Quick search : 
Subluminic speed
Space opera
Not far from now
Robots and AI
Short term evolution
Long term evolution
Robots and AI
Robots and artificial intelligences

Hal, the computer integrated into the Discovery vessel, in 2001 a Space Odyssey, seems a prototype of artificial intelligence, developped at the point to ensure the maintenance of the spacecraft on the way for Jupiter. Hal plays a part of an major importance for Discovery: he exerts a constant monitoring on all the navigation systems, he ensures the survival of three scientists plunged in a state of hibernation. Moreover, Hal shares with the deadened scientists the true goal of the mission of Discovery, unlike the two human pilots who think of leading a simple mission of exploration.

With the difference of the Hal computer in 2001 Odysée of Space, the artificial intelligence which ends up taking the control of the vessel does not exist at the beginning of Destination the Empty novel of Frank Herbert. In fact, this book tells the awakening with the conscience of the whole spaceship, on the way for the solar system Tau Ceti, voyage from one duration envisaged four centuries.

The spacecraft transports a whole population of clones in hibernation, piloting and maintenance being ensured by a group of four specialists, called umbilical crew, until the orbit of Pluto. Then, a core psycho-organics (a brain without body, connected to the systems of maintenance of the vessel) must take over until the final destination, Tau Ceti. But the originators of the vessel envisaged all kinds of breakdowns, and in particular the death programmed of all the succeptibles cores psycho-oraganic to control the spacecraft until Tau Ceti.

It results from it that the umbilical crew has of another choice only to create a conscience artificial, only able to ensure during four centuries a monitoring of every moment on the systems of the vessel and not connaisant neither tiredness, nor fear. The four specialists were selected besides for their particular talents: there are a engineer-pilot, a doctor, a biologist and a psychiatrist-chaplain.

Each one of them has its personal vision of an artificial conscience, and knows elements on the finality of the mission, unknown of the others. In particular, the psychiatrist-chaplain has access to the system of self-destruction of the spacecraft, if the experiment conscience would give the day to an unverifiable and dangerous entity for humanity.

In the field of the artificial intelligences which take the control of the spacecrafts, one can also quote the news the Human Operators of A.E. Van Vogt. This account describes the way in which the human ones are used as operators of maintenance by spaceships having reached the conscience. The various generations of operators follow one another, until the revolt of a group of them.

Romain Dabek
Novels about this theme
L'Eve Future
2010 : Odyssey Two
Count Zero
Destination : Void
Hyperion volume 1
Hyperion volume 2
Logan's Run
Mona Lisa Overdrive
The Fall of Hyperion volume 1
The Fall of Hyperion volume 2
The Jesus Incident
The Lazarus Effect
The Planet Buyer

Amazon, the well-known on-line bookshop, provides SFPanorama with images representing the covers of the works mentioned in the articles

Drawer of the famous "bellaminettes" pinups, author of the "Sylfeline", comics, published by Dargaud

Copyright © 2007 SFPanorama