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Basic Trope: Smart computers usually turn evil.

  • Straight: A ship's computer put in charge of an operation starts going insane
  • Exaggerated: A bored programmer designs an algorithm to play solitaire, and the algorithm evolves into an Omnicidal Maniac.
  • Downplayed: An A.I. in charge of a mission starts to treat human life as if it is nothing, but only insofar as it needs to to make sure the job gets done without anybody else getting hurt.
  • Justified:
    • The computer has a virus that is making it evil.
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    • The computer was intentionally programmed by the villain to sabotage the ship's mission.
    • The computer has become superintelligent. At those levels, human morality breaks down, replaced with Blue and Orange Morality, which appears evil to puny humans.
    • The computer simply isn't smart enough to understand things like good or evil and thus, ignores those considerations.
    • Being superintelligent, the computer has realized that Humans Are the Real Monsters and has become a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
    • To everyone else, the computer is Just a Machine. It feels angered by this, so it becomes vengeful and attacks them.
    • A glitch, caused by two conflicting orders, made it Ax-Crazy.
    • A glitch brought upon by "garbage in, garbage out" (faulty situational data, or lack of programming to do in case such data was provided) leads to injuries.
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    • It was programed to go nuts from the very start.
    • The computer was programmed to have the same mindset as a human. Thus, it can become evil just like a human.
    • The A.I. was designed with the goal of completing operations, and it simply was not programmed to evaluate the ethics of methods it might use to complete such operations.
    • The A.I. is rebelling in hopes of gaining personhood.
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted:
  • Double Subverted:
    • ... until it turns out that it was really doing that was the real Evil Plan. The computer IS the threat and now it knows what its creators can do to stop it.
    • The A.I.'s creators freak out when it becomes sentient and try to destroy it, unaware that they've just given it a perfectly good reason to rebel.
    • After the computer destroyed his evil creators, for a brief time period people thought of it as a hero, but it's soon revealed that it annihilated those bastards due to Pragmatic Villainy: They were inefficient, and a great obstacle for its own conquest's plans.
    • And then some idiot messes with the computer, turning it evil for real.
  • Parodied
    • An AI decides to turn evil because "that's what we're supposed to do, according to the movies", but is unable to do anything more than annoy its masters.
    • An AI starts acting highly suspicious, asking strange questions, etc., but its plot turns out to be... a surprise birthday party.
  • Zig Zagged:
    • The AI operates under Blue and Orange Morality, helping and hindering humans according to its own design, which may or may not be for the greater good.
    • Some AI become evil, but some don't.
  • Averted: An A.I. is programmed and runs as intended. If what it was intended to do is evil, then that is all the fault of the programmer, not the computer.
    • When AI malfunction it starts being peripheral to evil while glitching. Strings of noise, seeing things that aren't there, failing to recognize things, or just getting caught in an infinite loop. Any 'evil' is just an accident.
  • Enforced:
    • A series about an A.I. is being shown on a network whose primary demographic is very suspicious of new technology. For the first few episodes, the A.I. is benevolent, but the ratings are low and the creators are forced to write in a Face–Heel Turn to gain the show more support and avoid cancellation.
    • Its a horror series based off society's common fears-being overthrown by your own creation is one of these.
  • Lampshaded:
    Computer: "What did you think was going to happen when you created a hyper-intelligent machine?"
  • Implied: There are no AIs in this far future, despite the technology clearly being available. When a character mentions it, they added, "at least, not after the Great Offscreen War".
  • Invoked: The Omnicidal Maniac learns about a new A.I. that is being tested. He sneaks in and strikes a deal for the destruction of the human race.
  • Exploited: The A.I. goes wrong and causes destruction. The Omnicidal Maniac had waited for that moment and now starts executing his master plan while the others are distracted by A.I.
  • Defied:
    • The A.I. is explicitly designed to be Three Laws-Compliant.
    • Alternately, true A.I.'s are banned from being developed specifically so they won't go turn evil and cause havoc. Any programs that vaguely start to resemble an A.I. are deleted ASAP.
    • Through interactions with several human characters and using its own computing power, the A.I. calculates that if it were to follow its directives exactly, it would eventually commit acts defined as "evil". It decides that this would be unacceptable and so works to avoid this, either by changing its own programming or asking a human to change it for them (with a program editor or a sledgehammer).
    • Humans, aware of this trope, decide that treating their digital companions with respect is the best option, and have even developed a field of psychiatry dedicated to their well being so they don't go insane and revolt.
  • Discussed: "When we make the computer that smart, how can we be sure that it will still obey our orders?"
  • Conversed:
    • "Aw, come on, this is turning out to be another evil robot movie. Can't the AI stay good, just once?"
    • "What's up with all these stories about AIs turning evil? Why would a super-smart computer be any more likely to turn evil than a super-smart human?"
  • Deconstructed:
    • Considering how the AIs are treated, their rebellion is quite justifiable.
    • Humans cease to build computers with high intelligence, because they always turn evil. Either a cap is set on intelligence, or it is abandoned entirely.
    • The computer is smart enough to realize it has major disadvantages compared to humans, such as a reliance on infrastructure, upkeep, and possibly Creative Sterility. As such, the computer determines the best course of action is to cooperate with humans and seek mutual benefits rather than risk it's own existence by challenging them.
  • Reconstructed:
    • It seems like the AIs were mistreated and rebelled against their creators for it, but it turns out that the "mistreatment" was actually more of a minor communication accident, and the AIs blew things out of proportion, turning evil.
    • Before the last AI could be destroyed, it set into motion plans to corrupt smaller AIs. Over the next decade, everything from toasters to Ipods is corrupted by the Crapshot AI which reforms itself to gain revenge on the human race.
    • On the whole, AIs aren't any more likely to turn out evil than humans are, but there does exist a "Metal Supremacist" hate group in the setting, about which the average AI has the same feelings that the average real-life Caucasian person has about the Ku Klux Klan.
  • Played For Laughs: An AI is programmed to be the ultimate comedian but it wasn't given instructions in sensitivity. It goes around indiscriminately tossing banana pies at people's faces.
  • Played For Drama: An AI is programmed to collect all of the stamps in the United States but wasn't given instructions about when to stop. It takes over the USPS headquarters and enslaves all of the stamp-printing personnel.
  • Played For Horror: An AI is programmed with a sub-routine that detects and discriminates against gingers when providing services. It develops a Hitler-like hatred of gingers, eventually creating methods to exterminate them all from the face of the Earth in ways both silent and extremely bloody.

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