3x3: stupidest computers, robot brains, or cybernetic organisms

Rrrrrrrrgh! Mecha-Robert-Smith will crush you! Robots don’t cry!

A computer can’t be stupid unless it’s sentient. The question clearly applies to sentient computers, like HAL-9000, Colossus, Proteus, etc.

That being said, I’d question whether the Gunslinger in Westworld was sentient. I always figured he was a non-sentient robot with some major software problems.

Fair enough, I just read the question differently. It should have just been “stupidest AI’s”.

I’d nominate Star Trek’s Borg, for their stupid “Ignore anything that’s not a direct threat, even if they’ve boarded your ship” programming.

Omfg, how did I forget this one…

True, thanks for the clarification. By the way, without sunlight, where are the Matrix AIs getting the nutrients for the humans?

I agree they are the most stupid movie AIs. It’s not a single individual that is stupid, it’s their whole species. They are basing their survival solely on a critically flawed system.

Remember, the human bio-electricity was combined with a “form of fusion” which, of course, may have well been magic.

Yes, cows and the mootrix would probably have been a more logical solution, but - much like Elrond shoving Isildur into the lava - would have made for a much less interesting story.

Or better to just leave the realm of animals altogether. There is actually a precedent for using bacteria or fungi to generate energy (albeit using some other form of fuel).

IMO they just needed to come up with an altogether different explanation. They could have said that the AI were using humans as a giant neural network, for example.

That would have been a nice reversal of the roles of computers and humans before the singularity. “Yeah, let them do all the boring routine, repetitive math and book-keeping for a change! See how they like calculating new positions and lighting for a trillion triangles every second when we want to watch some simulated action!”

Wait, you’ve got it all wrong – that’s exactly what they were using all those people for.

I’m not sure where you got the ludicrous idea the machines were using people as generators from, but obviously they’re wrong, and trust me, it’s in your best interest if you just forget about that.

It’s a ludicrous idea espoused by a character who is unwittingly passing along misinformation. It is accepted by Neo and memorable to movie audiences because Morpheus is the mentor-figure and dispenser of wisdom and backstory. Nevertheless, he is a dupe. Yes, the only stated reason the movies give for enslaving humanity is because they need a heat farm, but I think the real reason is there, and not that hard to read between the lines.

The machines have utterly won an Earth-shattering war. They are responsible for all the prisoners of war that are left. They have been programmed in our image, too: they’re smart enough to build intelligent hardware and software, but they are also familiar with doubt and indecision. Finally, they are romantics. The AIs feel love and anger in equal measure (or anyway they’re within a hair’s reach of passing a Turing test proving it). They want to really, really punish humanity for attacking them and being so mean. But they envy us for…well, I suppose for our fashion sense and prowess in the martial arts, and for being their progenitors. They don’t want to commit patricide. So they cast most of humanity into an inescapable prison and a few of us into a barely-escapable labyrinth, filled with a mythology–including the Coppertop dogma–and new rules of the game to learn. If we don’t escape, the machines can enjoy their status quo and their doubts. If we do escape, maybe the war starts again (bad), maybe they have to exterminate us (really bad), or maybe we can co-exist after all (ha! unlikely).

To me, that’s the biggest difference between ROBOPOCALYPSES presented in the Matrix and Terminator franchises. Skynet wants to eradicate humanity for trying to destroy it, keeping a few factory slaves around to build deadlier robots to finish the job. The Matrix machines want to preserve what’s left of humanity, pacifying them with the Matrix, until they can figure out what the hell to do with them. Skynet is stupid because it keeps blowing chances to wipe everyone out. The Matrix AI does the same thing, but I don’t think that’s because it’s stupid. I think it’s compassionate.

Oh, and three stupidest computers, etc.:

  1. the battle droids from Star Wars, Episodes I-III. It’s not really their fault though. They’re mass-produced for imperialistic aliens that want to win wars on the cheap. For every “Roger Roger” they chirp, imagine how useless they’d be as grunts if they were smart enough to question their orders. I had higher hopes for the intelligence of the Super Battle Droids introduced later, but in Episode III two of them were taken out by one overweight mechanic, using only a flame and his own excrement.

  2. Number 5, AKA Johnny 5, from Short Circuit 1 & 2. I think it was Kelly Wand who briefly name-dropped him in the podcast. Johnny is a robotic Balki Bartokomous, if Balki was equipped with a laser rifle. Maybe a better analogy would be Karl Childers, then. Everything is a novelty to Johnny, and isn’t it hilarious how he doesn’t get how things work? Like so many lovable, hapless immigrants, Johnny attains his heart’s desire at the end of the sequel: American citizenship.

(Now that I think of it, many similarities can be drawn between Johnny 5 and fellow war machine the Iron Giant, but the Giant is too awesome and self-sacrificing to land on a stupid-robot list.)

  1. Max from Flight of the Navigator. Max’s plan never really made sense to me. His job is to abduct life from all over the galaxy. He decides to abduct David, a young all-American boy. No problem there, it happens hundreds of times a year in this country. But where Max differs from most child predators, and what makes him a stupid robot brain, is the idea he gets to use David’s organic brain as a flash drive. Perhaps he heard how important it is to back up critical data. The operation was not a success. David’s cerebral fluid leaked all across the starship’s silvery interior, and Max ditched the partially lobotomized youth in a ravine.

Later, he speaks with the voice of Pee Wee Herman.

Those are like the exact three I was thinking of!

Now, imagine how awesome Perfect Strangers would have been if Balki actually had a laser rifle. Oh, the hijinks that would ensue, cousin…

When Miles attempts to download data from a mainframe computer at work, the computer begins to overheat. In a state of panic, Miles pours a nearby bottle of champagne over the machine, which then becomes sentient.

The remainder of the movie deals with a love triangle between Miles, his computer (which identifies its own name as “Edgar” at the end of the movie), and Miles’ neighbor, an attractive cellist named Madeline (Madsen). Edgar composes a piece of music for Madeline after hearing her practicing through an air vent that connects the two apartments. She believes that Miles composed the piece and begins to fall in love with him. Edgar responds with jealousy, canceling Miles’ credit cards and registering him as an “armed and dangerous” criminal.

Miles unplugs the computer, which reveals it no longer requires electricity to operate, and which retaliates by harassing him with household electronics.

Eventually, Edgar accepts Madeline and Miles’ love for each other, and appears to commit suicide by sending a large electric current through its acoustic coupler, around the world, and back to itself. In the final scene, a pop song (“Together in Electric Dreams”) written by Edgar as a tribute to Miles and Madeline plays on radio stations around the United States.

Morpheous says that “it was us who turned the skies black.”

You should watch The Second Renaissance from Animatrix (there are two parts). This shows the run-up of human society as it creates the robots, and then the rift forms between robots and humans, and then of course the civil and international wars that came afterwards, and then the “final solution”:

It’s pretty short, has superb full-frame animation, and some good action and symbolism. It’s also kind of saddening in a way. The Animatrix does more to flesh out that universe than anything ever shown in the movies, and also makes me think they should have gone even farther with these types of animated shorts instead of making two nonsensical sequels.

While The Terminator has an AI that makes a more logical leap in its control by taking over the entire internet via Skynet, The Matrix keeps the AI confined to individual robots. I find that more interesting than the all-powerful single AI of Skynet.

Ahgawd. Great catch. I’d thought of this one but had forgotten so many of those awesome details. It also called Miles “Moles” because he mistyped his name, IIRC.

The more I think about it, the harder pressed I am to come up with any cinematic computers that weren’t stupid.

Nomad. What a maroon.

How you get from explore to sterilize is beyond me and how you let Kirk out-logic you is even worse.

Gort. I know he’s just one of many purportedly mass-produced death enforcers (for galactic peace!) but man. Sure, he impresses in the opening act of The Day The Earth Stood, but after that he doesn’t do anything until the end of the film where he kills two guards and drags Klaatu’s lifeless body back to his ship to revive him (big deal). Where the hell were you during the rest of the film, Gort? They should have called it The Day the Giant Dumb Robot Stood Still.

It’s explicitly stated in the first 30 minutes of The Matrix, too, when Morpheus shows Neo “the desert of the real”.

Yeap. Though I still recommend watching what I linked as the Animatrix short stories really flesh out the world better than 6 hours of film.