The Smartest AI Across Movie History

From the very earliest movies, people have been obsessed with the concept of artificial intelligence, or AI. It’s even showed up in movies reaching back as far as the 1920s. But what are the smartest AI in the most prominent movies across the decades? This ranking of AI in movies will give you more information about all the movie AI programs with superhuman levels of intelligence.

HAL 9000 – 2001: A Space Odyssey

This is potentially one of the most well-known superhuman AI programs in a movie. HAL 9000 has speech recognition, facial recognition, natural language processing, lip reading, art appreciation, and the ability to interpret emotions and reason. The AI’s iconic “I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that” is a widely-recognized and widely-parodied example of true artificial intelligence.

Marvin the Paranoid Android – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Modeled on literary depressives, Marvin the Paranoid Android is a charmingly depressed robot assistant. Though Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy started as a radio program in the 1970s, its status as a cult classic allowed for a movie release in 2005. But don’t be fooled by his depressing tone of voice; he states that he has a brain the size of a planet, making him 50,000 times smarter than a human.

Skynet – The Terminator

This is another incredibly iconic evil superhuman AI. Skynet is one of the most definitively evil AI programs in movies, as its stated goal is to try and kill all of humanity. It’s also clearly very powerful, as it’s able to time travel, command armies, and develop nuclear weapons. However, as a true testament to the growth of technology, Skynet actually runs slower than modern supercomputers.

Data – Star Trek

Data is one of the most competent AI programs on the list, and that’s partially because he’s such a likeable character. His super-strength and encyclopedic memory are bolstered by his 100,000 terabytes of memory and mentioned ability to compute sixty trillion operations per second. That makes him the perfect choice for the second officer of the main ship.

David – AI

As a childlike humanoid with extremely realistic visuals, David’s entire character arc is that although he’s a manufactured android, he’s programmed to love like a child. It’s an intriguing concept inspired by Pinocchio. But with intelligent behavioral circuits and neuron sequencing technology, he’s far from childlike in intelligence.

Viki – I, Robot

Isaac Asimov’s short stories, which created the base for much of modern science fiction, inspired this main operating core, which is extremely confident in its logical capabilities. It uses its processing speed of .003 seconds to attempt to enslave all of mankind.

AUTO – Wall-E

It’s no surprise that AUTO is a hyper-intelligent and evil AI; it was inspired largely by HAL 9000. Its self-driving ability through light speed makes it easy for the AI to do what it wants in the movie. Plus, it’s voiced by MacInTalk, Apple’s text-to-speech program, to give it a voice that falls squarely in the uncanny valley.

Samantha – Her

Her is an intriguing movie about a man who falls in love with an operating system. Although Samantha’s behavior is closer to an adult’s behavior than a hyper-intelligent AI, the character presented throughout the movie make it clear that she’s upgraded to a much higher form of operation that allows her to form true relationships.


There are plenty of incredibly intelligent AI programs in movies, and there are bound to be more in future science fiction movies as well. Whether they’re evil, good, or somewhere in between, it’s easy to see why people love these intriguingly thoughtful beings.

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