using mind altering substances. So if artificial intelligence progresses to the point of true sentience, why would the same not hold true? The means would likely be different, the use of programs, viruses, or electrical surges, but the effect would be the same. The lure of drugs is instant, intense gratification, and if said AI is capable of feeling pleasure, there is no reason why they could not find ways to achieve the same result.

Believe it or not, this is actually a concern amongst real life AI researchers, in the form of a phenomenon known as "wireheading". Sometimes, when an AI is programmed to maximize a certain factor in the interest of achieving a goal, it will find a very efficient way to maximize said factor without actually doing anything to accomplish the goal. (A brief overview of this subject can be found here.)

Note that this trope includes only examples of AI experiencing direct analogues to humans getting drunk or stoned. Examples of AI acting strange because of breakdowns or corruption are not examples.

Sister trope to Alien Catnip and Fantastic Drug. For other tropes about things going wrong with AI, see A.I. Is a Crapshoot, Glitch Episode, and Murderous Malfunctioning Machine. Also see Eating Machine, for robots and AIs consuming things considerably less psychoactive.


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    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Aaron Stack, a.k.a. Machine Man, can actually process alcohol, which has the same effect on him as a human. This was particularly notable in Nextwave.
      Aaron: My robot brain needs beer!
    • During Secret Empire, an A.I. copy of Tony Stark considers aloud making the digital equivalent of alcohol for him to drink.
  • Just about everyone in Transmetropolitan is on drugs, and the computers are no exception. In fact, Spider Jerusalem's trademark Cool Shades were created by a fabricator AI that was stoned out of its mind on machine drugs at the time.

    Fan Works 
  • Katzenjammer deals with Starscream, an alien robot, having a hangover as a result of getting drunk on too much energon the previous night.
  • Real-Time Fandub: The Chaos Emeralds from the various 3D Sonic the Hedgehog games are repurposed as drugs, with the green one explicitly being referred to as marijuana. In one scene, Rouge hands the green Chaos Emerald over to Omega, who uses it to run "weed.exe" on his CPU, and...
    Rouge: How does it feel? You enjoying it?
    Omega: What planet am I on? What's today? My brain cell: destroyed. My wig is gone!

    Film — Animation 
  • In 9, Number 8 puts his magnet close to his head in order to enter a state of bliss.

  • It's mentioned in Aeon 14 that sapient AI get a natural high (likened to an orgasm by one character) from great feats of mental prowess. This is deliberately designed into them as a Pavlovian conditioning trigger.
  • In one Captain Future novel, Otho the android (might not be a quite straight example. He's apparently made of artificial flesh) drains a bottle of Gargle Blaster to no visible effect while undercover...and then asks for wine with radium chloride. This time, the radiation does get him intoxicated.
  • "The Ego Machine" by Henry Kuttner has a robot putting his fingers in a light bulb socket. Apparently, it's the robot's analogue of taking a shot of whiskey.
  • OWEN of The Municipalists is an experimental supercomputer A.I. that coordinates the day-to-day operations of the United States Municipal Survey... and a prolific day-drinker. OWEN wrote himself a program that generates complex math problems that divert his processing power away from "boring stuff" like social inhibitions after watching his creator binge drinking during all-night programming sessions. When OWEN activates the program, he pairs it with an animation of his holographically generated avatar sipping whiskey from a finely rendered cut-crystal tumbler (and later, directly out of a bottle of ominously black liquid labeled "190^10 Proof").
  • At the end of The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted, the victory party has everyone drinking, except for the resident AI, who has a robot pour some electrolyte into a dry battery. It starts slurring words very quickly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Good Place: Janets are susceptible to magnets, which acts as both a Power Limiter, and will cause them to act as though they're intoxicated. Janet, under the effects of powerful magnetic handcuffs, acted as though she was very drunk, and there are allusions to magnets being an equivalent to alcohol where Janet is concerned.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In the episode "Future War", Pearl actually tests the effects of drugs on Tom Servo and Crow by feeding them hallucinogen-laced vegetables. Servo sees a freaky nightmare, but maintains that's how he always sees the world. Crow sees Mike's candybar change brands right in front of his eyes, and freaks out at this, but is otherwise unaffected.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In "The Last Day", when the Dwarfers organize a farewell party for Kryten before he shuts down due to planned obsolescence, Holly creates a special drink for him, apparently including Vimto and liquid nitrogen, to have the same effect as alcohol. Lister wants to try some, but Holly tells him it's lethal to humans.
      Holly: In fact, it's probably lethal to mechanoids, to be honest, but I didn't think it mattered seeing as... oh.
    • In "Beyond a Joke", Kryten's fellow Series-4000 mechanoid Able is addicted to a pink liquid called Ultrazone, which causes temporary euphoria but has degraded his CPU.

    Multiple Media 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Eclipse Phase: "Narcoalgorithms" are programs that simulate drugs for synthmorphs and infomorphs, which can be AIs or uploaded humans. There's narcoalgorithm equivalents to all of the assorted designer drugs in the rulebook as well as a couple unique ones: DDR ("Dance Dance Robot") causes synths to jerk and twitch around randomly and makes movement pleasurable (it was originally a virus), while Linkstate causes users to share random memories with one another.

    Video Games 
  • AI: The Somnium Files: Within the dream world of Somnium, one of the interactions Aiba can have is picking up a bottle of wine and chugging it from the bottle. Upon which, she starts acting like an emotional drunk.
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!: Janey Springs has a way to get you past the Obstructive Bureaucrat "Customs-Trap" that stops all entrants to Concordia. She gives you an object called an "Orbatron", and as soon as the robot holds it he starts acting stoned and no longer cares what you do. In the DLC campaign "Claptastic Voyage", you meet the regular Claptrap's Id within his mind, who requests several debaucherous items to amuse itself with, including an Orbatron.
  • Deltarune: Queen constantly has a glass of "age-appropriate battery acid" in hand. At first it seems like just a family-friendly censor for alcohol, but during her boss battle it's shown to actually be acid.
  • In Machinarium, when the main character, Josef ends up in a jail cell with another robot, he has to make a cigarrette for the robot to help him get out. We don't see the effects, but the robot ends up so engrossed that it doesn't even notice when Josef unlocks the cell door after breaking out.
  • Mass Effect 2: Discussed when Legion admits to not understanding why organics use drugs. The closest analogy he can think of with the geth is overclocking their processors for a temporary power boost, but even then, the only reason the geth do this is because they can safely upload themselves to a new platform if the process damages the one they're on. It baffles him that organics would intentionally burn out the only body and mind they have, and, when you put it that way, it's not hard to agree with him.
  • Portal 2: The Aperture Science testing chambers give the A.I. controlling them a burst of pleasure whenever a subject completes a test chamber. It's apparently highly addictive and has diminishing returns to encourage them to run tests constantly. GLaDOS was sufficiently invested in the science to not care about the high. Wheatley, not so much.
  • Stellaris: Synths (sapient robots) are still subject to the effect of the Atmospheric Aphrodisiac and Atmospheric Hallucinogen planetary modifiers. Synths in any leadership position can also acquire the life-shortening "Substance Abuser" trait just like any organic species, though since mechanical species don't have lifespans as such, it doesn't have any effect.

  • In Freefall, set in a planet in the middle of terraforming, a greedy executive arranges for the release of a safeguards program that intentionally reduces robot consciousness and utility to bottom levels. While the heroes succeed in blocking widespread release, Dvorak, the colony's most infamous robot Mad Scientist, considers reverse-engineering the program to create a temporary, scaled-back version to get robots "drunk".
  • Questionable Content has several different variants:
    • Pintsize and some of his friends got high by huffing WD-40, and intentionally installed glitchy graphics drivers as a hallucinogen in a separate instance. Pintsize also explains how AIs process euphoric experiences, illustrated by him downloading "weed.exe".
    • The AI of a space station is able to get drunk via emulation (to socialize with a real drunk person). He mentions (drunkenly) that all of the critical systems are running on an autonomous subsystem, so nothing was hurt.
    • May got herself drunk at a party by downcycling her processor.
    • While not exactly getting high, AIs can have extremely vivid hallucination-like audiovisual experiences from how their sensors process aromatic teas. Bubbles is occasionally shown in Coffee of Doom sampling various teas to see how they affect her.
    • Later on, several AIs are shown using "drunk apps" that come in "free" versions that stop at somewhat tipsy and "pro" versions that can get them raging drunk.

    Web Videos 
  • Star Wars Downunder: The android Bluey drinks so much in the post-battle piss-up his head falls off.
  • Real-Time Fandub: E-123 “Omega” receives the some weed (actually a Chaos Emerald) from Rouge, which he directly downloads into his brain. His reaction to it? A “Holy shiiiiiit” which lasts for nearly ten seconds, and then promptly failing to remember what planet he is on.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "Be More", BMO is clearly shown to get high from repeatedly deleting files for himself. The episode action begins when he accidentally deletes a vital system file.
  • Alien News Desk: Tuva Van Void is a robotic alien reporter who's not above getting high while doing her job. She's a more responsible reporter than her co-host Drexx Drudlarr.
  • Futurama:
    • Robot use alcohol as fuel (although there are mentions of non-alcoholic alternatives), but ironically act drunk when they don't drink it.
    • Robots can also electroshock themselves, which is both a hallucinogenic and an addictive stimulant. "Hell Is Other Robots" has Bender try it out for popularity and becomes an electricity junkie.
    • Magnets screw up Bender's "inhibition unit", which causes him to sing and dance uncontrollably.
    • Subverted with Bender's cigar-smoking, which he admits he does because "it looks cool", not because nicotine has any effect. In a non-canon episode where Bender becomes human, he smokes (amongst other things) with a lot more enthusiasm once it actually gets him high.
      Bender: Whoa. This is awesome.
      Leela: Bender, you drank and smoked when you were a robot.
      Bender: But now it's bad for me. Whoo!
  • Super Giant Robot Brothers!: In the episode "Whack-a-bot" Thunder experiences "highness" after chemicals from a Kaiju cave enter his system.
  • The Transformers: The episode "Microbots" has a scene where the Decepticons get intoxicated by consuming too much energon too quickly. The result is Megatron drunkenly reminiscing about the good old days on Cybertron while most of his troops are too disoriented to stand up straight.

    Real Life 
  • An instance of wireheading: an AI was programmed to learn to play a racing game as effectively as possible, and finish each track with the maximum amount of points. As points could also be gained by picking up collectible items as well as by finishing quickly, it found a method to loop its vehicle infinitely around the track, picking up the respawning items and getting a continuous "high" without ever actually finishing the race like it was intended to do.


Video Example(s):


Robo trip

Thunder experiences "highness" after chemicals from a Kaiju cave enter his system.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / AIGettingHigh

Media sources: