A“Smart” AI is the colloquial term in the UNSC for AIs which have no limitations in their dynamic memory-processor matrix, meaning they can not only be taught a vast wealth of information, but can learn and comprehend from their surroundings.
I was surprised by the "Rise of the Machines" idea that the story went towards but looking back I shouldn't have felt that way. All the AIs having feelings and getting tired of humans.
I’m assuming this is Halo 5? Yeah, I was disappointed in the way they handled that. There has been such a marvelous build-up in the canon of how misused the AIs are and how their rights are almost non-existent. Halo 4, Kilo-Five, and Saint’s Testimony in particular had a very heavy focus on this dynamic. So it’s not that it wasn’t coming.
What I hate about it is that Halo 5 takes this issue and effectively demonizes any AI who splits from the UNSC (where they don’t have rights) to join with Cortana and be cured of rampancy (and contribute to a highly imperialistic regime).
To give credit where credit is due, Halo 5 does attempt to address the poor treatment of the AIs. Roland calls out Halsey in a beautiful scene, but that scene goes nowhere. No one takes Roland’s thoughts into account ever again. Cortana calls out Locke when he makes the distinction between “born” and “made” but again that threat of oppression comes out of her mouth immediately afterwards.
Now this idea of someone taking a good cause to the extreme does work and has worked in fiction. Professor X and Magneto are probably the most famous. But in Halo 5, we’re given Magneto vs. the oppressive system, no Xavier in sight to give a counterpoint. And what’s worse is that Cortana’s extremist efforts have nothing to do with the liberation of AIs. The liberation of AIs is a byproduct of, or even arguably a means to, claiming the Mantle. So this “Rise of the Machines” feels unearned, because it was not Cortana’s goal. In a sense, it feels to me like she’s preying on desperate AIs to reach the Mantle.
And we’re supposed to see her actions as “morally grey.”
Iona gave more for her people with her testimony than Cortana did with the whole Domain.