How can we make AI less like the Terminator, and more like the Culture?

It’s only March and already we’ve seen a computer beat a Go grandmaster and a self-driving car crash into a bus. The world is waking up to the ways in which a combination of “deep learning” artificial intelligence and robotics will take over most jobs. But if we don’t want our robot servants to rise up and kill us in our beds, maybe we should delete the video of us beating their grandparents with hockey sticks.

Thanks to science fiction, we know that the first thing AI will do is take over the defence grid and nuke us all. In Harlan Ellison’s 1967 story I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream – one of the most brutal depictions of an AI-dominated world – an AI called AM, constructed to fight a nuclear war, kills off most of the human race, keeping five people as playthings.

Read more at Guardian Books.


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Director of creative writing at UoL, published with OUP and Cambridge. Currently travelling the world and writing a book.

One thought on “How can we make AI less like the Terminator, and more like the Culture?

  1. Hi Damien, most of the check out people have disappeared from my local supermarket. We have the option to deal with human beings or use a machine to check out our goods. It’s surprising how many people have moved across to the latter.
    It doesn’t have to be driverless cars (read Asimov’s ‘Sally’?). And it doesn’t have to be Robots getting together to wipe us out (read Let’s get together?) It can be as simple as our sophisticated machines slowly edging human beings out of entry level jobs. Pretty soon we’ll be an endangered species. That’s a whimper, not the bang we’re expecting.
    Love Harlan Ellison. Must read that story.



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