Off-monday Sci Fi essay:
A case for AI without ASI:
By science high-schooler David Barkland.
The central piece of much Sci fi is the progress of technology, which if the setting permits AI naturaly raises the question of what happens when the AI outsmarts it's creator. If said AI can make adjustments and improvments, and a human can make an AI smarter than a human, then we could quickly see rapidly progressing generations of more advanced AI until the emergence of a godlike AI, a superintelligence or ASI.
This can present a problem for Sci Fi not focused around ASI development; as soon as an ASI exists, it will outmatch everything not an ASI in every concievable way, and it could concieve of many ways we could not. The problem is: readers get attatched to characters, not silicate chips or an amorpheous swarm, and an ASI is the ultimate mary sue/gary stu: there is literally nothing we could do that an ASI would not be better at.
However, the emerence of ASI, the Singularity, is based on the assumption that we can make an AI more intelligent than us. If we can not, and an AI can not, make intelligences that surpass themselves, a singularity with exponentially increasing counsciousness can't happen: the first AI will be able to code more AI quicker than we could, but if AI remains human-level their child-intelligences may well be as well. That said, even "human-level" AI would likely surpass the vast majority of humans in feats of decision making and logical deduction, as it makes sense that our AI be based on clever humans. Similarily, even relatively dumb AI will be vastly superior in any computational task, same as the calculator app on a cellphone, as even an overshoot of 0.1% of the processing power needed to simulate a human mind is on par with where the strongets supercomputers were only a decade or two ago.
This argument's purpose is not to dispell the ASI theory, superintelligence may very well emerge even within our lifetimes, but serves as a justification to put AI alongside humans and/or xenos in science fiction without having to deal with the consequences of more or less giving every ship in the fleet an omnipotent being. If your setting is all about the singularity, simply set the following axiom to be false, if you like me want to explore the possibility of organics and synths living as equals set it as true.
The axiom is as follows:
All code is limited by the proficiency of the coder, and the coder can not achieve proficiency above that of their own intelligence; thus code can not reach proficiency above that of the coder.
If true, no AI can be more intelligent that it's creator, being more useful only in tasks where the hardware gives an edge (experimentation, combat, calculations, learning things rapidly) while remaining fairly equal to organics in other terms (decision making, consequence thinking, scientific pursuit, emotions, etc). If false, AI can be slightly smarter than it's creator, and use it's vastly expanded computational ability to make a better AI and so on till either the hardware is limiting or it is impossible to make further improvments, in effect giving an all-knowing being.
It should be noted that a humen-level AI would be limited in physical and calculus tasks by it's hardware rather than code, so they can still surpass organics and potentially network to further amplify their advantage; you only get the absence of superintelligence. On the other hand, cybernethic augmentation may very well improve organic hardware as well.
How you choose to go about AI in your own settings is up to you; like all other speculative technologies it should be considered a story-telling device. The types of AI you allow should have capabilities on the level your setting allows, just like the existanse or no of faster than light travel and it's methods have to be as dependant on the setting as the other way around. This is simply some thoughts about how to go about explaining and understanding the tech that makes your 'verse tick.
In Galaxy in Chaos the axiom is set to true; while there are some powerful AI they are matched by organics, and have advantages only in that they react faster and can withstand far larger forces.