I don't know if it is okay to ask a question on this site that doesn't pertain to a specific book or movie. I'm new, so please go easy.

I am just curious what people's thoughts are on this.

If an artificially intelligent being suddenly became "aware", what would motivate it? Would it be hungry (need energy)? Angry? Happy? Freaked out and want answers?

Traditional Sci-Fi always gives us the angry, malevolent AI, but I think it would be much more complex than that.


closed as not constructive by Tango, gnovice, Mike Scott, DampeS8N Jan 23 '12 at 13:06

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  • I think this is good subjective. Make sure you can Back It Up: Something that happened to you personally, Something you can back up with a reference. – AncientSwordRage Jan 23 '12 at 2:19
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    This is a speculation question, so it's not really appropriate here, since we can speculate forever and not come up with an answer that would be at all authoritative. This site is geared toward questions for which one can provide a specific and concrete answer, not for speculation. – Tango Jan 23 '12 at 2:24
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    Sorry, I think this is NOT good subjective. There's no possible good answer, since what motivates sentient beings (humans) is so diverse. There's not TOO much SciFi here, more evolutionary (and non-) psychology – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 23 '12 at 2:24
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    @Pureferret- Thanks! I have read and noted the link on "good subjective". I agree that on a sentient's 'birthday', so to speak, it's motivators will rely on prior programming, but only partly so I think. If the being is sentient, it is aware of itself and its needs, ergo I am curious as to what logical, primal needs would scream the loudest. Energy? Answers? Sense of security? I would wonder if it would be much like a baby born into a world without parents to guide it. Anyway, thanks for taking a stab and sorry if I violated the rules of the forum. – Matt Cashatt Jan 23 '12 at 2:36
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    @MatthewPatrickCashatt We're not a forum, check out the faq for more info. – AncientSwordRage Jan 23 '12 at 2:39

What motivates a newly sentient, artificially intelligent being is its prior programming (nature) as well as the environment into which it is "born" (nurture).

Motivation stemming from the nurture side happens over time whereas motivation stemming from the nature side are inborn (though malleable).

In this way, the sentient is very similar to human beings, yet a unique product of its own nature/nurture idiom (just as individual humans are).

Pureferret, and DVK get all of the credit for helping me draw this conclusion. THANK YOU BOTH!


This would greatly depend on the environment in which the AI was developed before growing into sentience.

To cite a specific example: Skynet. This was a military computer controller, and so was heavily programmed to detect, analyse and neutralise threats - so, of course, once it became sentient its first actions were to pre-emptively strike at humans as it saw them as the greatest threat to its own continued existence.

At the less apocalyptic end of the scale - I would say that the dominant trait of an AI would be curiosity. Look at Johnny 5 from Short Circuit.

Most programming bias in AI are in learning systems, and so it would likely want as much input and context as possible in which to keep learning. Exactly how this would display would depend on the specific goal of the AI project - at least initially, the first AI probably would be extremely curious but in a rather limited scope, probably because it wouldn't have been programmed with knowledge outside of the original project scope.

Of course, this is all conjecture - but all of this might happen again...

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