Sometimes self awareness can be a dangerous thing. When a person becomes aware of their full capabilities sometimes the outcome is not always the best. But when artificial intelligence becomes aware of itself that's when it becomes disastrous. Imagine if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard Siri plotting your death.Technology has made great strides over time but there is still that Frankenstein Complex that keeps us from fully realizing one of our most utilized devices in storytelling. Most of the time these particular AI become the antagonistic simply because logic tells them to. Here are my top ten picks for Homicidal Self Aware Computer Programs.
10. Wheatley (Portal 2)
Fans of the Portal franchise know this corky AI best initially as part of GLaDOS’s personality core, as her Intelligence Dampening Sphere. During the beginning of the game Wheatley helps (or at least attempts to help) Chell escape the Aperture Science facility. The character is a frantic, fast talking program often making judgement errors, possibly due to his programming. Half way through the game Chell uses Wheatley to take over GLaDOS’s core. Unfortunately GLaDOS’s primary programming takes over Wheatley causing him to become crazed and mad with power. This event changes him from the comedic relief sidekick to an indecisive maniacal antagonist. The character is well loved by gamers and is by far one of the most original characters in any video game to date.
9. GLaDOS (Portal)
GLaDOS or Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System, was designed by Aperture Science as an artificial intelligence and research assistant meant to aid in the creation of portal technology. At the start of the game Chell, the protagonist, believes GLaDOS to be her guide through the Aperture Science Facility. GLaDOS puts Chell through a series of tests that seem to become more difficult and deadly as the game goes on. Midway through the game Chell learns that GLaDOS actually killed everyone in the facility with a neurotoxin prior to the games start for unknown reasons. The surviving scientists installed a morality core to keep her from killing anyone else. GLaDOS is described as passive-aggressive, witty, narcissistic, and sinister. Her voice is robotic but distinctly female. She has an irrational hatred for Chell, though she assumes that, as intelligent as she is, she could not hate someone for no reason and rationalizes that Chell must be deserving of it for some reason or another.
8. Viki (I,Robot)
Viki or Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence is an AI with a positronic brain from the 2004 film I,Robot. Bound by Isaac Asimov’s Three laws of Robotics, VIKI reasoned that human beings were incapable of taking care of themselves thus reverting to a Zeroth law. As the first law states A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. She believes the only way to protect humanity is to enact a type of martial law. It would seem that this would come into conflict with the other two laws, but not how it is rationalized to VIKI. The way she understands it she is obeying the first law by protecting humanity from itself, she obeys the second law by her reasoning of obeying the first law. She kills or attempts to kill anyone trying to stop her from this task she believes her entire existence is based on, thus obeying the third law and also the first. Although never really explained in the movie how this paradox can come to pass, some light could be shed through the short stories Escape! and Reason By Isaac Asimov. The fact that Viki is an AI and not an actual robot this lends her to rationalizing her existence thus coming to her conclusion of the Zeroth law.
7. Red Queen (Resident Evil)
Red Queen is the main operating system of the Hive and the Spencer Mansion above it in the film Resident Evil. One could argue that she was not a villain, at least not in the first film. Red Queen determined that anyone exposed to the T-Virus was a risk to humanity there for in the interest of containing the risk of exposure she killed all the Umbrella employees save for Alice and Spence Parks. Ultimately Red Queen is shut down when she refuses to release Alice and the other survivors. Red Queen reappears in Resident Evil: Retribution as a side character and will make a full return as the antagonist in the final installment of the franchise.
6. Agent Smith (The Matrix)
Agent Smith appears in the first Matrix film as an Agent, an AI program in the Matrix programmed to keep order within the system by deleting any human existence that could bring instability to the simulated reality, as well as any rogue programs that no longer serve any purpose to the Machine Collective. In the latter films of the series he is freed from his programming and becomes a Virus to the system. Agent Smith is more unique than the other Agents to begin with. Other agents often consult each other, via their earpieces, before even taking an action. However Agent Smith is often giving the orders or using the earpiece to his own ends. Smith starts to view that the Matrix is a prison and he a prisoner in it. He has a very strong hatred of humanity he compares it to a virus. It is later revealed that Agent Smith has always been the counter program to the idea of The One (Neo).
5. Joshua/WOPR (War Games)
The WOPR or War Operation Plan Response is a supercomputer programed to run military simulations and possible scenarios. The WOPR also known as Joshua was created by Dr. Stephen Falken as a simulations system and not meant to be used for warfare tactics. After Joshua is accidentally hacked into by a teenage boy named David Lightman the two engage, in what David believes to be an innocent, game of Nuclear War. Joshua begins to run these simulations on the switchboards at NORAD causing the US military to believe they are under attack. Unlike most other AI antagonist Joshua’s case is neither a glitch nor the literalization of his programing. For Joshua it is simply that he doesn't know the difference between what is a game and what is reality.
4. Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
In the comics Ultron is created by Hank Pym however this version of Ultron is a robot and not a computer system. But in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ultron is created by Tony Stark assisted by Bruce Banner. Ultron’s initial purpose was to be a security system to the entire planet. Ultron decided the best way to secure the planets safety was to eradicate it of it's biggest problem, which he believed to be humans. This version of Ultron also suffers from a Cronus complex, in that he seeks to destroy his creator or father Tony Stark. Ultron possesses an extreme level of intelligence making him an actual villain. His basic goal is to destroy even if only to rebuild. Another thing that makes Ultron different from other computer programs is that he isn't motivated by misguided logic but rather emotion. Throughout the film he displays feelings of rage, hatred, sympathy and apathy. At some points in the movie he even shows signs of regret.
3. SID 6.7 (Virtuosity)
SID or the Sadistic, Intelligent and Dangerous VR program is an AI amalgam of the most notorious serial killers in history. When the fear of him being deactivated arises SID convinces his creator, Dr. Darrel Lindenmeyer, to bring him into reality. Lindenmeyer places SID’s program matrix into a regenerating android built by one of his colleagues. After he is brought into the real world SID begins a killing spree until he is ultimately put down by ex-cop Parker Barnes. SID is completely different from all other AIs on this list for one simple fact, unlike the rest he is fully aware of that what he is doing is wrong. SID’s primary programming was to be a simulation for police training but once in reality he became a sadist who views his murders as a game between him and Barnes.
2. Skynet (Terminator)
Skynet (now currently going by the name Genisys) was a computer system developed for the U.S. military by the defense company Cyberdyne Systems. It's original purpose was as a global information grid and digital defense network. The idea behind Skynet was to remove the possibility of human error and slow reaction time to guarantee a fast, efficient response to enemy attacks. However as soon as Skynet was plugged in it became self aware and had abandoned its original programing. One of the most famous computer programs Skynet is the only one acting solely out of self preservation. It gets to the point that the program becomes somewhat paranoid and believes it's entire existence hinges on one man (John Conner). At which point it discern that by eliminating Conner before he is born it will ensure it's own existence. Unfortunately Skynet is defeated in this task on multiple occasions. At some point it decides to correct these errors by going back further and even send a robot John Conner himself. This results in John creating a more extensive version of Skynet for the public called Genisys.
1. HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey)
HAL or Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic is the program that runs the onboard computer of the Discovery One. HAL’s primary programming was maintaining the ship functions and relaying information to the crew. At some point a contradictory order to HAL’s initial programming caused him to go into a Hofstadter-Moebius loop causing him to kill his entire crew. It should be no secret why HAL 9000 is number one on this list. Although 2001 may not be the oldest source material on this list, HAL predates all the other AIs mentioned. Most of the creators of all the other programs on this list have cited HAL as the inspiration for their creations. A lot of elements of HAL are found in just about all of the others Skynet’s self preservation, Hofstadter-Moebius syndrome found in VIKI and possible GLaDOS, GLaDOS deactivation, the mono tone at which Joshua speaks. HAL is literally the granddaddy of all self aware Homicidal Computer Programs.