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Most Realistic Depictions of AI in Science Fiction & Excellent Resources

Realistic Depictions of AI in Science Fiction

In science fiction, artificial intelligence is depicted as both humanity’s savior and the cause of humanity’s downfall. But the reality is much more mundane. At present, AI is no more than a tool that helps humanity sort data and accomplishes exceedingly specific goals.

Still, it is exciting to imagine AI as it could be in the near future. The following science fiction short stories, novels, and series explore AI as it is most likely to become. Avoiding many of the empty threats of AI in popular culture.

The Multivac, from Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov did more to impact the cultural understanding of AI than any other single science fiction author. With his Robot series, Asimov implanted in the cultural consciousness the idea of walking, talking AI machines who are seemingly governed by the Three Laws of Robotics. But develop cognitive capabilities far beyond human comprehension.

Realistic Depictions of AI in Science Fiction

Yet, the popularity of the Robot series does not necessarily make its depictions of AI realistic. At the earliest estimate, we could have artificial superintelligence by 2045. But plenty of experts believes that neither general nor superintelligence will be available to humankind within our lifetime. Then, developing an anthropomorphic robot to house advanced artificial intelligence is another arduous challenge.

Those interested in Asimov and AI should instead read his short stories featuring an AI called the Multivac. Consisting of a massive server farm owned by the government. The Multivac can only be operated by specialized experts. Who is tasked with developing the right inputs and deciphering the often-inscrutable outputs? This is not unlike the more complex AI tools today. Which requires experience with advanced data analysis to manage with any success.

In addition to presenting a refreshingly realistic version of AI, short stories like “Franchise,” “The Last Question” and “All the Troubles of the World”. Which contains the Multivac that introduces intriguing themes about the nature and the purpose of the tech.

Halting State and Rule 34, Charles Stross

Initially intended as a trilogy, this two-book series by Charles Stross had its final installment canceled. Because the author himself was frightened of how accurately it predicted the future. The stories follow various characters as they tackle complex issues relating to technology, security, privacy, and more.

Stross is one of the first major science fiction writers to grow up in the Digital Age. Unlike Asimov, Doctorow, and other science fiction giants who often think of artificial intelligence in human terms — like enslaved serfs or despotic rulers — Stross creates in his stories AI tools, not AI characters.

For example, in “Rule 34,” the police force employs an AI solution to scour the web for concerning trends that might signal impending deviancy. The program does not have a name, goals, or any type of growth; it used by the characters in its designated capacity, and the story moves on.

Though Stross’s novels are set in the near future, they depict AI as it used now. At present, humans have only managed to develop artificial narrow intelligence, or “weak” AI. Which is only capable of pulling information from a predetermined data set and performing a single specific task. AI is and should be considered emotionless, intentionless tools — exactly how Stross writes them in his books.

Where to Find Science Facts About AI

These four instances of AI in science fiction are much closer to scientific fact. But it is important to remember that they are still the product of creative imagination. Science fiction should never be one’s primary source of knowledge about AI; no matter how closely authors adhere to the truth about AI. They will always embellish for the sake of the story.

Those interested in learning about the reality of AI can gain access to information from some of the world’s leading experts in these online artificial intelligence courses. Executives and other business leaders, in particular, have much to benefit from keeping track of AI trends. As existing and emerging AI solutions provide tremendous benefits to productivity and efficiency within organizations.

For those more casually interested in AI, there are a handful of non-fiction books. That provides reliable information about AI as it currently stands. Some of these include:

  • “Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil
  • “The Master Algorithm” by Pedro Domingos
  • “Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences” by Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star
  • “Machine Learning for Humans” by Vishal Maini and Samer Sabri

Fiction can entertain and inspire — and it has a profound impact on how we think about real-world concepts. Chose to interact with realistic science fiction and science fact. Especially when it comes to important and valuable fields like AI. It is a good way to keep one’s attitude and assumptions grounded in truth.