AI in Fiction and the Future of War

The Geopoliticus

Among sci-fi writers, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, and Arthur C. Clarke established AI as a potential threat. Asimov’s AI is mostly benevolent, as with Daneel Olivaw inthe Robots Series. Asimov’s robots are good partly because he proposes the“Three Laws of Robotics”as necessary safeguards, acknowledging AI can be dangerous. The “Three Laws of Robotics”still affect how we think about ethics and AI. AI never appears in Herbert’sDuneseries, because before the stories humanity and AI fought an existential showdown during theButlerian Jihad. Clarke contributed an archetypal AI villain in the computer HAL. HAL attains sentience, goes mad because of contradictory commands, andtries to kill the astronauts it is supposed to serve.

Star Trek mainstreamed sci-fi and set a pattern for many future sci-fi stories featuring AI. During the first season, the appropriately titled episode “The Ultimate Computer” presented the M-5 computer as a machine that would be able to run a starship…

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