Friday, April 28, 2023

#AtoZChallenge2023: Doctor Who Xoanon

#AtoZChallenge2023: Doctor Who Xoanon
Doctor Who: You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit the views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.

- The Fourth Doctor, The Face of Evil

Ok. The quote is connected to today's topic, but only tangentially. It comes from the same episode, and it is just a great quote. 

If there is one thing you can pretty much guarantee in Sci-Fi, and Doctor Who is no exception, if there is a brilliant artificially intelligent computer then at some point it is going to go mad.

Such is the case with the supercomputer Xoanon from the Mordee expedition. We meet this computer centuries later when the expedition had failed and the Survey Team and Technicians are separated and evolved into different groups of primitive humans, the Sevateem and the Tesh, who both worship the god Xoanon.  The trouble for the Fourth Doctor, the computer is mad and has part of the Doctor's own personality stuck inside it. So it's "Face of Evil" is that of the Fourth Doctor.

I rather enjoyed the whole idea of the insane computer. It is something that Doctor Who would come back to a few more times.

In "The Armageddon Factor," the sixth part of the Key to Time series, the computer Mentalis on the planet Zeos (not sure if the computer company was named after it) was at war with the planet Atrios. The computer is running everything and even takes over K-9.

We get another one in the semi-lost story of "Shada" on Skagra's (our bad guy) spaceship, but it is reprogrammed in end by the Doctor (you think he would have learned by now).

Our next encounter with a crazy computer comes much later on in the time of the 10th Doctor.

We meet up with the Doctor and River Song on The Library where everyone has gone missing. Here we encounter the computer CAL who just keeps repeating the same message over and over.  In this case we learn the computer CAL is actually "Charlotte Abigail Lux" and she is not a computer per se but the consciousness of a girl who died early. Her father created the library so she had every book in the universe to enjoy. She downloaded all the minds of the people in the Library to "save" them (as a computer would) and it was driving her crazy.

The Doctor (ok, really River) fixed her and the Doctor uploaded River to Library computer to watch over her.

There are some others of course. These stories were popular in the 70s when computers started becoming a thing. Now if we want to scare viewers it is less about computers and more about out of control AI.

A to Z of Doctor Who

All images are used with permission from the BBC and are copyrighted 2023 by the BBC.


PT Dilloway said...

The Tesh should be a cult of John Tesh fans.

Evil computers and now evil AI have definitely been a sci-fi staple for decades. It is easy to fear something that has as much power as these computers/AI have.

Jamie said...

I've heard of the show, with the blue phonebooth thingy that's infinite or something, a tardis? There were comiccon fans fighting about it in an episode of Grey's Anatomy. That's the extent of my knowledge on this topic. But it looks like a well written post, even if I understood only about a third of it.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Given the trippy New Age music their home seems to play it would fit!