A call out for call outs

Hey small slice of the internet. I’m working with an awesome linguist, Anthony Stone of operativewords.com, on a project and since I don’t know everything but you do, I’m wondering if you can help. We’re collecting examples of scenes from more serious movies and TV shows where a human is interacting with a artificial intelligence primarily through speech.

Example 1

In the ST:TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror" Captain Kirk speaks with his computer to learn if the ship could be used to get him back in the "good universe." (This dialogue was featured in the Learning chapter of the book.)


Example 2: In the movie "Logan’s Run" Logan speaks with the Übercomputer twice: once for questioning about the ankh, and once to report his findings about Sanctuary.


There are others, but we’d like to collect as many examples as we can to get a good "corpus" to work from on this sooper secret thingy. But of course it’s in the service of a blog post, so contribute away, and we’ll thank you in the post once it finally comes out. What do you think: Can you name any?

24 thoughts on “A call out for call outs

  1. One that jumps to mind is the Forbin Project. Dr. Forbin initially communicates to Colossus (the giant supercomputer buried in a mountain) through text. Then, Colossus demands an audio system to be added so that it can speak directly to everyone, especially Forbin. Let’s say that the movie does not end on a high note.

  2. Just about every episode of Star Trek post-TOS that takes place in the holodeck (though you could argue that most holograms aren’t truly intelligent.)
    VGer, in the Star Trek Motion Picture.
    The Doctor in ST:VOY

    ED-209, in Robocop, used voice communication, but I don’t think it actually listened to voice commands.

    In Lexx, the crew includes 790, a talking Robot head, that communicates verbally. (Not that Lexx is a particularly serious show.)

    Knight Rider features Kitt, a talking car (which everyone just sort of seemed to take for granted.)

    The main antagonist in Oblivion is implied to be an artificial intelligence.

  3. Conversations between Sam and GERTY in Moon

    The Captain and the Axiom/Otto in Wall-E

    The various Aliens movies with each android

    Blade Runner and the Replicants

    …As a question on definition, are you just looking for fixed-point computer intelligence, where the system needs a person to come to them and ask/answer questions? Or are you looking for general intelligence, where a computer might have agency (i.e. Replicants, C-3P0, and other androids)?

    • Mostly the fixed-point kind. Once the computer is a full-AI there’s nothing “special” about it, it’s just a conversation between two characters. BUT, we’ll want to catalogue when that shift happens, so collecting every example we can.

      P.S. 50 midi-chlorians for the awesome nerdy clarification!

  4. Steve Silvas ‏@SilvasDesign tweets: Sigourney Weaver in Galaxy Quest, hallway computer access on Star Trek: TNG.

  5. Here’s an obscure one:
    “The Bionic Woman” Doomsday Is Tomorrow (1977)
    “She and a Russian agent meet fierce resistence, mounted by the Alex 7000, a computer Dr. Cooper has designed to hold back an rmy until the device can be activated, but Jamie pushes through, and discovers that thre is no doomsday device. Just as she is about to celebrate, however, the Alex computer informs her that he has a way to destroy the world after all, and intends to do so, since he was programmed to win at any cost. “

  6. In Red Planet, AMEE the kill-bot accepts verbal commands until she goes wonky, though she never speaks in response. Carrie-Anne Moss also talks to the orbiting ship’s computer a time or two, but only for Q and A.

    I don’t know if it’s “more serious”, but in Flight of the Navigator, David communicates with Max, an alien scout ship, mostly through voice. (Though he does occasionally fly manually.)

    Star Trek: The Next Generation is probably the most prominent example. Nary an episode went by without someone glancing up to the ceiling and asking the computer for something-or-other.

  7. It didn’t work out, but this exchange from Star trek VI:

    [faced with a 20th century computer]
    Scotty: Computer! Computer?
    [He’s handed a mouse, and he speaks into it]
    Scotty: Hello, computer.
    Dr. Nichols: Just use the keyboard.
    Scotty: Keyboard. How quaint.

  8. In seasons 2 & 3 of Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor and Diana Prince interact with the IADC’s central computer, IRAC (or possibly “IRAAC”) almost exclusively through voice.

  9. In the TV show Eureka, there’s S.A.R.A.H. the smart house and in later seasons Andy the Deputy AI (which except for convenient plot points is just a human character). They often yell at computers in the R&D company facility, but usually only when it’s malfunctioning is that interaction shown. There’s an episode or two with Fargo’s car as well.

  10. There’s an episode of the IT Crowd, pretty sure it’s season 1, where the boss *tries* to talk to his computer, but it doesn’t work, like that Star Trek thing with the mouse.

  11. “Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda” has the characters talking with the ship AI, Andromeda Ascendant (it also has a robot that it can use as a telepresence device).

    “Alien”, where the crew can speak to the ship’s computer, Mother, but the computer replies via text on a screen.

    The Star Trek episode “Return of the Archons”, where Kirk and Spock speak to the computerized version of Landru and it speaks back. Ditto “The Ultimate Computer” with the M-5 computer, and “The Changeling” with the Nomad probe. And The Oracle from “The World is Hollow, and I have Touched the Sky”. And the Beta-V computer from “Assignment: Earth”. There are others.

    In “Demon Seed” the computer Proteus IV speaks and understands speech.

    In “Rollerball”, the liquid computer Zero speaks and can understand speech.

    In “Demolition Man”, there’s the L7 computer that assists the San Angeles police dept. Also speaks and understands speech.

    If you include HAL-9000, don’t forget SAL-9000 from “2010: The Year we Make Contact”.

    If you want animated examples, there’s the “Batman: TAS” episode “Heart of Steel” with the AI HARDAC.

  12. In Blakes 7, the computers Zen, Orac, and Slave all spoke and understood speech.

    In Doctor Who, BOSS in “The Green Death” was quite chatty. I’m sure there are others, but that’s the one that sticks in my mind.

    • I just remember one AI, a bit iconic and loved by many: Robot B-9 of the Jupiter 2! Yes, the Robot from Lost in Space develops through the series from a strict expert system to a full blown sentient.

      And that reminds me of the other robot that its mistaken for: Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet. Though Robby was programmed by a Philologist, so natural language processing would be second nature to him.

      That brings up another method of controlling a computer or AI: Direct Neural Interface. Or in the case of the Krell, mental commands and the Great Machine would deliver whatever they wanted.

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