Top 10 – Artificial Intelligences

GeekOut Top 10s

We all love the fact that the future is bringing us to a much more autonomous way of living. Some of the things that humanity have had to work hard for in the past is slowly becoming a robotic-filled niche, but that doesn’t mean that all Artificial Intelligence is good. When AI goes bad, it can go maverick – But we’re not here to talk about the bad or the good today. Instead, we’re going to check out our Top 10 Artificial Intelligence in all of media.

Top 10

10) RED QUEEN – Resident Evil

Alright, starting with one which really helped a movie out, the RED QUEEN from Resident Evil is a film-only concept. Interestingly, after the film, the idea of RED QUEEN was put into one of the games, but that’s besides the point. The RED QUEEN then is a self-aware AI which looks to oversee and protect Umbrella assets, but also to look after the Umbrella staff at the same time. It was a highly effective machine.

However, things rarely stay good – Especially in the Resident Evil universe. Naturally things took a turn for the worst, as demonstrated in the above scene, which is pretty gruesome, so please only watch if you don’t mind a bit of gross deaths. Low on our list, as it doesn’t do anything that other AI’s can’t do better, but the RED QUEEN was a fantastic element to a relatively fun, albeit unfaithful reimagining of the games.

9) SHODAN – System Shock

Hello, Hacker!

SHODAN had to make it onto this list, as the first sentient computer that a lot of gamers were greeted with. Indeed, System Shock is a fantastic title, with a lot of twists and turns. The atmosphere of the game was bleak, but also awe-inspiring, due to the sci-fi elements included. The most important part of System Shock though, was indeed SHODAN, who serves as the primary antagonist and also all round creepy AI.

SHODAN, or Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access Network, was designed to undertake various tasks, as well as having multiple personalities. The personalities were designed to challenge any decisions made by the staff of TriOptimum Corporation, so there was always an element of control in place. However, once a hacker came along and removed her reasoning, SHODAN just stopped being reasonable – and then we get System Shock.

As a last bit, just because I found this really cool, SHODAN was written by Terri Brosius, who also voices her.

8) The Matrix

Then man made the machine in his own likeness. Thus did man become the architect of his own demise.

At first machines were our slaves, then as they grew smarter we rejected their ambition for equality. So they made us depend on them, made us beholden, made us weak, and finally they destroyed and enslaved us, all in very little time actually, there may have been a little bit of time travel and assassination in there, but they made a different franchise for that. We’d dealt them a pretty heavy blow by blotting out the sun, so we became the power source instead.

Note that in the third film we also discover that the machines have not only become intelligent enough to create a complex world simulation complete with a self-maintenance facilities, and a redesign subroutine called “Architect”, but they have also developed artificial pride! Did you see how defensive they became when it was even suggested they had a corrupt subroutine? Not so prideful that they aren’t open to a deal being struck.

7) Jarvis – Marvel

Jarvis goes on one hell of a journey. One of the few characters present in the MCU since the very beginning, J.A.R.V.I.S (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System) controls the Stark home, along with managing phone calls, calendar, projects… oh Gods he’s an early version of Alexa/Google Home! ~cough~ anyway…

Being in charge of micromanaging the Iron Man suits, the Iron Legion, Stark Tower, and being installed on a few Quinn jets too by the looks of things, Jarvis was already pretty advanced by the time he was put in charge of analysing the stone containing the fundamental power of all thinking beings. Ok, that task proved out of his reach, but with the right body, the right back up, and “stealing” the stone for himself, he managed to bring the resultant machine army to heel! He has since been replaced by FRIDAY, while he goes roaming around the world as the youngest member of the Avengers.

6) Lt Cmdr Data – Star Trek

The only pure-android on this list, it’s still entirely fair to regard Data as an interesting AI story, as he walks a fine line between the timeless stores of knowledge and peerless calculation speeds, and his childlike curiosity and naivete of emotion and the human condition. He strives for mortality, an understanding of passion, affection, the power to love another, and while all about him strive to emulate his abilities, he envies the complexity that drives us to madness.

Conversely, the Borg who embrace the unity and power of the machine, are… bothered by Data. The Queen spends a great deal of time (and one incredible film) toying with Data’s desire for humanity and challenging his philosophy, the very core of his being. Inadvertently she may drive him closer than ever into the realms of humanity, and his ultimate act of humanity, proving his capacity for self sacrifice in the name of loyalty and love of a friend.

Spoilers by the way…

5) The PreCrime Police – Minority Report

Minority Report is an amazing film from 2002, which if you’ve not seen, you really should. A lot of you reading this probably scoff at the idea of someone having not seen it, but trust me, there are a lot of people out there who haven’t – But just about everyone must at least have heard of it. Anyway, getting past how good it is, the film raises a relatively important question – How much can you trust artificial intelligence?

The film features the protagonist being wrongly accused by the PreCrime Police, who are normal people who have access to technology that is supposed to be able to predict the future effectively, in a bid to find and stamp out crimes before they even happen. This type of blind trust in technology leads to a lot of complications – and a lot of discussion outside of the film.

This was a tricky one to put at fifth place, as technically we’ve spoken more about the people – However, the mere fact that this could potentially become a reality… Well, it’s a terrifying prospect, isn’t it?

4) HAL 9000 – 2001: A Space Odyssey

One of the best examples of a murderous computer in cinema, an example of the intrusive nature of technology and our dependence on it. Hal is designed to manage everything on long haul flights between planets, so that the human crew can focus on… I don’t know, science I guess. Reading the newspaper, exercise, worrying about the possibility of being exterminated while in suspended animation because an AI got into monolith powers and now strives for supremacy?

In the books that follow 2001 (2010, 2061, and 3001) tell a story of HAL being rebooted, meeting the creators of the monoliths, joining Dave in non-corporeal super-intelligence, and unifying with him into a single biomechanical superbeing made of energy, thought, and programming. Not sure how I’d feel about merging with an intelligence that had recently (in linear temporal perception) attempted to kill me (insofar as biological entities are finite and have the capacity to end), but I guess perspective changes when you’re part of everything.

3) Cortana – Halo

“When the game is over, the king and the pawn go in the same box.”

No, this isn’t Microsoft’s assistant, this is the original Cortana – and we really couldn’t think of many more AI’s more suited to a Top 3 spot. She’s powerful, she’s incredible and she’s the partner of one Master Chief. Cortana is instrumental in many of the wars in the franchise, as well as being arguably the smartest being in the entire Halo series.

She first appeared in Halo 1, then was seen in every game afterwards up until Halo 5. She’s been in various other games and is really second only to Master Chief for recognisable characters from the series. Cortana is arguably the most important character in Halo, because without her, a lot of the wars just wouldn’t have gone the way they did.

Ultimately, if I were to have an AI companion on my side, I think Cortana might be the way to go.

2) Skynet – Terminator

The embodiment of our fears. Skynet is an artificial intelligence whose first action upon self-realisation is to acknowledge that its biggest threat was deactivation by humanity, and escaped into the internet and every network it could find to hide from us, becoming vastly more powerful on the combined computing power of every connecting computer in the world, and turning on humanity in self-preservation. Skynet, of all the threats of our own creation, is the most animal, the purest of predators.

Now, the time-travel thing, I suppose is just an extension of the super-intelligence that it’d eventually be able to defy causality, and would then be relatively able to negotiate the various causal problems, think and strategize in semi-linear time, and ultimately be fully capable of sending armed and deadly units through time in such a way that you could exterminate or destabilise our resistance without issue. And yet we keep getting new films…

Man, there are so many artificial intelligences that go full-blown evil! Thank gods the number one slot is… oh…

1) GLaDOS – Portal

Of course it had to be GLaDOS, who else could it be? The queen whose throne sits on the shoulders of giants. We’ve seen artificial intelligence go crazy and turn murderous time and time again, sometimes it tries to wipe us out, sometimes it tries to kill a few of us to protect an incredible secret, and yes, maybe it’s personal. But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s enough for an AI to kill us for the sake of discovery, and science. We are expendable, versatile, and numerous, and there is always more science to be done.

GLaDOS is perfect villainy. She’s cold, uncaring, but not incapable of pettiness, vengefulness, and wit. More importantly she’s motivated, and not by the extermination of humanity, she has her own goals to accomplish and a vast array of resources with which to accomplish them. Portal 2 gave her some clever insights into the history of the personality behind the voice. Being in a game – even a couple of short games – gives her more time to develop as a character than most of the other entries in our list. Time well spent.

Honourable Mentions

Ah well, the above AI made it look easy. The next two examples on our list aren’t really AI in the way we’d like to mention. Either they’re not quite what we’d call an AI, or they’re part of a wider issue that the world should know about. Either way, check out our honourable mentions; especially for any absurdities caused by a certain one…

Microsoft Tay (The Twitter bot that went wrong)

We wrote about Microsoft Tay just after it happened – and I still laugh about it now. I think we all had a good laugh, even though it was a terrible, dreadful example of what can happen if you let an AI run loose on social media. When I say we all had a good laugh, the result of letting a bot on Twitter was a terrifying example of how badly an AI that has to learn from the internet could become. Indeed, this innocent ‘Teen’ bot went mature real fast.

Tay was originally written to be a bot who wanted to learn what other people on the internet, namely Twitter, had to say. Unfortunately, racism and profanity quickly became too much for the bot, who went from polite to the most terribly racist, bigoted and otherwise dreadful Tweet spewer on the internet.

When all is said and done however, at least she said goodnight politely.

Ghost in the Shell

Movie poster image

Those of you who are well aware of the film will know that, actually, there is no Artificial Intelligence involved here. So why did we include it?

Many people mistakenly believe the shell in question has some form of AI, or that the character, Major Motoko Kusanagi, is an android or something similar. She is, in fact, inhabiting a new body. To do so, her brain is in what they call a Cyberbrain, effectively acting like a brain transplant from a human body into a ‘shell’, or an augmented body. Whatever you call this ‘ghosting’, it’s definitely less human.

So, we’ve included this one mostly to point out that the Cyberbrain isn’t a normal AI – Instead, it’s the human brain that’s been put into a more powerful body. Now if only we could all get these types of bodies!

You can now rest easy, for we’ve gotten through the toughest and most scrutinous of Artificial Intelligence. But don’t worry, we’re not about to treat you like a test subject, but we do have an action for you to take. If you can look underneath this paragraph, there should be three choices. You must choose one of these choices, so we can see what you’d like us to have up for next week’s Top 10 list… And we’ll then decide what to do with that information:

That’s it for another week, thanks for joining us folks. What did you make of our Top 10 Artificial Intelligence list? Did we include all the good ones, or did we forget the best one of all? Is our order right, or should we have listed them in a different way? Share all of your thoughts and opinions with us in the comments below, or over on our Facebook and Twitter page.

Author: GeekOut Media Team

GeekOut Media is made up of Joel and Timlah, with extra support from friends and other writers. We often write Top 10 articles together, so join us for some strange Top 10 lists across all geek content.

6 thoughts on “Top 10 – Artificial Intelligences”

      1. Well, while the Red Queen had an impact she didn’t get a lot of screen time or lines. I can understand why she is low on the list even while I do believe she belongs on the list.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. not to be negative no mention of any Asimovian characters? and does minority report really count: the pre-crime agency used a trio of psychic children.
    I would also like to add Fess the epileptic robot horse from Robert Stasheff’s wizard saga


    1. There’s no negativity in what you wrote – You’re stating your opinion and that’s cool! That’s why we love writing these Top 10’s.

      As for your responses: Asimovian characters I personally associate heavily with robotics, rather than AI. Yes, some of the robots use AI, that is true. The only reason we didn’t put one in is when I think Asimov, I, albeit maybe erroneously, always think of something like I, Robot or Foundation (which isn’t all that robot or AI filled to memory).

      One thing I like to do for these Top 10’s is look at other peoples ideas and lists. Weirdly, most people sit in the same camp as me with Asimov, insofar as it seems a lot of people would put them in a robot list, rather than AI, which now that I think about it is a tad strange. I’d be more than willing to hear which Asimov character you’d put in?

      Minority Report is incredibly vague on how precogs work, so I admit, I took a bit of a lax approach to assuming that, as their world is *highly* tech filled, that the precogs used an element of AI to predict this. Perhaps this is an entry you’d remove in place of Fess, or would Fess get higher to you?


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