Our AI in question inhabits a synthetic brain housed in an organic and genetically modified human body (With a few other cybernetics). This body/brain combination was the result of a black project aimed to create super-soldiers (Why is it always super-soldiers?), and every synthetic brain produced as part of that project was populated with an actual brain. Synthetic brains are also used to treat certain brain disorders, but are incredibly expensive and with medical technology, generally not needed. The ones used by the black project are of a different make, of course, but largely indistinguishable. You can't have a secret operation if one scan your subject reveals they're really not human.

Now, we have an AI that inhabits one of these bodies. They are, however, given false memories, and their emotional/logical/etc programming is on par with what a human would think. Of course, they think better, clearer, faster than a human - But that can be attributed to the black project modifications.

The AI is aware that they were part of this black project, but are led to believe they are like the other "participants" in the project - Enhanced humans, for the most part. A few clones. A few genetically modified clones.

AI in general are rare, but known of. They typically occupy government and military positions, although a handful are useful to large corporations. The power of these AI is, of course, linked to the physical size of their processing unit(s). Think of a modern server farm - Sure, you CAN process stuff on your desktop, but running it in a server farm is much, much better.

Similarly, AI at a smaller scale is capable, but it isn't absurdly better than an actual human. For that you require large constructs. So, a human-sized AI wouldn't be extremely better than a human - Of course, they'd be good at math and logic, but there are people who have been ridiculously good and fast at those.

The AI believes they are "human" - But are given some form of argument that convinces them they might not be what they think they are. How would they go about proving they are (or aren't) an AI?

I realize a lot of what I've said seems to be in the vein of making them impossible to detect - But this is not the intent. It is simply there to restrict the AI to a degree that they could reasonably believe they are human - And so would others. Differences are detectable, with great effort.

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    $\begingroup$ Have you seen Blade Runner? Actually the testing process is explained better in the book. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ Somehow, no. I've been meaning to fix that, just never got around to it... $\endgroup$
    – Andon
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ You may be cracking open the philosophical question of what is/isn't AI, and whether or not you can consider AI to be conscious. $\endgroup$
    – Phiteros
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 21:29
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    $\begingroup$ "Why is it always super soldiers?". What? You think you're going to get a lot of funding for the other kind? "Evil Overlord, sir - we have a secret project for which we need funding!" "A secret project, eh? What kind of secret project is it, underling?!" "Ooooh, it's a Really Good One, your awfulness!" "And what, precisely, is it I'm being asked to fund?" "Ummmm...soldiers, your hideousness". "Soldiers? Those I got. What kind of soldier?!?" "Errrrr...wellllll...*inferior* ones, your ungraciousness!" "Really? You want funding for inferior soldiers. Well, at least that's new. And...no". :-) $\endgroup$ Commented May 7, 2017 at 4:09
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    $\begingroup$ Turing test extra credit: xkcd.com/329 $\endgroup$
    – Catalyst
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 17:26

5 Answers 5


If your AI is built on a different substrate (silicon rather than flesh), it would have different response characteristics to physical stimuli. Alcohol, caffeine, psychotropics -- it might emulate those responses in order to create a better human simulacra, but that emulation might be flawed enough to be noticeable by the AI. In particular, I think the very-rapid human response to adrenaline might be something where even your generally-faster AI might realize "Hey, it's not just that I 'hold my liquor well' and don't get addicted to heroin, I just don't jump at horror movies the same way."

  • $\begingroup$ Hey, I remember you! Your profile suggests that you're the same instance of Larry O'Brien I remember from CLM et al. Welcome to Worldbuilding! $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ Oooh, I like this. While it might not provide a perfectly solid answer to whether they are an AI, it could easily give them the reason to start questioning. An organic "uploaded" brain would function different than an artificial "Programmed' brain, even if using the same synthetic "hardware" for lack of a better term. Something that didn't affect them "Correctly" would really throw them for a loop. $\endgroup$
    – Andon
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 20:27

There is only one possible route; which I will describe below, but otherwise your conditions make the task impossible; unless "largely indistinguishable" means "difficult but not impossible" to distinguish. If they are smarter than humans and think they are human, then they think most humans are pretty stupid, and that anybody telling them they are non-human is just mistaken, and mistaking their clear fast biological thinking for something other-worldly. Because stupid humans are prone to attributing things they don't understand to magical or supernatural causes. Hence, religion and creation stories.

And in fact the word "genius" derives from the word "genii", just a few thousand years ago people attributed high intelligence to supernatural spirits giving the answers to great inventors and original thinkers --- Heck we still do it today, watch the show Ancient Aliens and they can't believe Einstein, Newton, Tesla and others could possibly be just humans solving problems, they had to be getting their ideas from telepathic extraterrestrials!

Without some tangible proof, you might as well try to convince an atheist that God exists. And that is what your question is asking, how do I convince a very smart and clear thinking human, that believes they are a human, and is indistinguishable from a human, that they are not human?

There is, therefore, only one way: The subject must be shown the black project and how all of that worked and why the changes are indistinguishable, along with some proof it was implemented and such AI are extant. Presuming the subject is smart enough to comprehend all of that, then you might be able to get him to the position of maybe he is an AI. But, he would also think, any smart person, including entirely human ones, would have to harbor some doubt, so it isn't a certainty at all.

  • $\begingroup$ "Largely Indistinguishable" does, in fact, mean "Difficult but not impossible" in this context. $\endgroup$
    – Andon
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Andon: In that case, allow this smarter-than-human AI to learn the difficult method, agree it is determinative, apply it to himself (or herself), and learn the truth that way. If you still want a twist, don't reveal the truth to the subject; have them become interested (and perhaps prejudiced) against such AI and intent upon eradicating them. This is why they want to learn the difficult method; they think they are human and want to eradicate the AI. Then they discover, like Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us..." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogo_(comic_strip) $\endgroup$
    – Amadeus
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ I don't want to have them prejudiced against AI - There are a number of AI that are central to events in a good way, and this character simply wouldn't work in a lot of situations if they were anti-AI. Otherwise, a similar plan. $\endgroup$
    – Andon
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 20:13
  • As suggested in a comment, the Blade Runner universe might serve as an inspiration. AIs in that universe are also indistinguishable from humans at first glance and are often unaware that they are AIs. But their thought processes have some subtle differences which can be exposed by monitoring the subject's body reaction while giving them a complex psychological test.
  • Considering that the black project's goal was to create super-soldiers, it might have be a sensible idea to program the synthetic AI brains with some memetic backdoors to ensure better control. Maybe there is some code word, image or other mental stimuli to make the AIs obedient and have them execute any order given to them. Demonstrating this would be a good way to prove that they are AIs.
  • Other than that, you could do some brain surgery. Open their skull and take a look at their brain. A synthetic AI brain will likely look far different than a biological one when seen up close.

If they go to see a neurologist saying they don't know whether they are human being, would they be refereed to psychiatrist or to software engineer?


What would be a result of running through a standard set of neurological tests? Would they have a normal EEG? Do they have a normal neurochemistry? Are there any standard test for discovering synthetic brain? (or exactly its model) Lumbar puncture? (or what is used in that era?)

Because for me standard seeing doctor could be the way to go. Actually the officially stated reason could not be "Am I an AI?" but trying to solve some minor problem (like annoying headaches) or just feel a bit different (like those untypical talents and just claiming to want they want to be sure they are all right).

  • $\begingroup$ By the time they even consider they might be an AI, there's already been a Bio-Plague Apocalypse and their role in that (Plus super-soldier biomodifications giving them more-or-less immortality) has elevated them, in the eyes of many, to a diety. (Which drives them up the wall). A diety doesn't exactly stop by for a doctor's appointment. But, then again, there's always disguises. Definitely an interesting thought. $\endgroup$
    – Andon
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Andon Are they going to do a job of supersoldiers surviving impossible situation? Because in such job there is a high chance to visit trauma ward (or its post apo equivalent) sooner or later. Would any of heroes suffer from any seemingly minor head wounds? Any doctor seriously doing his job, would simply not accept answer "I'm fine, thanks", because in shock too many people would say that. And later just seeing something weird, just run a long series of tests, just to be certain that there was no concussion or other damage. $\endgroup$
    – Shadow1024
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ Part of the reason for going to an artificial brain in the supersoldier project was to prevent traumatic head wounds. Soldiers function a lot better when their brain isn't being rattled around. Additionally, while this particular character is created by said supersoldier project, they are... "Liberated" before ever being utilized as a soldier (And that's how they got the AI in their head, too. Another character playing with things they shouldn't have. Again) $\endgroup$
    – Andon
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 21:19

This task is exceedingly difficult, yet possible

If your Super-Soldier AI needs convincing of something, there are ways, but they are quite ethically troubling, and possibly not what you want.

Any attempts to talk a person out of basic, lifelong held assumptions about their existence through logic is going to end in failure.

If your AI thinks like a Human, remember Humans care a huge amount about their reputation. From an evolutionary stand-point, brains exist for two very closely related reasons:

  1. Surviving long enough to reproduce
  2. Reproducing

critical thinking is not necessary in all situations, just some. Working together in a community that contains the opposite sex is so beneficial that critical thinking is less important. Bad relations with all others is really really bad news.

So, what you need is:

  • A charismatic leader, who knows the true nature of the AI
  • Some way for the AI to join the group of the charismatic leader
  • A period of isolation from anyone not in the group
  • Ideally, a way to make it seem to the AI that everyone they care about thinks they are an AI, or a way to make it seem like everyone in the group knows this

This is how Totalitarian regimes and cults are successful. They've managed to convince people of things much more outlandish than the fact that someone is an AI. (think Jonestown massacre, Nazi Germany etc). A really good example of this is the Asch experiment, which I would recommend looking up

  • $\begingroup$ There are a few religions which believe that humanity is descended from aliens, too. While such a large-scale thing is outside what can be done for this character, it's definitely something worth thinking about. The Asch experiments are also really neat things to read about. $\endgroup$
    – Andon
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 20:25

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