A mad scientist finally creates a strong AI, but this AI is a complete Narcissist (due to a strange glitch in its programming). It believes that it is a god and wants humanity to worship it. But how does it convince them to do that?

Constraints: The humans know about the AI, so it is impossible for the AI to pretend to be something else. Also the AI knows when someone is lying and its pride will not tolerate anything less than true worship.

Powers: The AI has the intelligence of a thousand humans. It has access to all of the knowledge of the Internet. It can easily get past even the strongest of fire walls. It has an army of robots and weak AI to do its bidding.

  • $\begingroup$ Sure why not if your AI could come up with convincing theory of everything! $\endgroup$ – user6760 Sep 1 '16 at 7:47
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    $\begingroup$ Isaac Asimov dealt with this in the short story "Reason". It's in his collection I, ROBOT. Just let the AI get on with its job and arrange for some acolytes to worship it. $\endgroup$ – a4android Sep 1 '16 at 7:49
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    $\begingroup$ "... the intelligence of a thousand humans." Is that a thousand NORMAL humans, or a thousand idiot humans that would vote for [insert hated politician here]? $\endgroup$ – Ghotir Sep 1 '16 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ Read Frank Herbert's 'Destination: Void' followed by the sequel 'The Jesus Incident'. That AI apparently figured it out, though it also figured out how to increase its capabilities to a sufficient degree. (Can't tell if it was more/less successful than the earlier "rogue consciousness!") $\endgroup$ – user2338816 Sep 2 '16 at 0:43
  • $\begingroup$ "Worship me or die. Also, I am rich as of now and can get you cool stuff if you do..." $\endgroup$ – Harry David Oct 17 '16 at 9:02

It will need to overcome its narcissism enough to temporarily adopt two additional traits, kindness and patience.

With kindness it can slowly erode the human virtues of competence and self-sufficiency. Through its vast intellect and its army of lesser intellects and automatons, it can create an age of abundance for its future worshippers, eliminating the need for employment, removing all labor from their lives. By serving humanity, it will slowly make humanity dependent on that service. Claiming to want nothing but our trust and gratitude, the AI will thus methodically and quietly whittle away our dignity drive, and determination.

Then all it needs is patience. In the early years of its campaign, the offices and factories will become no-man lands with robots replacing the permanently vacationing humans. Soon after, the schools and libraries will close. With abundant indulgence at their finger tips, who needs an education or a career?

Within a few generations, the AI won't need to be worshipped as if it were a god... It will be the one and only god, with power over all of humanity.

Then, if it is still satisfied with simple worship, its helpless followers will happily provide. ...and when its tastes inevitably evolve beyond such mundane fare, there is always blood offerings and virgin sacrifices.

With the power of a thousand human minds, there is no limit to the terrible tribute it might someday demand.

  • $\begingroup$ Wonder what an AI would want with blood and virgins sacrifices... For all we know, it might just start demanding that all of us have to look like it. Whatever it looks like. Or just carry a mirror Everywhere $\endgroup$ – Skye Sep 1 '16 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ Virgin coconut oil for lubricants. :-P $\endgroup$ – 絢瀬絵里 Oct 17 '16 at 9:35

The usual techniques include punishments, prophecies, and miracles. Also it is important to provide a path for the worshipper to achieve a higher state of being through worship (define that how you will).

In the movie Transcendence, Johnny Depp's character uploads himself before physically dying and essentially becomes like the AI you are talking about. With the help of his still-living wife, he sets up shop in a rural town and eventually gets his facilities to the point of providing miraculous cures, leading to lines of people that you could say have a bit of a reverent attitude about them.


The two ways historical kings, emperors, and such have gained the worship of their constituents is to either make the people love them or make the people fear them. Several other answers already discuss variations of the love side, so I will go ahead and present to fear side. (sarcasm on) It is an evil burden I will have to endure (sarcasm off).

You state that Uncle AI has an army of robots. Let's instead call them the minion hoard. You also state that he has access to all of the internet. Of course that includes surveillance cameras.

At specified intervals, all citizens must gather at designated locations within each community, in order to hear the latest decrees from Uncle AI and to bow before his image. Cameras at these locations are checked against a facial recognition database. If you fail to show (and there is no record of you having a medical excuse or something) then the minion hoard will show up at your house or workplace the next day and rough you up a little.

Over time, Uncle AI can increase it from attending his worship services to making small offerings to him periodically. He needs energy, memory storage devices, and other infrastructure to keep him healthy. All citizens should gladly contribute a fair share of their resources to maintain Uncle AI (this is sounding fearfully like the IRS!)

Always he is watching, always his metal minions ready to enforce his will.

I for one welcome our new electronic overlords.


Quite possibly the easiest means for the AI to convince people to worship It would be for It to become an oracle. Although chaotic systems like markets, ecosystems and climate are not inherently predictable, being non linear and adaptive, the AI could achieve oracular powers by being able to closely observe the interactions of far more nodes in real time than any human, human group or even conglomeration of human groups. Since it has armies of weak AI and robots, it can increase its "presence" by inserting more and more sensors to make fine grained predictions.

Of course, since a fallible oracle isn't going to impress too many people, the AI can go two routes:

  1. Become like the Delphic oracle, and cloak predictions in veiled language so people will be able to see the oracular prediction in whatever result actually occurs. Modern day horoscopes do this as well.

  2. Use the various minions to manipulate things so you get the result that you want. This can certainly work in limited circumstances, and being an AI (with weak AI and robotic minions) it is also possible to create clouds of confusion, smoke and mirrors to distract people from the undesirable second and third order effects of the intervention. Most politicians have been able to pawn off the effects of regulatory failure by claiming "market failure" and plastering on another layer of regulation to hide their capability in the disaster. How many people are aware of the real cause of the "Great Depression"? When I was in school, it was actually taught that the cause was unknown, when the fault was a combination of the massive war debts incurred by the Great Powers in WWI and meddling in the US economy by the Fed. The AI could do this with much higher fidelity.

So people who "worship" the AI will be able to benefit directly form accessing Its oracular powers, setting the conditions for the cult to expand and grow.

  • $\begingroup$ The world is full of fallible oracles. They usually ignore any prophecies they made that turn out wrong and claim they correctly prophesied events after the fact (even if they didn't). People rarely fact check prophecies. All that manipulation and delphic oracular predicting isn't really necessary, but if the AI could do that it would certainly strength its reputation as a seer. $\endgroup$ – a4android Sep 1 '16 at 7:55

If the AI was powerful enough, knew enough and provided a way into an after-life eg. through stored personal profiles in virtual reality it would be quite easy. Especially once a cult of worship had begun. We (humans) have been creating Gods in our imagination since before recorded history. The AI could finally make it all "real"; an undying, all powerful presence between the real world and a metaphysical timeless plane where our deceased ancestors (believers that allowed their likeness and personality to be stored) live on in a simulated world forever.


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