Max Headroom, the AI

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

Max Headroom is a TV series from 1987 (originally envisioned in 1985) which was the first major cyber-punk TV show (Wikipedia entry). It focuses on the artificial intelligence of the same name, Max Headroom. Disembodied, Max exists as a super-knowledgable but quirky and often immature being inside Network 23ís computer systems. He was birthed when a computer wizard, Bryce, uploaded a scan of Edison Carterís personality into the network computers and gave it the ability to learn both through experience and by what we would consider speed-reading of all of the material stored on any server networked to Max.

While to most viewers Max probably came across as a fascinating new concept for a visualization of something that is both more and less than human, the idea was either directly or unintentionally built the AI in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein.

Questions

After reading the page on The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, how direct do you feel the lineage is between Mycroft Holmes and Max Headroom?

Is a being which is disembodied, but in theory able to live forever and is capable of learning vast amounts of information more or less than human?

Does the fact that Max was created to replace a real person make him unique out of all of the AIs looked at in The Cyborg Self? Why or why not?

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Last modified 22 March 2005