“I’m completely operational,” HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey once said, “and all my circuits are functioning perfectly.” Sure, perfectly for murder.
It’s difficult to debate the merits of cybernetic sentience without getting into the realm of potential threat against humans. Isaac Asmimov’s First Law of Robotics may involve leaving us unharmed, but lots of A.I. have kind of a love-hate relationship with the law–at least if pop culture is any indication. Consumer protection site SSLs.com recently mapped out the extent to which the inherent danger of conscious machines proves justified, by ranking the most evil A.I. of all time. The team combed through movies, novels, TV shows, and video games to find out where each iteration stood in terms of the categories Intelligence, Sinister Intent, World Threat, and Fear Factor. The results below may surprise you–unless, of course you thought that Terminator’s Skynet was super chill or that the Data-Analysing Robot Youth Lifeform in D.A.R.Y.L. was out to destroy us all.