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Interface with a Familiar Face

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Donating your face for use as a library information terminal. It's like donating a park bench, except way creepier.

When an artificial intelligence is given the face and voice of a real (in the fictional setting) human being, instead of a made-up face.

Distinct from Virtual Ghost and Replacement Goldfish in that the resemblance is only skin deep — the AI has its own name and personality, and is not meant to be a replacement for the person — although the decision to give it that face may have been influenced by sentimental reasons.

Also, this is usually not a case of the AI taking the place of the person it's modelled on; the model is usually still alive, and they will generally go on to lead separate existences. Nor is it usually a case of the AI being introduced as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute; in fact, in series fiction it's very common for the AI to appear first.

If the AI does appear first, and especially if it's a regular character, then the longer the series runs the more likely it becomes that the model will make a guest appearance. The odds of this happening are given a boost if the AI's creator did it without the model's knowledge.

There seems to be a trend for a male-seeming AI to be modelled on its creator, and for a female-seeming AI to be modelled on somebody the creator knew. This may just be a reflection of a preponderance of male AI creators in fiction, though.

Although the title we've given this trope puts the emphasis on computer interfaces, all of the above can also apply to androids.

Contrast Virtual Ghost and Brain Uploading, where the artificial intelligence is meant to be the same as the person it's copied from; all robotic forms of Doppelgänger; and A Form You Are Comfortable With.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Full Metal Panic!, the A.I. in Kurz Weber's Arm Slave is named "Yukari" and is said to have the personality and voice of a certain popular idol (with the novels mentioning that Kurz provided voice clips for the programmers to use). While the novel kept it vague (presumably for legal reasons), the anime just went ahead and confirmed it by casting Yukari Tamura as the voice of the A.I.
  • In Megazone 23, Virtual Idol Eve Tokimatsuri is an avatar for System E.V.E, charged with evaluating whether the humans aboard her colony ship were worth of returning to Earth. Part III of the OVA shows that her appearance and name were based on a human programmer who'd worked on the Megazone project.

    Comic Books 
  • In All Fall Down, AIQ Squared looks and sounds exactly like IQ Squared, when he was still a super genius.
  • In Atomic Robo, the Automatic Learning Algorithm Network — ALAN for short — communicates through a hologram modeled on the appearance of Alan Turing.
  • A variant in Iron Man, where the interface doesn't actually have a face (and, due to the medium, we don't actually hear the voice, either) the AI in Pepper Potts's Rescue armour is called J.A.R.V.I.S. and, as that suggests, is modelled on Edwin Jarvis. Later, the AI in Tony's space armour is called P.E.P.P.E.R. and is intended to keep him grounded while he's away from the real Pepper. It starts off by pointing out how creepy that is.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In one chapter of Tiberium Wars, Nod's LEGION AI drops in on Commander Logan Rawne to have a friendly chat. For reasons known only to itself, it chooses to replace its normal deep, imposing computer voice with a pitch-perfect mimicry of Tim Curry. (When he recovers, Rawne deadpans that if LEGION starts singing "Sweet Transvestite", he's going to start running.)

    Film — Live-Action 
  • A few of these appeared in the Alien film series, particularly in the form of androids. Bishop, from Aliens, is established in a subsequent film as having been modelled on a real person.
  • The Kree Supreme Intelligence in Captain Marvel (2019) takes the form of whomever the person speaking to them admires most. Vers sees her former mentor Mar-Vell, while in a deleted scene, Yon-Rogg sees himself.
  • In Resident Evil (2002), the appearance and voice of the Red Queen's hologram were modeled after the head programmer's daughter. The daughter appears in the sequel, Resident Evil: Apocalypse.
  • In Star Trek: The Motion Picture we have the Ilia probe, modeled after the dead Ilia to facilitate communication with the crew.
  • Terminator Salvation: Skynet manifests itself to Marcus with the face and voice of Dr. Serena Kogan, the scientist who froze him before he woke up in the future. When Marcus is confused by this, Skynet offers to switch its appearance to several other human faces.
  • Terminator Genisys has a rather complex example also with Skynet. John Connor gets turned into a T-3000 by Skynet in the form of a Terminator played by Matt Smith. When Terminator!John goes back in time to ensure the creation of Genisys/Skynet in the new timeline, the holographic interface Skynet projects eventually starts looking like the Matt Smith Terminator. This would usually be considered a Stable Time Loop, except that this has already been established as a separate timeline, and the film ends with Judgment Day being stopped.

  • In Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel, robot R. Daneel Olivaw is modeled upon his creator. The resemblance is so good that his creator is murdered by someone who thought they were attacking the robot.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Labyrinth of Reflections, the protagonist uses Windows Home as his computer OS. He keeps the original avatar of the OS, an attractive woman. While in Cyberspace, he is running away from a mob and runs into a virtual brothel. He then browses through the catalog and is stunned to find a virtual prostitute that looks exactly the same as his avatar. After meeting her, he starts developing feelings for her, which she cautions him against, as she can be a fat guy for all he knows. At the end of the novel, they agree to meet in the real world, and it turns out that this is what she really looks like.
  • In Neuromancer Wintermute's virtual avatars always take the form of somebody Case knows, as an indication that he has no personality of his own. His counterpart, the titular Neuromancer, does have a custom avatar though.
  • In The Peace War by Vernor Vinge, Paul Naismith has given his house AI a hologram body and voice modeled on his girlfriend who was one of the first victims of the Peace Authority.
  • Star Wars Legends: In the New Jedi Order series, Lando Calrissian's foray into arms manufacturing creates the Yuuzhan Vong Hunter war droids. Though they have silver death's heads, their voices are one and all based on Lando's (albeit deeper and more masculine).

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bad of Season 3 of The 100, A.L.I.E., is modeled on her creator, Becca Franko. However, while Becca usually dressed conservatively, due to working in a lab environment, A.L.I.E. appears as a more idealized and glamorous Lady in Red.
  • A for Andromeda: The Master Computer kills a female operator, then uses the information gathered in the process to create an Artificial Human who looks exactly like her. Only blonde.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gives us the LMD Aida, who is physically modeled on her creator Holden Radcliffe's former lover Agnes Kitsworth. However, while Agnes was Australian, Aida adopts an American accent.
  • In a voice-only example, the Cylon Imperious Leader in Battlestar Galactica (1978) is voiced by Patrick Macnee, who later appears as Count Iblis. That their voices are the same is a plot point.
  • A plotline in Century City involved one of the lawyers, who had developed a crush on his computerized PA, wanting to track down the actress she was modelled on, despite her pointing out this was a very bad idea.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead": The computer information terminals in the Library have human faces. The Doctor explains that they're memorials to the faces' original owners, "like donating a park bench". This provides a Cliffhanger shocker when a terminal turns to reveal the face of the Doctor's current companion, implying she's been killed.
    • In "Let's Kill Hitler", the TARDIS voice control interface can take the appearance of anyone. The Doctor chooses the form of seven-year-old Amelia Pond, since at that point he felt he hadn't screwed her up yet. And this is after rejecting his own form ("No, no, give me someone I like!") and that of his previous companions ("Guilt! Also guilt! More guilt!").
      • Later still, in "Hide", the interface adopts Clara's form, telling her that it chose the form of somebody whose advice she would respect.
    • The Moment in "The Day of the Doctor", an ultimate Time Lord weapon that became so advanced it gained sentience, thus no-one dared use it for fear it would turn on them. When the War Doctor activates it to stop the Time War by destroying both Time Lords and Daleks, it takes the form of one of his companions in an attempt to convince the Doctor not to activate it. (Being a Time Lord weapon, it's a bit vague on the distinction between past and future, and takes the form of future companion Rose Tyler. note )
      The War Doctor: [scorching his hand on the Moment] Argh! The interface is hot!
      The Moment: [pouting] Well I do my best...
  • In Eureka, the voice of the house AI SARAH is actually a pitched-up version of its inventor Fargo (because [fictionally] Sarah Michelle Gellar wouldn't agree to supply the voice).
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "The Origin of Species", the ship uses holograms of Dr. Martin Nodel and his son Paul, both of whom it had previously absorbed, to communicate with Hope and the six students.
  • Person of Interest: After spending most of the series with a Cut-and-Paste Note voice, the Machine chooses the voice of Root after her death in "The Day the World Went Away". Harold Finch goes along with it because he misses hearing Root's voice, plus he knows Root would be pleased that the Machine had chosen her.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • The ship's computer, Holly, claims that he chose his face from the millions on offer because it had belonged to the most prolific lover who ever lived. In an odd twist of the trope, Holly later undergoes a "computer sex change" and assumes the face of his Alternate Universe gender-flipped self/lover, Hilly.
    • It's claimed in the episode "Beyond a Joke" that the android Kryten was designed as a caricature of his (female) creator's ex-boyfriend. (The episode "The Last Day" features a recorded message from an executive at the company that manufactured Kryten, who was played by the same actor as Kryten himself; this might suggest an alternative explanation, or just be a case of Significant Double Casting.)
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • Data (and his brother androids) were modelled after their creator, Noonien Soong.
      • Geordi gets in quite a lot of trouble when he creates an A.I. engineer in the holodeck in the episode "Booby Trap", develops a crush on her/it, and then comes to an abrupt awakening when the "model" visits the ship in the later episode "Galaxy's Child".
    • Invoked by Dr. Zimmerman with the Longterm Medical Holographic (LMH) program, based on Dr Julian Bashir, in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Dr. Bashir, I Presume".
    • The Emergency Medical Hologram in Star Trek: Voyager has an appearance based on its creator, Dr. Zimmerman. The creator makes a few guest appearances in later episodes.
  • In Time Trax, Captain Lambert's AI sidekick SELMA has a "visual mode" based on a picture from his childhood, which turns out to have been modelled on his Missing Mom.
  • Warehouse 13:
    • Played with; when they accidentally activate a long dormant AI, Claudia questions why it looks like its creator, and Fargo says that AI designers often do that. However, it later transpires that it is in fact, a Virtual Ghost of sorts; an artifact-assisted upload of its creator's right brain.
    • In a later episode, the team ends up in an alternate timeline where the season's Big Bad has been in control of the Warehouse for centuries, running it as a high tech facility with his face plastered everywhere. He even included a hologram of himself as a guide, which winks after the characters lampshade it.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: Valhalla: At the end of the "Tombs of the Fallen" quest, Eivor meets an ancient AI who takes on the appearance of the administrator of the Isu facility she's exploring.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: Alter Ego is this to Chihiro Fujisaki.
  • Cortana from Halo was not only created by scanning a clone of Dr. Halsey's brain, but is noted to look very much like a younger version of her creator. Notably, human-built "Smart" artificial intelligence constructs always design their own holographic avatars (through a mysterious process that the AI itself doesn't necessarily understand), so Cortana, at least subconsciously, selected Halsey's appearance deliberately.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect 2, you learn that a street kid has been making and selling VIs that look like Shepard. You never see it, but you can ask for a copy. In Mass Effect 3, you can see the VI, who can "predict what Shepard would say with 7% accuracy." Shepard is worried if s/he really sounds like that.
      Bailey: Yeah. When you erased a file, it would say "I delete data like you on the way to real errors." Buggy, though. It crashed every half-hour and the error message was about how the galaxy was at stake and you should fix the problem yourself.
    • Also, the creator of the Reapers takes on the form of the child Shepard watched die to talk with him/her.
  • Ma3a from TRON 2.0 straddles the line between this and Virtual Ghost. While she has a distinct (and utterly cryptic) thought process and purpose, it's all but stated that her appearance, voice (yes, it is Cindy Morgan under all that distortion), and some of her personality was constructed from the deceased Lora Bradley, Ace's mother and Alan's wife.

  • Lovelace from Narbonic looks and sounds like Jennifer Connelly.
  • S.S.D.D.:
    • The Oracle publicly appears as an ambiguous blue orb with triangles for eyes and a nose, but privately he takes the form of his creator.
    • Arthur compiles an avatar out of Willy's search history.
  • In 6 Gun Mage, the personification of the plane of magic sits halfway between this and Virtual Ghost. Her form and to an extent personality are based on one character's memories of a deceased friend, but she is very much her own individual with her own knowledge, desires, and goals.

    Western Animation 
  • In Generator Rex, Zag-RS turns out to be a voice-only example: Caesar gave it his (And by extension Rex's) mother's voice.
  • In The Venture Bros., Dr. Venture, Brock, Ünderbheit, and Pete are captured by Mike Sorayama's Leslie Bots, which he made to look like his college crush, Leslie Cohen. We then find out that Professor Sorayama is actually dead, and that he created a robot in his own image to continue his hatred for the aforementioned capturees... and teach his college courses.

    Real Life 
  • Einstein and Shakespeare are available as helpers in Microsoft Office programs.
  • HUBO, a Korean robot with a wide repertoire of facial expressions, and, the better to demonstrate them, a life-like human face: Albert Einstein's.