I was suddenly reminded of this when reading Story where an AI becomes self-aware by playing games, but the beginning of the book has a company where they are trying to develop an AI through natural selection and the way they do it involves subjecting the computers to some sort of annoying signal, which is audible to the team. (I don't know if it's a matter of that the signal actually was normally audible to both, or if they just had it set up as a "if the broadcast is active, play this buzzer sound" thing for convenience.) The bit that sticks out to me is that while the team is discussing how the process isn't working, it suddenly ends, revealing that they've succeeded.

Unfortunately, that's about where my memory ends. I recall the AI being capable, but not superhuman, at least at first, although they start using it to make business decisions and I remember there being some sort of corporate espionage going on with other companies trying to acquire the AI. It was a full length hardback, written in English, probably between 200-300 pages.

  • "submitting" should be "subjecting?"
    – DavidW
    Feb 2, 2023 at 22:35
  • This is making me think of Frank Herbert for some reason.
    – Andrew
    Feb 3, 2023 at 0:38
  • @DavidW: That would also be an apt word.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Feb 3, 2023 at 3:42
  • Also the answer here: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/253269/… though I didn't remember the detail of how the AI was created.
    – LAK
    Feb 3, 2023 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


I think that might be The Cybernetic Samurai by Victor Milan. It's been a very long time since I read it, but I do recall them using code that self adapts, and basically "annoying" it until it wakes up. A later AI in the same book is awoken through pleasure, not pain.

  • 4
    Bingo! I grabbed a copy off of the Internet Archive. They send random data at the program as the annoyance, and the sign that the machine has reached sentience initially seems to be a power outage, but turns out to have been caused by the A.I., dubbed Tokugawa. I was into both computers and samurai (we had a copy of the 1E D&D Oriental Adventures), so that would have definitely drawn me in. Thank you.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Feb 3, 2023 at 4:00

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