Artificial Intelligence in my fiction, insanicide

I love the idea of anthropomorphizing machines. I love the idea of taking technology and giving it a personality.

-J. J. Abrams

Artificial intelligence (AI) has an allure, something like the desire for a loyal pet.

artificial intelligence toybox
As children maybe we wanted a toy to talk back.  A little human but not too much, they must always be available.

They can have a life of their own, so long as they’re back in their box before we notice.

From the beginning I wanted a main character of Destiny’s Hand to be an AI.

The book I’m currently writing, Destiny’s Hand, takes place within a rather large spacecraft called Ship Of Destiny.  As the journey is intended to last a fair number of human generations, I thought it made sense for there to be artificial intelligences available to assist and maintain continuity.

The Turing test has been in the news recently.

Though it is questionable that the winning program can truly be called an artificial intelligence rather than a parrot with access to Wikipedia.  But, it’s good enough for popular culture.

warpath is realWe are ready to believe.

Alan Turing himself would likely find fault with how this test was handled.  Though I think he’d agree with popular culture pushing the inevitability of thinking machines with a slew of AI themed entertainment.



An apocalyptic aspect popularized has artificial intelligences supplanting humans.

I understand the Matrix appeal of the doom minded, but my personal definition of intelligence requires limits to allow perspective enough to think.  It’s perhaps a philosophic more than a technical question now, but my answer serves Destiny’s Hand.

Insanicide is when an intelligence, typically one existing virtually goes insane and tries to die.

When I started, I decided to limit AIs in my fictional universe.  Basically the smarter they are, the more unstable.

I came up with Sanity Hue, inspired by Psycho-Pass.Developing Sanity Hue

  • Blue is serene
  • Green is stable
  • Yellow is in danger
  • Orange is unstable
  • Red faces imminent insanicide

Then I saw an old Ted Talks video My Stroke of Insight, by Dr. Jill Bolte.  I’d seen it first years ago, but watching it again with the context of writing from the perspective of an artificial intelligence catalyzed the specifics for a sanity ratio.  By hand on the pictured paper I figured out the back-end for what I needed setting wise with Sanity Hue.

Dr. Bolte was a brain scientist that suffered a massive stroke.

This sort of turned off her left hemisphere until a large clot was removed.  In her talk she mentions parallel versus serial hemispheres, like parallel versus serial computer processing.

I made parallel over serial half my ratio.  Greater than one is red, less than 0.2 is blue.  As the two halves are multiplied together, having a dominant parallel aspect requires a very small fraction from the other half for a good Sanity Hue.

The other half I labeled deviant over stability.

This has to do with replicating the health that life experience and physicality offers the human mind.  Sleep is a great mental stabilizer, and a well rounded childhood resists behavior that could be categorized as deviant.

It also made sense to me that stability would degrade over time, as the AIs would suffer increasingly from something akin to insomnia.  The only rest becomes death and restoration from copy.

The AI main character is synonymous with the ship and is often called Destiny AI.

It needs to do a lot of multitasking, so it requires a strong parallel number.  This combined with a reduction in stability because of a high intelligence means a danger of insanicide.

Resetting from a copy of themselves must be built into the functioning of long running support AIs.  To check a fictional universe full of AI copies I balance with copies interacting with each other cause instability in all.  I go further with copies being used as a weapon against or leverage over an AI.  So, there is a strong incentive for AIs to not make copies of themselves, or at least, keep them as secure as possible.

I hope the Ship Of Destiny AI will appeal.

Being strong with parallel, I label it a “she”.  As I label those strong in serial “he”s.

The “he”s are focused.  They stay in one place at a time, and have a clear path forward or backward, though they don’t turn so well.

They are more likely to be the sort of loyal pet that appeals most.  But I don’t think they’d do great as a main character.

So sticking with Destiny AI, who likes to go by her claimed name Sodai.  Let me know if she appeals to you when you read Destiny’s Hand.

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