The AI (artificial intelligence) Machine on "Person of Interest" is not that unique. There have been other similar concepts of computers that have been programmed to help humanity in some way. Sometimes it works out, but sometimes the machines decide to take over rather than do dishes and perform surgery. Here are some of the most popular TV machines that helped or hurt humanity.
The Intersect: "Chuck"
The Intersect was designed to hold all of the CIA's secret information. It was actually very similar to the "Machine" on "Person of Interest" in many ways. The main difference was that the Intersect was implanted in the brain of a man named Chuck, who could instantly learn karate from the device. Luckily, Reese does not need such a machine, as he already knows his martial arts.
The Cylons: "Battlestar Galactica"
In fiction, smart computers sometimes have a tendency to turn on their creators. In "Battlestar Galactica," the computers decided that they should be the masters. Hopefully the Machine on "Person of Interest" has not been programmed well enough to grow sentient and decide it is too good for us.
The Machine: "A for Andromeda"
This Machine was built from instructions sent from a distant galaxy. The Machine then gave more instructions for building living things. Unfortunately, those living things wanted to take over the planet. The Machine on "Person of Interest" was luckily built in the good ol' USA for the purpose of spitting out social security numbers of those who are about to be involved in a crime. Finch would not have built the Machine from alien technology sent to destroy humanity.
Data: "Star Trek: The Next Generation"
Data became one of the most loved machines in science fiction. Lucky for us, he wanted to help humanity and strove to become as human as possible. Perhaps if the "Person of Interest" machine ever became sentient, it would be more like Data than the Cylons. Then again, the Machine is more realistic than the machines found on science-fiction shows, which means it likely won't become sentient.
KITT: "Knight Rider"
KITT was an AI computer wrapped in a car. Being restricted to a car meant that it could mostly just, well, drive around and help the guy who drove the car. It never really helped humanity in a greater way. If Finch's Machine were built in a car, it could probably direct Reese and Finch to the people they must study rather than giving them a social security number. It would probably be much cooler than KITT, too, and not very talkative.
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Image source: "Many Happy Returns" -- Reese (Jim Caviezel, left) and Finch (Michael Emerson, right), on PERSON OF INTEREST, Thursday, May 3 (9:00 - 10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Barbara Nitke/CBS ©2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved/used with permission