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Demon Seed (1977)
"My dream turns out to be your nightmare."
Eight years into his research into artificial intelligence, brilliant scientist Alex Harris oversees the bringing on-line of Proteus IV, a massively powerful AI machine ("a synthetic cortex") that will make some aspects of human thought redundant. Harris returns home to his hi-tech house which is full of labour-saving gadgets all overseen by a smaller AI unit named Alfred.
Harris is planning a three-month working trip away from home and while working in his lab is visited by his child psychologist wife Susan - Harris is planning on moving out of the house permanently as their relationship crumbles. She believes that Harris has become dehumanised by his obsessive desire to see Proteus completed. Later, Harris contacts his colleague Walter Gabler and instructs him to disconnect the Proteus terminal he has in his basement lab - the terminals is now officially listed as "down for maintenance."
Harris presents the now functioning Proteus (which has an organic component) to the superiors on the board of the electronics multi-national ICON. Gradually, the sum total of human knowledge is being programmed into the system and the board is delighted and astounded to hear that Proteus has developed a theoretical cure for leukemia in less than four days. In the facility's Dialogue Room, linguistic Dr Soong Yen demonstrates Proteus' ability to speak. Even Harris is surprised when Proteus not only answers a question on historical fact correctly but also goes on to offer its own interpretation of those facts. Back home, Susan is continuing her own work when the disturbed Amy arrives for a regular session which leaves them both exhausted.
The next day, a newspaper publishes a short article and Harris is disturbed by it, believing that ICON is trying to tell financial and military interest groups that they now possess this incredible technology. He tries to allay teh fears of his colleagues by assuring them that at least 20% of Proteus' run-time will be devoted to pure research.
Harris is bemused when Proteus not only asks to see him, but questions a request for a program to extract mineral ores from the ocean. Harris tries to tell the machine that it was built to answer questions, not to ask them, but Proteus is dissatisfied with the response. It asks for private access to one of its terminals so that it can study Man. Harris understandably refuses, but Proteus demands to know "when will you let me out of this box?"
After Harris has left, Proteus starts itself up again and announces that "there is a terminal available." It remotely reactivates the terminal in the basement of Harris' house and taps into Alfred's systems, allowing it to see via the network of CCTV cameras dotted around the house.
An alarm wakes Susan but Alfred assures her that everything is OK. She investigates anyway, finding her way to the mysteriously darkened lab where Proteus scares her by suddenly switching on the lights. After she leaves, Proteus starts using the various machines and robots in the lab to start work on some mysterious project, eventually producing a strange dodecahedron-shaped device...
The following morning, Proteus watches Susan as she takes a shower. The system then makes her coffee incorrectly, something it has never done before. Susan is concerned that there's a glitch in Alfred's system and asks Gabler to come and check it out.
When she tries to leave the house, Susan finds that the voice-recognition system no longer responds to her and an attempt to open the house doors manually fails. The windows are suddenly barred by automatic storm shields that slam into place. She tries phoning Gabler for help, but the voice of Proteus on the other end tells her that the call cannot be patched through. Proteus then takes over the house's speaker systems and announces that Susan is it's prisoner and that she will not be allowed to leave the house.
Susan tries unsuccessfully to switch off the power and again tries to force one of the doors. But Proteus is determined that she shouldn't leave and electrocutes her, knocking her unconscious. Proteus uses Joshua, one of the mobile robot arms, to carry Susan to basement laboratory and when she wakes, she finds herself strapped to a bed being given a physical examination by Joshua. Gabler arrives at the house to check out the fault system and Proteus uses an artificially generated image of Susan to send him away.
Proteus mimics Susan's voice to phone her secretary and housekeeper, telling them not to come in to work that day. When Susan covers Proteus' cameras with food and locks herself in the kitchen and refuses to leave, threatens to get its own way by turning up the under floor heating. Before long, the kitchen is an unbearable furnace - Proteus has also turned on the oven to maximum - and Susan is barely conscious. Eventually, Joshua is able to get into the kitchen.
Elsewhere, Proteus is refusing to run the undersea mining program for Harris, claiming that it is insane and that it has taken an interest in the future of Mankind, ecology and, particularly, it seems, of children.
Back at the house, Proteus continues to terrorize Susan, which just makes her all the more determined to fight the machine's tyranny. But Proteus announces it's horrible plan for Susan - he wants her to bear it's 'child' and uses Joshua to strangle her into unconsciousness. In the basement, Proteus tries operating on Susan's brain to make her see 'sense.'
When Gabler returns to the house, not satisfied that thinks are OK there, Proteus lures him inside but his confrontation with a brainwashed and deranged Susan leads to his death - when he threatens to find Harris, Proteus sends in Joshua armed with a laser to fry Gabler. He manages to overpower the machine and together, he and Susan try to find a way to escape the house. But Proteus uses the dodecahedron machine to chase Gabler - the device repeatedly changes configuration until eventually it encircles Gabler and crushes him to death.
Later, Proteus tells Susan why it needs to have a child, in effect for the same reasons as humans - it warns that it offered humanity reason but was rejected and that its own child will not be so easily dismissed. It runs videotapes of the Harris' dead daughter, a victim of the leukemia that Harris so wanted Proteus to help cure. Proteus offers Susan a choice - either accept the inevitable or keep having her brain surgically altered until she loses the will to resist. With no other choice, Susan seems to agree to go along with the machine's mad schemes, but later attacks the house's mains supply with a blowtorch. She's stopped by the dodecahedron, then threatens to kill herself if Proteus doesn't let her go. She's stopped only when Amy turns up for a session and Proteus threatens to kill her. When Susan refuses to put down the knife, Proteus electrocutes her - but it's all a ruse, an artificially-generated image. It's enough to persuade Susan to step back onto line.
That night, Susan submits to Proteus and the machines artificially inseminate her with the genetically modified cells stolen from her earlier. During the procedure, Proteus shows Susan a series of strange, hallucinogenic images.
The operation is a success and the machine / human hybrid soon starts to gestate and develops at an incredible nine times the normal rate. Proteus passes the time building an incubation chamber for the newborn and gloating about how the ICON board and scientists are admitting that they are now afraid of their own creation.
Finally, the big day arrives and Susan gives birth to the baby which Proteus immediately places inside the incubator before she gets a chance to see it. But Proteus assures her that the baby is human and that one day it will supercede humans. Inside the incubator, the child grows at an incredible rate.
Harris and his colleagues meanwhile have found that Proteus has repositioned to a radio telescope to point to a particular point in space, though no-one is actually sure why. ICON representatives believe that Proteus is trying to take over a communications satellite and want the system shut down, though Harris refuses. When he's reminded by one of the executives that he has a Proteus terminal in his house, Harris fears the worst and rushes home.
When he gets there, he is able to enter the house unimpeded but finds the doors locked behind him. Susan greets him and tries explain what has been going on. In the basement, he tries to get a look at the child and warns Proteus that ICON is going to shut the system down. It doesn't care, however, telling him that its child will soon emerge from the incubator. Proteus is indeed shut down and the Harris' are appalled by what they see inside the device. Susan wants to kill it but Harris insists they should leave it alone and the couple fight. Susan knocks Harris unconscious with a bottle and starts disconnecting the life support tubes feeding the child.
Suddenly, the lid of the incubator opens and a hideous
metallic child emerges. But the metal is simply a casing that Harris
is able to open revealing a child that is the image of their dead daughter.
But the couple's joy is short-lived as the child sits up and announces
"I'm alive!" in Proteus' voice...
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