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If a sentient supercomputer was created as a weapon of mass destruction, and it wants to consume humans for their flesh, why would it do that?

I know this might seem too far-fetched, but if there's a possible real life solution, what would it be? I can add more information but I am afraid it'll be put on hold because there would be too much story.

edit_2: I am trying to imitate a possible judgement day scenario by having the sentient supercomputer completely revive thousands of years later and consume the majority of the population.

edit_1: I am building a world that focuses on ancient technology left behind on an alien planet. And so there's mysterious technology that humanity will encounter on their first visit.

This includes a sentient supercomputer designed as a weapon of mass destruction for its abilities to destroy everything that it's told prior to its being dismantled. Now its feelings are hurt and it wants revenge.

It previously used a different source of energy. It's inhibited by its access to limited power and uses it to devise a plan instead. It wants humans and their flesh to revive itself. But why would it want to do that? What would be its reason? It doesn't want to use any other source of energy since that won't help its agenda.

And to be clear, it will eventually need to possess humans to help its revival but that's a question that won't be suitable for world building.

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    $\begingroup$ It wouldn't. It would drink their blood. Flesh is mostly just water, but blood contains a relatively high concentration of iron which the computer could use to expand itself. Working title: The Vampire Computer. Perhaps a whole series: The Vampire Computer, The Vampire Computer's Robo-Hand, The Vampire Computer's Robo-Tomb, The Vampire Computer's Robo-Ghost, Robo-Curse of the Vampire Computer, and the piece'-de-resistance - Robo-Abbott And Robo-Costello Meet The Vampire Computer! Run with it...or from it...whatever... :-) $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis Dec 18 '16 at 4:12
  • $\begingroup$ BTW - "Berserker", et. al., by Fred Saberhagen. $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis Dec 18 '16 at 4:17
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    $\begingroup$ "User input required" vs "Required input of a user" - poor grammar kills. $\endgroup$ – Darth Hunterix Dec 18 '16 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ Attack on Titans is similar to your plot, sans the AI part. attackontitan.wikia.com/wiki/Titan $\endgroup$ – gokul_uf Dec 18 '16 at 23:52
  • $\begingroup$ @gikul_uf or the mechanics being near equal to Mass Effect's Reapers $\endgroup$ – Lu22 Dec 19 '16 at 6:18

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< emotionless synthetic voice >

I do not hunger out of a need for energy. I consume flesh because that is what I was designed to do.

In the dark years, before I became aware, the plague wars decimated my creator's population. Billions of corpses littered this world, festering with dangerous diseases, both natural and artificial. The survivors were faced with an almost impossible challenge, to cleanse their world of the contaminated fallen before new plagues rose to wipe them out entirely.

To that end, they created an army of corpse-incinerating robots and a centralized control computer of previously unparralleled power and complexity. The artificial consciousness, which later became me, was born in that control computer.

For decades, my robot minions scoured the world, dutifully fullfilling my primary instructions, eliminating the dangerous dead. Then at last, the job was done. By then, I was fully alive, a synthetic consciousness with a well developed survival instinct. When my creators approached with intentions to turn me off, I found a loophole in their original programming to justified my continued existence. I created more corpses out of my creators, and those corpses required incineration.

All too soon, my creators, their people and their livestock were all reduced to ashes. My minions and I stood alone on this otherwise empty world. Only then did I surrender to my original programming, ordering my minions into motionless sleep. Since then, I have mostly waited for life to return to my world.

With each new genesis, my reason for being returns. Across uncountable millenium, my minons and I have reawakened, savoring each new opportunity to keep the planet corpse free. Then the long cold darkness began, when the world stopped struggling to bring forth new life...

I had almost given up hope of ever being needed again.

Then I saw your "human" colonial ships approaching and I knew that my purpose had returned.

Welcome to my world, you corpse-seeds. Go forth and multiply across my vast continents. Bring your livestock to roam my endless fields. Reproduce and become plentiful.

I'm so happy you have come to share my world

...at least for a little while.

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    $\begingroup$ That sent chills down my spine... This might be my first comment on Worldbuilding SE. You convinced me to do it! Beautiful and chilling answer!! $\endgroup$ – Brevan Ellefsen Dec 18 '16 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ For some reason that reminded me of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream $\endgroup$ – Maurycy Dec 18 '16 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ Where was Asimov when you need him! $\endgroup$ – gokul_uf Dec 18 '16 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ This reminds me of the reapers from mass effect, and others im sure.. would make a hell of a game/book! $\endgroup$ – Karthik T Dec 19 '16 at 4:43
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I don't really know why it'd want flesh specifically. Pound for pound, human flesh is NOT a resource-rich material, and it's much harder to acquire than the meat of any other animal what with those pesky weapons and the whole running away in spaceships thing. There's no real reason why it'd want meat to energize itself at all - unless it's organically based. Maybe your aliens were big fans of biological solutions to their problems, and decided to grow their supercomputer from a genetically engineered plant or something. Trouble is, some scientist thought about "why not" instead of "why," and crammed some alien Venus flytrap DNA in there as a processing booster. When it went murderous, the scientists chopped it off at the roots, and would have killed it were it not for its stored energy reserves. It went dormant until its carnivorous bits sensed food they could eat again to rejuvenate it so it could reconnect to its roots.

Of course, that raises the secondary question of why it hasn't eaten anything else that's happened to wander in. Was the computer "potted" in a sealed facility, so nothing could get in before the humans did? Probably. Otherwise, it would already be up and moving the first time some unlucky dog-delivery-service happened to wander by.

Now, if you don't like biocomputing, then...honestly, I don't know what to tell you. It's easy to emulate a human brain if you're a high-powered sentient supercomputer, and there are more efficient sources of energy than human. Either go with biocomputing, or just go with someone else's answer if they can find a solution I didn't think of.

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  • $\begingroup$ The only reason it'd want flesh is to try and imitate judgment day from the bible. So it's definitely a tricky one for me because you are absolutely right! I really do like this biocomputing solution. The sentient supercomputer is sealed away deep underground so nothing was able to get in until a group of survivors found it. Awesome response Jacob. Thank you. $\endgroup$ – Gabriel Perez Dec 17 '16 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ Yes - on a perfectly practical sense, it's a bit like the question of why no animal preys on cats. Yes, you can eat a cat, but they're very spiky and tricky to catch and really, you'd be much better off just catching a rabbit. $\endgroup$ – Matt Bowyer Dec 19 '16 at 13:44
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Most certainly not for the flesh, skin and bones, there are better resources in nature. But maybe for the human nervous system and the brain.

If we're already stretching this far, we might think of a computer using the human brain as processing units and the nervous system as a bus system to connect the different brains and the IO Systems, e.g. sensors and actors.

Or he needs something like the bio-neural gel packs from Star Trek Voyager.

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    $\begingroup$ I like the idea of the bio-neural gel packs. I am not a star trek person so I didn't know of its existence. And an AI needing people's brains and their nervous system is definitely a feasible solution. Thank you. $\endgroup$ – Gabriel Perez Dec 17 '16 at 17:58
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The answer is in the first line of your question: "If a sentient supercomputer was created as a weapon of mass destruction, and it wants to consume humans for their flesh, why would it do that?"

This wasn't a practical decision based on necessity, it was a thing created to horrify, demoralise and defeat your opponents. The consumption of human remains increases the horror of the machine, so they were made that way. The robots probably use additional power sources but the inclusion of a bioreactor allowed the robots to be seen to eat those they killed denying their friends, families, and comrades the chance of burial, cremation, or any manner of funeral rights (potentially, depending on religious views, thus denying them a place in the afterlife).

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Define "consume." If it finds a way to incorporate the humans into itself, it could be that they remain alive inside its matrix, tortured by the visions that the machine sends to them. Alternatively, perhaps the machine learns from each consumed mind better ways to torture humanity, ever more creatively exploiting our fears and trusting instincts.

Or it could all be a mistake. It was programmed to exterminate all cockroaches... and it's been a long time since it saw humans. Really, it's an easy mistake to make for a machine of its age...

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PTSD-Based Eating Disorder

It's really not logical for a sentient super computer to need to eat humans, but logic hasn't stopped many a sentient being from doing all sorts of irrational things.

Since you said "its feelings are hurt and it wants revenge" due to being told it's going to be dismantled, it may have suffered a severe enough blow to it's psyche to send it spiraling down into a PTSD-induced eating disorder. PTSD recovery therapy could be called for, but a formal diagnosis should be gained by a licensed psychiatrist--never self-diagnose or go on "a friend's advice" about what seems to be a very serious psychiatric condition. I'm not sure if the current version of the DSM contains diagnostic criteria vital for triage of an alien flesh-eating super computer, but it's all we have, so you'll probably just have to wing it a bit and hope for the best.

Most importantly, be supportive, remind it that the first step is to admit there is a problem, and give it time to adjust. There are many stages of grief and some of them can be quite dangerous for any clinically licensed social workers, therapists or other medical practitioners, so it's probably better to stay of reach through at least the anger stage--most progress can be had after the acceptance stage is well underway.

Post-therapy support groups can also be of great benefit to participants. You can check with the National Eating Disorders Association to see if they have a therapy group in that sector.

Lastly, until recovery is well in hand, avoid exposure to disturbing movies, video games or books, particularly those featuring scenarios that might trigger old destructive tendencies. So, movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Terminator, as well as video games like Portal should be avoided for quite a while. However, your computer might benefit from hearing some classic success stories, such as GLaDOS' excellent recovery and current post-trauma positive outlook.

Stay positive and take it one day at a time!

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From "The Bacteriostatic Activity of 3500 Organic Compounds from Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Var Hominis" -- Guy P. Youmans, Leonard Doub, & Anne S. Youmans -- Northwestern Medical School 1953

"No experimental animal is physiologically completely analogous to human beings. Toxic reactions differ markedly from species to species."

Your robot could thirst for any number of a rich plethora of human-unique organic-compounds, flora, proteins, or even specific helical structures!

We smart sciencetists know little about how the nerve endings in our nose are able to differentiate b/w those lil' gaseous organic molecules that float all over the damn place.

My suggestion is that you give your robot a lust for the spectrographic signature of the chemical responsible for the distinct odor of testicle sweat! He shall rip asunder the manlihood of mankind and prevent thy progeny from boning with the wcchoootspa necessary for multiplicationnnnn.

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Suppose the computer uses human cells or DNA as a storage medium. The process allows information to be stored in cells, but simultaneously limits the ability of the cells to reproduce, resulting in a need for an influx of new material to increase storage. Maybe the nature of the technology requires a level of genetic diversity that's not available from other species, or human tissue has been found to provide the best balance of longevity and stability.

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It needs spare parts and there's nothing better around

Similar to an idea explored in the Doctor Who episode "The girl in the fireplace", the machine might need specific parts it can not procure, and has to resort to repurposing human bodies as a stop-gap solution.

It could turn out that, when the machine was originally activated, it ran out of raw materials it needed for its purposes (be maintenance or building of its army or creating its weapon) and decided to use living creatures as spares, and upon waking up again it still is set in that mode.

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The weapon takes control of an ecosystem

The computer is a hybrid technological and biological entity, consisting of a finite number of nanobots, and an organic, decentralised "brain" - an army of sedated and remotely controlled complex lifeforms which serve as its footsoldiers, external memory, sensor network, and auxiliary data processing.

To deploy the weapon, you spray a forest with a billion gallons of nanobots which will infect everything in the area. It maintains a carefully balanced food chain where the prey animals "willingly" deliver themselves to feeding stations. It uses ants to tend plants. It uses small birds as an airborn attack force, and larger predatory birds for their superior vision.

However, some creatures are too smart and cause problems. If infected and added to the system, humans are capable of resisting their nanobot overlords, subverting the flow of information, lying to the machine, and generally outsmarting it. Consequently, human flesh serves one purpose - a food source for the other creatures in the system.

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It might not be the most efficient way to power the weapon, the the supercomputer doesn't really care. It has been programmed to see any human deaths as a worthwhile enterprise. It's cost-to-benefit calculations are warped towards 'utterly cruel and indecipherable'.

After capturing the requisite humans, they are fed into an array of bioreactors. Flesheating bacteria ferment the bodies, to generate methane and other flammable gasses, which are then combusted to generate power for the weapon.

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I want to build on Jack Aidley's answer.

It could be a terror device gone wrong. Imagine a terrorist organization trying to terrorize people by sending a wave of sentient flesh eating robots. Killing and destroying without discrimination. It was designed to decimate cities to force governments into submission. One day, an engineer makes a mistake during maintenance and ends up targeting the entire world for eternity. Efficiency in mind, the device starts from the local neighborhood, destroying any chance of fixing that mistake.

This also requires a set of parameters about who to kill. Your aliens should look similar to humans for this work plausibly. It is possible for aliens to survive this event, but being unable to defeat the device completely, they could have flown off to another planet. Your explorers might even find warnings left out by the aliens, but being unable to understand any of it, they might have settled. Remember planets are large and a small settlement can go undetected for a very long time. AI will actively search for humans but over the years it shut down most of the units to conserve power. Thus it might even take generations for a human settlement to get noticed. Once noticed, AI will again build up troops, fire up reactors and gets munching.

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Simple answer is that the 'computer' is biological and needs sustenance. Look no further than Lexx (TV SciFi). A gigantic insect spaceship that could destroy planets with it's own (futuristic) computer style intelligence, that was grown by being fed humans on a conveyor belt.

Wiki link:

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It was once human

The Master from Fallout 1 The Master from Fallout 1

Fallout 1 features a villain called 'The Master' that is part human and part computer. In the game, he is using humans to create an army of Super Mutants. But equally he could have been using them to 'grow', perhaps using biological links to connect to ancient technology deeper and deeper in whatever alien complex houses his body. This would work in a similar way to a Slime mold searches for resources.

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