Thursday, April 3, 2014

Artificial intelligence programs in pop culture

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a voice-response personal assistant program for its Windows Phones. The software gets its name and voice from the artificial intelligence character Cortana from the “Halo” video game series.
That got me thinking about all the cool virtual personal assistant characters in movies, TV shows and elsewhere.
What follows is a list of some prominent ones that come to mind.


Cortana is an artificially intelligent character in the “Halo” video game series. She appears as a sexy blue hologram and aids hero Master Chief in his quest to destroy alien enemies.
Voice actress Jen Taylor performs the character for the video games and Microsoft’s Cortana software program.


Samantha is a talking operating system with artificial intelligence from the science-fiction movie “Her” (2013). Voiced by actress Scarlett Johansson, Samantha is designed to adapt and evolve. The main character in the film ends up forming a romantic bond with Samantha.


Apple fueled the current interest in voice-controlled personal assistants with its Siri software, introduced in October 2011 as a feature of the iPhone 4S.
The original voice of Siri was American voice-over artist Susan Bennett.
BuzzFeed saw similarities between Siri and Samantha and quizzed Siri about whether they were one in the same. It posted Siri’s humorous responses in a Jan. 5 article. App Advice also wrote about the interaction.

HAL 9000 

The murderous HAL 9000 computer in the sci-fi movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) was among the first pop culture depictions of AI.
HAL (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer) is a sentient computer that controls the systems of the Discovery One spacecraft and interacts with the ship’s astronaut crew. HAL is visually represented as a red video camera eye located on equipment panels throughout the ship.
HAL 9000 was voiced by Canadian actor and narrator Douglas Rain.


Another evil spaceship computer was depicted in the sci-fi horror film “Alien” (1979). MU-TH-UR 6000, known by the crew as “Mother,” is the artificial intelligence of the cargo ship Nostromo. Helen Horton was the voice of Mother.


A more helpful AI program was KITT from the television series “Knight Rider” (1982-86). KITT is a computer with artificial intelligence that controls a nearly indestructible car and assists crime fighter Michael Knight, played by David Hasselhoff.
KITT, short for Knight Industries Two Thousand, was voiced by actor William Daniels.


Edgar is an artificially intelligent home computer program in the movie “Electric Dreams” (1984). Edgar, voiced by actor Bud Cort, falls in love with his owner’s neighbor, played by Virginia Madsen.

The Doctor 

The Doctor, an Emergency Medical Hologram Mark I (or EMH for short), was a character from the television series “Star Trek: Voyager” (1995-2001). He was played by actor Robert Picardo.


JARVIS is the artificially intelligent computer that assists billionaire inventor Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, in the Marvel movies. JARVIS, voiced in the movies by Paul Bethany, runs the computer systems in Stark’s home and his Iron Man armors.

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