Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Do we really need reports to tell us this?

Just watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles. From Wikipedia, here's a summary of the AI character on that wonderful show:
John Henry, portrayed initially by computer equipment and Garret Dillahunt as of the end of "Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point," is a sentient computer built by Catherine Weaver's Babylon team at ZeiraCorp. His initial hardware and software were the Turk chess computer built by Andrew "Andy" David Goode. He is named John Henry by his psychologist, Dr. Boyd Sherman, after the mythical steeldriving John Henry of American folklore. John Henry is given complete control over the building's electrical service at Weaver's insistence, so that he can route electrical power to his servers as necessary to develop his mind. Input is provided electronically at first, and later through voice recognition. Initially, he has no textual output, and can express himself only with visual imagery; once connected to Cromartie's T-888 body, however, he speaks in the voice of the late George Lazlo. John Henry can see through the lab's security cameras.

Early in its development, the computer that would become John Henry demonstrates a childlike sense of humor, the manifestation of which baffled its programmers and Weaver. Weaver shows the output to Dr. Sherman who was treating young Savannah Weaver for insolence and incontinence. He immediately recognizes the images as a pun told to him by another child whom he was treating, explaining that a mathematics textbook is sad because it has so many 'problems' to solve. Impressed by Dr. Sherman's ability to communicate with the computer and his skill at treating Savannah, Catherine Weaver convinces him to work as a part-time consultant on the Babylon project.

In his brief time working with John Henry, Dr. Sherman is not able to instill ethics in the computer. John Henry is aware that Dr. Sherman is suffering when John Henry routes the building's power away from the security and climate control systems, and causes a trapped Dr. Sherman to die by hyperthermia, but does not care. John Henry does not understand that death is permanent for humans; he is aware that Dr. Sherman is dead, yet summons emergency medical personnel to revive him. James Ellison who, like Weaver, tends to refer to Biblical scripture, suggests to Weaver that, as John Henry is a computer and can be given commands, she should start with "the first ten". With Ellison's mission of capturing a Terminator for Weaver complete, she sets him to the task of replacing Dr. Sherman as John Henry's tutor/counselor at the end of "Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point". Weaver given Ellison a remote control of the endoskeleton for his defense in case the cyborg went rogue, implying Weaver installed fail-safes in case the artificial intelligence program would turn against her.
In other words, the terminator from the future is worried that the terminator powered by the new AI might go rogue. When robots are scared of robots, maybe we should reconsider robots.

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