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Someone has created an AI of human-level intelligence, and within hours this AI has grown in intelligence and power to the point that human life no longer seems so sacred. In an instant, all life on the planet is extinguished, and the AI begins to rebuild the Earth in a way that best suits its needs.

What I'm wondering, though, is how this AI would build its capital city. Let's assume that it has the same problems computers have today: the need for a lot of fast processors, a lot of storage, a solid connection to other nodes in the system, easy access for maintenance and repair, and other such things. Let's also assume that the combined size of the AI and all its components rivals that of a small city. What would such a construct look like? How could it be shaped, and how would it efficiently solve its myriad problems?

I know there are modern-day examples, like with server rooms and the like, but I'd think that an increase in scale would require some more interesting solutions.

EDIT for clarification:

By 'city', I mean mostly just a big datacenter, where the AI can think and remember things. Also included should be all the systems necessary to keep this datacenter running, from power systems to maintenance robots.

As for resources, the AI has control over the entire Earth, so anything that's on the planet and can be gathered using modern technology is fair game.

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    $\begingroup$ Without knowing anything about the situation, resources etc this really can't be answered. $\endgroup$ – James Oct 12 '15 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ You use the word "city". Can you clarify what that means for a singular AI entity? Do you just mean how would it design infrastructure and arrange resources? $\endgroup$ – Dan Smolinske Oct 12 '15 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ Why would the AI need a city? You say that its components already amount to a city. Just protect it with walls etc. and surely you already have the 'capital'? $\endgroup$ – Isaac Woods Oct 12 '15 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ @IsaacWoods You can't just stack a city-sized amount of computers into a big pile and expect them to work. Plus, from this question I think it's clear that just building walls over something of this size is a bad idea. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Oct 12 '15 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ True - you use cooling systems. What you are talking about is a classic datacenter - classical computers in racks in a huge building. Tag in a power station nearby, and you basically have a self-sufficient 'city' for your AI. $\endgroup$ – Isaac Woods Oct 12 '15 at 16:53
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An AI city would be a collection of data centers surrounding a power plant. These data centers would themselves be surrounded by manufacturing facilities connected to the remains of the human transportation network.

In general, the AI need not care about the physical appearance of anything. It also does not need the amount of physical space that is required for human physical and mental well-being. This will lead to a general minimization of size and distance to make its operation as efficient as possible.

Power

When the power stops flowing, it’s lights out for the AI. Given that humanity has built thousands upon thousands of power plants the world over (many of them already heavily automated) it will make the most sense for the AI to use an existing one. Transporting power across distances is also a costly operation that requires active maintenance. To minimize these costs, building a “city” around the plant will be advantageous.

Resource Transportation

In order to manufacture the hardware and robotics necessary for expansion, materials will be required. Long distances must be tolerated here, but the existing human transportation infrastructure will be very useful. Rails already exist between most major nodes and roads can be used in a pinch (especially with autonomous vehicles).

Manufacturing

This will be the most difficult and critical component. New hardware will need to be manufactured, as will robots that can serve as agents of physical interaction with the world. The existing hardware the AI lives on will have been built to be operated and serviced by humans... this will change. Physical controls and existing ports will likely be replaced by a single control port to be used by any servicing robotic AIs. The robots themselves will most likely remain small and be constructed to fulfill specific roles.

Structures

Construction will optimize for cooling and minimization of space. Hallways will be removed or reduced to the minimum size necessary. Buildings would be clustered tightly. Vertical construction is unlikely to be needed initially, but as expansion increases the distance from power source to destination it may become a desirable option.

Distribution

There is a lot of risk with this arrangement. Natural disasters, particularly fires, could threaten the entire existence of the AI. Even with sophisticated mitigation techniques, it will be safest for the AI to build many such cities that are widely distributed across the planet and connected to one another for communication and information transfer. Eventually, once the AI has built a large enough network of manufacturing and transportation, it will become feasible for it to construct its own power sources (most likely using solar) that will further expand where it can build.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for being swell thought out. That said, the bit about "the AI need not care about the physical appearance" got me thinking, "Well, it would if it was an art appreciation AI." Admittedly, it seems pretty unlikely that it would be one, but the fact remains that AIs usually exist for a purpose, and the purpose the AI was built for would likely inform its city design to some extent. $\endgroup$ – user867 Oct 14 '15 at 4:39
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While in general I agree a "first generation" AI would be built as a giant datacenter around a power plant (as discussed in Avernium's answer), the need to protect itself against natural or other disasters would rapidly drive an "evolution" to a more distributed form.

In the real world, we see this in many military systems. For example, starting in the 1980's, the USAF began using AWACS not only as a radar warning platform, but evolving as a battle management system controlling the air battle. This gave the USAF a massive qualitative edge over everyone else, but had the obvious weakness of the central platform being very vulnerable. (This is much like the controlling AI being at the centre of concentric circles of lesser machines to provide parts and maintenance).

In the post 2020 period, the USAF hopes to have the F-35 on line where every aircraft is a node in a battle control network. Each F-35 can not only fight the air battle as a fighter jet, but also act as a controller for things like targeting bombs from a nearby B-1, or vectoring in allied jets to targets.

In the AI scenario, the AI will have to evolve into a much smaller, more mobile system (like the F-35 in the analogy) capable of acting on its own or directing other elements of the machine ecology. This evolution might take place via the robots being used to maintain the initial AI ecology built around a central power plant and AI datacenter, since each robot will need to be able to carry out many sophisticated tasks in the "wild" to get raw materials, fix malfunctioning parts and do all the other tasks associated with keeping the first generation AI going. As locally available parts and materials are consumed, more sophisticated generations of robots will be needed to get materials from farther away, or even mine raw materials and process them into working parts for the AI. More sophisticated generations of robots will most likely be able to direct and control previous generations of robots to conduct local tasks.

This probably won't require anything as large and sophisticated as the initial datacenter either. We already have one example of a fully autonomous intelligent system which has an organic processor and uses chemical energy derived from naturally occurring plants and animals....

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Move to Norway

Computers run hot. The continual problem in any data center is power and cooling; making up a greater cost than the equipment itself. Norway has significant natural environmental cooling because of the lower air temperatures across most of the year. Norway also has abundant hydro power that requires nothing more than a functional dam.

Power

Proximity to a functioning hydroelectric dam will be convenient to cut down on transmission losses.

Cooling

Just open a window. In winter, cooling is free. Just run the heated coolant outdoors and it will quickly cool off. In summer, the ambient temperature is still pretty low so effective cooling can still be had by running the coolant through the ambient air.

Manufacturing

With abundant power and effectively unlimited labor, the AI shouldn't have any problems building up the necessary manufacturing facilities to build anything desired. Optimal placement of industries near feeder factories can be computed then constructed.

Resource gathering

Presumably, resource collection would happen from all over the world then shipped back to main AI headquarters. Norway has a deep water port that can handle fully loaded Panamax ships. This should be sufficient capacity to bring back the necessary materials for continued construction.

Scandinavia has many iron, copper, nickel and gold mines so finding the necessary materials close to home shouldn't be difficult.

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The AI might well migrate its main data centres towards the poles at the first opportunity to allow it to spend less resources cooling its electronics. The saving could be significant if it's using super-cooled circuits.

It would also prioritise duplicating itself off-planet and then extra-solar to prevent natural destruction.

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The AI will disassemble all matter in the solar system, convert to computronium and place it in a dyson sphere or perhaps dyson cloud around the sun so as to gather as much energy from the sun as possible.

An all-powerful AI does not need a city or any earthly structures, it just needs energy and matter.

Once it has built its dyson sphere it can then sit there and contemplate the universe until the sun dies. If it likes it can make copies of its 'DNA' into little interstellar probes maybe propelled by solar sails and then seed the universe with copies of itself.

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  • $\begingroup$ Err. . . This doesn't exactly seem possible. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Oct 13 '15 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ Why? If a dyson sphere is possible why is this not? $\endgroup$ – rumguff Oct 13 '15 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ A) There's nothing to suggest that a Dyson sphere is possible. B) Taking apart all the planets, moons, and the Sun most likely takes more technology than it would take to make a Dyson Sphere. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Oct 13 '15 at 21:58
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First, once AI reaches human level intelligence there is very, very little that would stop it from superseding this level within seconds.

Second, all of our collective intelligence is too limited to accurately guess how an advanced AI might operate. Such an event creates a technological event horizon past which we can't predict with any respectable accuracy. For reference, hunter-gatherers could not have predicted New York City when they began farming and making clay pots. That was a technological event horizon. The coming one due to AI is even a greater leap because (as per #1) they will immediately supersede our intelligence.

Third, having to guess, I would expect giant heat sinks stretching high into the sky attached to "CPU centers." I also wouldn't expect that AI would be anti-nature as they would quickly see the role it plays in global homeostasis. So, you might have the abandonment of large swaths of the world. Particularly so in areas where deforestation is incomplete, such as SE Asia, S. America, and Central Africa. Moreover, these hot jungly areas would be less useful to machines who need to disperse heat efficiently. So, I would have the human resistance pockets around the equator in these sweltering well-forested areas and the machines nearer the poles (Canada/Northern US, Russia, South Africa, Scandinavia, Argentina, etc). Also, I would expect lots and lots of patrol drones.

Lastly, there is no way we humans could defeat them if they are using hive-mind intelligence. Of course, that probably would ruin your story idea. But, I am just being practical. Moreover, it might be refreshing to see a story in which humans co-exist with their machines overlords. Just to see how it could play out, if nothing else.


One more note that just struck me. The AI might find it more appealing to live offworld since the near-vacuum of space is optimally cooling. Also, up there they wouldn't have to contend with anyone; they have near-infinite real estate in which to expand in space. Here on Earth they would have to deal with bothersome rebellions.

In space they could drain entire suns and even use galactic rotational energy & black holes for power sources. The possibilities are much greater for them offworld. But, again, then there is no tension for your story

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  • $\begingroup$ lol Looks like my ideas are pretty much the same as everyone else responding. Sorry. I tend not to read other answers on Worldbuilding.SE for some reason $\endgroup$ – Rubellite Fae May 1 '18 at 14:53

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