Interlinked Artificial Intelligences

Zachary Reiss-Davis, '08, The Cyborg Self, Brown University, Spring 2005

The examples in The Cyborg Self which involve artificial intelligence add only a little innovation to the concept of AI, and instead rely and build on previous works of fiction. AI, in this instance, encompasses cyborgs, robots, conscious beings that reside inside computer systems, and any other type of artificially created sentient being. Since there is a fundamental difference between an augmented Homo Sapien (which is recognized by today's society as human) and a unique being created through a process (which is not), the definition of cyborg as used for a main section of cyberartsweb has not been included. This may not remain true in the future, but for now it holds for all of the examples that the class has examined.

The fiction works examined in this class are: Neuromancer and itís sequels Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive (The Sprawl Trilogy), Bladerunner, Max Headroom, and Bubblegum Crisis.

Inside these works are the following specific artificial intelligences:

These works draw on Asimov's humanoid robots, specifically R. Daneel Olivaw in Caves of Steel, and Heinlein's Mycroft Holmes in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

After learning about all of the above AIs, they can be separated out into different categories, and the different conceptualizations of them can be traced back from earlier works. A possible classification scheme is whether or not the AI was intentionally created, then whether or not it has a physical body.


Using the given classification scheme, where would you put all of the works we have looked at so far? Why?

Do you think that each new work looked at intentionally copies the style of artificial intelligences of older works, or are there a limited number of directions in which an artificial intelligence can be taken?

Can it be considered to have taken directly from an earlier work only if it alludes to that work in some way, or can thematic similarities be enough?

Which of the works we have looked at in this class are the most innovative in their artificial intelligences? The least?

Which of the works we have looked are the most innovative in terms of the worlds their story is set in? The least?

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Last modified 22 March 2005