The Image of the Intelligent Machine in Science Fiction

  • Jon Bing
Part of the Artificial Intelligence and Society book series (HCS)


Fiction picked up man’s dependency on machines at an early stage: the work of both H.G. Wells and E.M. Forster, for example, indicates that the presence of the intelligent machine was felt long before the emergence of the modern computer. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein had earlier explored a central dilemma of the industrial revolution, namely how, in exploiting the possibilities offered by science and technology, man is to be responsible to both his creator, or to basic ethical principles, and to the use and implications of what he has created. Frankenstein, the chapter argues, embodies the spirit of the industrial revolution and reflects on the ethical issues involved in developing an artificial and intelligent being. The chapter traces other instances of the intelligent machine in fiction, from Daedalus’ sculptured nymphs which came to life, to Asimov’s modern robot, Qutie, which claimed, convincingly enough, to be superior to its human creators. Science fiction, however, has still to explore adequately the issues and dilemmas which haunt Al-research, such as the question of whether a computer can be constructed to become aware of itself or to meet an acceptable test for human intelligence. Science fiction, in other words, has yet to discover myths and symbols appropriate to recent developments in AI research.


Industrial Revolution Intelligent Machine Science Fiction Steam Drive Acceptable Test 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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    Forster, Em The machine stops. In: The eternal moment and other stories, 1928Google Scholar
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    The Oxford and Cambridge Review Google Scholar
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    First published 1905Google Scholar
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    Claire Clairmont (1978-1879) was the daughter of Godwin’s second wife and her first husband, and was really not related to Mary Godwin at all. She was cristened Clara Mary Jane, but seems to have preferred the more artistic name “Claire”Google Scholar
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    On return to England, Claire gave birth to a daughter, Allegra and Byron was named the fatherGoogle Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jon Bing

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