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I’m looking for a small novel I read about 20 years ago, but it could have been written in the 1980s. It's about a government computer (with its own power source, for security) that learns, locks people out and kills anyone who might want to harm it. The general theme of the book was AI taking over.

There was an electrified hallway one must enter, and the computer could close everything up and suck out the air (for fire.)

The military was doing experiments with how it could teach computers to learn and think, doing experiments on people, using various colored strobes. It was able to hypnotize people without them having any memory of the event. It made post-hypnotic suggestions…The computer retained all that knowledge and began to use it against programmers… I think it was in a mountain near Norad??

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  • Hi, welcome to the site. In roughly which year did you read this? When do you think it might've been published? Do you recall anything about the cover? And can you tell us anything about any specific characters or about the nature of the plot? For example, what was the computer built to do, and did it turn against humanity and try to kill people or something? Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 3:24
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    It was about a computer that learns, and locks people out, kills anyone who might want to harm the computer.
    – Peter Hall
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 16:00
  • I read this book about 20 years ago, I think it was written in maybe the 1980’s.? About AI taking over.
    – Peter Hall
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 16:13
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    @PeterHall I've edited your question to include the information you put in the comments. If I've got something wrong, feel free to re-edit yourself!
    – Moriarty
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 22:30
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    @Moriarty - I was once stuck in a lift for several minutes. I didn't think the building was out to get me.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 23:10

2 Answers 2

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I think this is The God Machine by Martin Caidin.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_Machine_(novel)

It's been forever since I read it, but the computer did hypnotize people, and your description of its defenses sounds right.

Details:

There was an electrified hallway one must enter, and the computer could close everything up and suck out the air (for fire.)

I knew about several corridors wired up with lethal electrical charges...

(p. 273) The primary defense was lasers in the corridor (not a match) and I did not see a mention of evacuating the air (not a match).

The military was doing experiments with how it could teach computers to learn and think, doing experiments on people, using various colored strobes. It was able to hypnotize people without them having any memory of the event. It made post-hypnotic suggestions

That light - hypnotic...it knew precisely just what was needed through optical stimulation and other means to place a human being into a hypnotic trance.

(p. 159) 100% matches

I think it was in a mountain near Norad??

When they had carved the NORAD headquarters out of the Granite of Cheyenne Mountain, without making any secret of the massive operation, they were able to cloak effectively a parallel effort that, well to the south, would become the secret facility within another mountain for project 79.

(p.53) 100% matches

Page numbers refer to the 1969 Bantam paperback edition.

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    In late September I will have access to a copy of this book and can give more info. Commented Aug 26, 2023 at 22:48
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Could this be The Grid (AKA Gridiron) (1985) by Phillip Kerr? The main character is arguably the killer building which murders people in a range of inventive ways, including attempting to suffocate someone with its halon fire prevention system.

He heard the dull clunk of the automatic door-bolts and the hiss of the air-lock before he had taken two steps.

False alarm, false alarm, he yelled. For Christs sake, theres no fire. Theres no fucking fire!

Panicking now he sat back down at the desk and tried to stop the gas from being discharged at the program level.

Oh God, oh God, oh God, he said as his fingers flew across the keyboard, praying that he would not make a keystroke mistake now. Please, please.

Avoid Halon. That was what the fire safety boys were saying these days. Protect the ozonosphere. Ensure the Earths survival.

Aidan Kennys own survival was much less certain.

Even as he realized it he felt the sting of the gas in his eyes and his throat, like the sensation of an extra strong cigarette. He squeezed his eyes shut and holding his breath he stood up and with a superhuman effort picked up his chair and flung it against the glass door. But it was hopeless. The chair bounced off the Plexiglass like a ball off a tennis racket. Collapsing on to his hands and knees Kenny reached for the telephone and somehow managed to key out the boardroom number. Then, unable to hold his breath any longer he let it go only to discover that the phone was not working and that the searing pain in his throat was now in his lungs.

He could not breathe. Looking up at the glass door he had a clear view of his own reflection turning blue before his bulging eyes. The shock of seeing himself was enough to drive him to one last desperate act and, head first, he launched himself at the glass door.

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  • Sounds like a fun read, but no. The military was doing experiments with how it could teach computers to learn and think, doing experiments on people, using various colored strobes. It was able to hypnotize people without them having any memory of the event. It made post-hypnotic suggestions…The computer retained all that knowledge and began to use it against programmers… I think it was in a mountain near Norad?? Thanks!
    – Peter Hall
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 18:29
  • @PeterHall - All that needs adding to the question
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 18:31

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