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andyk

Writing AI

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I haven't often tried to write about artificial intelligence, but I found this week's episode on it interesting, especially the the idea that it might not end up being electronic. Maybe future fake brains will be made out of cloned brain cells or liquid metal or lumps of specially engineered cheese or...

 

Anyway, who round here has tried writing AI? How did you try to make your AI distinctive for other characters? How well did it work for you?

 

And related to that what interesting examples of AI have featured in books you've read? What did you think was good or bad about them? (not expecting people to agree on what's good or bad, more interested in why they appeal or don't)

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Hi Andy,

 

Interesting post - the short I'm planning as a break from 'Without Honour' features brain augmentation - not A.I., but still, you've started me thinking.

 

When I think of A.I,. I go back to Asimov's 'Naked Sun' and 'Caves of Steel' - and R. Daneel Olivaw - old school.

 

(Not been on the Writing Excuses threads before - surprisingly quiet considering how lively Reading Excuses is.)

Edited by Robinski
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Asimov's definitely a big influence for a lot of people - some authors even seem to take his laws of robotics for granted as their own starting point for AI morality, which is interesting.

 

And yes, it's surprisingly quiet here, isn't it?

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If I were to include AI in my stories, I'd begin with several decisions. First, is the AI meant to be a character, or simply an aspect of the setting? The latter would mean that my AI should never be more interesting than my actual characters. Second, to what degree should AI remain fettered? Can they make their own decisions (within parameters?) or must their tasks both long and short term be given by command? Third, how distinctive do I want to make the AI's voice (and I don't mean what they sound like, I mean how they speak or phrase what they want to say, since they're often much more intelligent than organic characters)? In my case, I often try to make AIs less empathic and more formal than my primary characters.

 

My personal take on AI, if I wanted to make an AI character, would be trying to strike a contrast between how superior it is to human beings, versus how that same superiority makes it deficient or lacking in what makes human characters so compelling. Without that as a central conflict an AI character just wouldn't work for me.

 

For additional references, sci-fi video game settings often have great examples of AI as characters, both good and evil. Mass Effect (EDI), Portal (GLADOS), and Halo (Cortana) are the first that come to mind. There are good films with different takes on AIs, like Her and Bi-Centennial Man, and Star Wars shows the contrast between a fettered AI (C3-PO) and an unfettered one (R2D2). Data from Star Trek: Next Generation is still one of my favorite AIs. And do I need to mention Schlock Mercenary's own take on AI?

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