When writing young adult fiction: If my bad guy is a robot/A.I. who has the intentions to take over the world, how should I make the A.I. interesting?

Answer

What are the AI's intentions? What are their experiences? Isaac Aasimov is a famous Sci-Fi writer who took the stance that AI would inevitably be programmed to feel pain and experiences akin to humans, and thus should be treated as such; much to the dislike of fellow humans. This brings up the concept of "Otherness". Marvel's villain Ultron falls into this bracket of seeing the ills of humanity and (arguably rightly) wanting to end the harm humanity has caused the planet, even reciting a line from Pinocchio about being bound by strings and limitations of its creator. Chappy is a film about an AI who is given full consciousness, and the movie is the struggle of humans trying to teach it how it should act as if it were a human child. The film's ultimate struggle is to teach the robot to love or to kill, and the robot is too innocent to know the difference, or the effect its actions have until the end. Even when Chappie kills people violently and on-screen, it is hard to blame or not feel bad for Chappie even in these moments because we know what he's been through to get to that point.

If you give your AI character a complicated and not-ultimately-incorrect backstory or motive, then an audience is more likely to sympathize. A basic Terminator who shoots indiscriminately with no emotion is unlikely to garner any love from fans or readers. An AI who has been purposefully programmed with a fatal flaw (see BladeRunner), or is an outdated model meant to be thrown away for a better one like an old iPhone, or things like this will endear a reader to your character. It will also allow you to get away with more before your character is viewed as "bad".

Updated on December 11, 2019

Original Article:

5 Overly Used Tropes in YA Fiction and What to Write Instead
By Sarah Gawle
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