Devangshu Datta: When the AIs win

The science fiction (SF) novels of Iain M Banks are set against the backdrop of an anarchic interstellar civilisation that calls itself The Culture. Insofar as it’s governed, The Culture is run by artificial intelligences, which are vastly more intelligent than humans.The Culture doesn’t have a currency. It doesn’t need one. Nobody has to work. The Culture is resource-rich and intelligent or semi-intelligent machines do any necessary tasks. Food, clothing, technology, transport, etc., are available for the asking.The concept of machines that are self-aware, auto-didactic and capable of outthinking human beings have been standard elements of SF for a long while. The examples range from the ultra-hostile Skynet, to the madly malign HAL9000 to the benign Multivac.Moral ambiguities aside, silicon intelligences currently outperform their makers in many ways. Programs are…

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