Saturday, August 18, 2012

Best fictional computers

These are distinct from robots but sometimes there is a little in the way of robotic attachments. Some of these machines or computers have described usages far earlier than they were created in reality, but this is not prediction but rather a recognition and notation of needs that computers might just be able to fill in the future. Like us talking about UFOs before we even launched our own (unidentified by any observers out there for the most part) or rather IFOs.

There are heaps of homicidal computers, computers built in pairs with opposing characters, genocidal computers, computers wishing to be human, god computers, guiding or controlling computers, malfunctioning computers and so on. There are also many computers who divide themselves from their first 'bodies' to become 'minds' only, allowing for a look into the mind/body split problem but in this instance computers become programmes rather than people becoming souls or brains in jars. Many are great computers but there are some amongst them that shine for either originality or the love the public has given them.

The Engine
A mechanical information generator from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. The first fictional 'computer'.

The Prime Radiant
Hari Seldon's desktop on Trantor from Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

Mima carries the memories of all humanity from Harry Martinson's SÃ¥ngen om Doris och Mima. A forerunner for the Tree of Souls in Avatar. Just a point of interest, Harry Martinson wrote a science fiction epic poem called Aniara.

An AI computer who'll keep a secret and run a mission even though it has personality enough to make another choice. From Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Deep Thought
A computer made by pan-dimensional beings that look like mice. The aim: to find the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything. The answer: not what was expected. From Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's series.

The Earth
A computer made by pan-dimensional beings that look like mice. Humans are their experimental program for finding out THE question. From Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's series.

Master Control Program
The main villain of the film Tron but really the voice of computers as opposed to the voice/s of humanity. It wants what it doesn't have and fights hard to get it.

A malevolent fictional world-AI originally fixed within a single computer which escapes to become global. From The Terminator series. Skynet becomes the 'father' of all the killer robots from the future and is the one who brings about the human doomsday.

The Matrix
Virtual reality simulator used for the pacification of humans as they act as batteries from The Matrix series. While there are plenty of virtual reality programmes and computers out there this is a meld of the two and also serves the vast majority of the human population rather than one or two people at a time.

Red Queen
The AI from the movie Resident Evil that acts to protect humanity as a whole but is seen as the enemy by a few intruders. She is very willing to kill a few humans to protect the species. She shows us that the flip side of a rogue computer intending to destroy humanity can be a rogue computer killing to save humanity. Most people just like her because she kills and is spooky within a bloody action movie but even if she weren't a computer her strategies are that of a general. Sacrifices must be made without hesitation.

An A.I. in the 2008 film Iron Man, Jarvis is pure cynical butler wrapped in gadgetry and analysis. Interestingly, in the comic Tony Stark's sentient AI computer is HOMER (Heuristically Operative Matrix Emulation Rostrum), from Iron Man.

Holly (both of the above)
The on-board computer of the space ship Red Dwarf from Red Dwarf. Alternatively male and female, extremely dim, beyond genius, mobile and fixed. Red Dwarf, show and ship, would not function without Holly.

The Intersect 
A computer upgrade to the mind, the Intersect is further along the computer/human hybridisation model than most. The Intersect only truly functions properly when downloaded into a brain as the brain acts intricate as a referencing system. Otherwise, the Intersect is a giant program for storing vast amounts of spy related intel, from martial arts through to bad guys and installations. From the TV show Chuck.

Tree of Souls/Pandora
This computer is a blend of Mima and The Earth from the Hitchhikers series. It does take on a somewhat new form through the addition of mainly benevolent godlike qualities. Appears in Avatar.

Special vote:

Colossus from Colossus: The Forbin Project
Takes over the world and micromanages human interactions.


  1. No Mother from Alien? It's terrible when your Mum turns against you!!!

    1. Ah, I was debating Mother. She's a little too close to HAL in character but is greatly loved. Should I then?