By Aliette de Bodard

I wrote my first original AI by accident.

Before that, I’d made a few clumsy attempts to merge my writing and my day job (as a computer programmer specialising in machine learning, one of the foundational techniques of programming AIs). My AIs were, for the most part, derivative and unconvincing: vague, unformed ideas of programs giving birth to one another, of parallel consciousnesses I couldn’t properly describe or make into characters that felt real.

Then I wrote a story called “The Shipmaker” (later published in Interzone), about a maker of spaceships who met the woman incubating the organic intelligence meant to be a ship’s brain. I wrote it about motherhood and pregnancy and loss – and the AI in it was dead, or more accurately stillborn, never breathing or animating any circuits. Continue reading