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Around 1980 I read a short story about the military's attempt to build an intelligent computer. The author put in several diagrams of how the computer would be made. In the story, the army keeps building what they hope would be intelligent computers but they keep blowing up, or disappearing along with the building they were constructed in. So they build a spaceship and to assemble the computer far away from people, and the space ship disappears.

The story is about one pilot of the space ship who assembles the computer, and it does achieve sentience, and takes the spaceship to a faraway planet. And the story ends with the now-sentient and all powerful spaceship telling the crew that it will take care of the people and will instruct them how they will in turn "WorShip" the spaceship.

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This is almost definitely Destination: Void (1966) by Frank Herbert. It's a short novel (190pp) instead of a short story, but it's an rewrite/expansion of "Do I Wake or Dream" a novelette published in Galaxy, August 1965. (Which has the same ending but omits the idiosyncratic capitalization of "WorShip.")

After many failures, including one that causes an island to disappear, a project is undertaken to create an AI on a spaceship so that it can't affect the Earth. The clones sent as crew on the ship are lied to about pretty much everything, and the situation is arranged so that they must create a workable AI in order to survive. The seventh attempt finally succeeds, and a true AI is created.

The story ends:

His voice rasping in a suddenly dry throat, Bickel glanced up at the vocoder, said: "Decision? What decision?"

"Flattery knows," said the vocoder. "You must decide how you will WorShip Me."

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  • +1. One of the books so laden with confusing psycho/technobabble that it nearly collapsed on itself. Frank Herbert got better after that. Also, and IIRC, it wasn't the military that ws in charge, but the worldwide AI research institute, clearly freed from ethical concerns (more like Demonic Intelligence Summoning Research Institute, amirite? Think SEELE/NERV but without the kids, but quite possibly with the Gendo poses) – David Tonhofer Feb 1 at 20:37
  • Btw, here is the cover of the french translation by illustrator Manchu (you don't have his books? get them now!) showing a very Tetsuo-looking Bickel intent on getting this AI live with the retrotech floating around in microgravity. – David Tonhofer Feb 1 at 20:46

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