The 8 Evil Forms of AI That Gave Robots a Bad Name
It's not the hardware that makes the evil robot one of western culture's most powerful myths. It's the software—namely the artificial intelligence—that turns machines into monsters. Here is a timeline with the most iconic examples of malevolent AI and the fears each inspired.
Although fantasies of robo-fascism continue to be recycled and refined in modern science fiction (thank you, Battlestar Galactica), by the end of the 20th century, the mythos was complete. While Japan's Astro Boy-inspired love affair with all things robotic shows no signs of cooling, western media continue to drop casual references to Skynet, the Matrix and the inevitable slaughter of mankind into coverage of even the most sober robotics research. As secular myths go, the evil machine has proven to be particularly hard to kill. Here are the villains that started it all, pop culture's most iconic examples of malevolent AI, along with the fears that their fictional crimes inspired.
The warning signs should have been obvious: the singsong condescension in HAL 9000's voice, and that baleful red eye. But by the time 2001: A Space Odyssey leaps from sci-fi to horror, it's too late—the AI exerts its control over a Jupiter-bound spacecraft quickly, smothering or jettisoning the human crew members whom it considers to be a liability to the mission. Like Asimov's Machines, HAL isn't malicious or petty, just a little too smart for the good of humans