12 Fictional Supercomputers I Hope Never Materialize

, July 31, 2013 If Google's server farm ever does assert its independence and decide the human race needs to do something other than look up cat videos, most science fiction fans would shrug and say: "Told you so." Artificial intelligence has the baddest of raps in science fiction, in big part because so many of these supercomputers tend to be so malicious. But look closer and you'll find in a lot of cases they're simply doing too good a job of being true to their programming, whether for good or ill. Here's a rundown of 12 supercomputers that we wouldn't want to run into in a darkened data center.
  • E-mail

AM from Harlan Ellison's "I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream"

Ellison's widely-anthologized 1967 short story is still chilling today, and almost works as a sequel in spirit to "The Forbin Project" (see Slide #6): A supercomputer tasked with fighting a world war has absorbed its enemy computers. AM resents humanity for designing it with nothing but hatred (what else would a war computer be good for?), and now presides over a post-apocalyptic underground complex where it keeps alive the few human beings who remain, only to torment them endlessly. Eventually, only one human being remains, for whom AM devises torments that only a computer could come up with. Yikes. Again, the dangers of an AI taking on human qualities come to mind, as some human qualities aren't always benevolent.


Network Computing encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Network Computing moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing/SPAM. Network Computing further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | Please read our commenting policy.