All the AI in fiction, and none that I came across thought it could be helped by brute-forcing language in statistical models.

What is the earliest example of large language models or something similar being used in Science Fiction from before GPT arrived on the scene (before 2018)?

  • 3
    Right now this seems a bit open ended. I would change this to something like "the earliest example of use of large language models in Sci Fi." It is a more accepted question form on here, it allows the answer to be a bit more targeted, and it gives the answer more trivia value.
    – Misha R
    Commented Oct 22, 2023 at 19:50
  • 1
    Maybe Shalmaneser, the supercomputer in "Stand on Zanzibar" (1968). At least this one is connected to all news and entertainment streams on the planet and synthesizes the available information into answers to all kind of queries (however I don't think it is explicitly described as using something LLM-like). Commented Oct 22, 2023 at 20:22
  • Thanks @EikePierstorff ! I will have a look at that. Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 12:19
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    What would you consider "similar" to a LLM? How would you establish that similarity from a textual description? And what if there aren't any previous to 2018, will you accept an answer from 2019?
    – DavidW
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 13:29
  • Would an AI model merely trained on a corpus of text count for the purposes of the question? (See eg "Be Right Back" from Black Mirror S2.)
    – Milo P
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 21:07

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure I understand your question correctly, but the 1963 Philip K. Dick short story If There Were No Benny Cemoli prominently features a homeostatic newspaper or homeopape (actually a future version of the New York Times), which gathers up news from across the world via "receptors" and compiles it in human-readable newspaper editions every day. A quote from the story:

An hour later a ship of the line had landed in the vicinity and its power source had been tapped for insertion into the homeopape. The conduits were placed, the circuits cautiously closed.

Seated in his office, Peter Hood heard far underground a low rumble, a halting, uncertain stirring. They had been successful. The newspaper was returning to life.

The edition, when it was laid on his desk by a bustling CURBman, surprised him by its accuracy. Even in its dormant state, the newspaper had somehow managed not to fall behind events. Its receptors had kept going.



  • 1
    There is no evidence that this is using a LLM, and indeed it's far too early for that idea to possibly be applicable.
    – DavidW
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 20:22
  • @DavidW: but interesting and prophetic as usual on PKD's part. I wish he had lived to see, for example, BR2049, how thrilled he would have been.
    – releseabe
    Commented Oct 31, 2023 at 0:13

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