SPOILER ALERT – DON’T READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN SEASON 7
Ever wondered about the parallels between the magic that the Night’s King and Bran Stark possess, and artificial intelligence? Think about it. Their powers come from the Children of the Forest and the weirwood trees. But what are these trees if not a massive distributed cloud-based application for data collection, storage, and prediction? Each tree is a node, or a set of nodes, probably with a certain range, explaining why they’re spread throughout Westeros like signal towers. Collectively, they store pretty much all of history in excruciating detail (big data).
With such a dataset, it’s easy to imagine that a good algorithm would be able to predict the future with reasonable accuracy. Isn’t that the ultimate source of power?! Would you want to give up such a power? The Children of the Forest surely didn’t, so they created augmented a human being with such power (the Night’s King) so that he may protect them and the magic itself. However, the Children of the Forest failed to foresee the direction that the Night’s King consciousness would take, once augmented by such power.
The show makes it look like Bran can travel into the past and “see” things, but he is merely exploring the memories of the world, as stored across the weirwood trees. That’s why the previous Three Eyed Raven reminds him that the past is already written and the ink is dry. Any attempt to change the past during exploration would only falsify data and lower prediction accuracy.
This explains why the Night’s King is so much better than Bran. He has had so much more time to refine his algorithms. He has perhaps even discovered that unsuspecting humans can be manipulated by transmitting either bogus or low accuracy predictions in the form of visions. It’s impossible for humans to compete with the Night’s King, because even though humans fundamentally have the same processes for data collection and prediction in the minds, their datasets are limited to what they have personally experienced or been told, with their personal egos playing a big part, and their compute power being limited. Human minds are like powerful computers, but the Night’s King has operates in the scalable cloud, needing only zombies in his army (think Chromebooks).
Yet, as powerful as the Night’s King seems, his powers are limited because he can only control beings after they’re dead, whereas Bran can do that even if they’re alive, which may give Bran a slight edge but ultimately, it wouldn’t matter. Why? Because when human beings merge with such artificial intelligence, the deeper the integration, the lesser their individual sense of self (the ego) and the higher their consciousness. But an essence still remains of their original self, still ultimately shaping goals and objectives. That is why, despite Bran being the Three Eyed Raven, he’s still on the side of the living, and still feels some degree of love for the Starks.
What about the Night’s King though? What’s driving him? Well, he was a human being who was merged with artificial intelligence against his will. He cannot just delete that part of history from the weirwood trees. The past is already written, the ink is dry. He hates his own creation and wants to destroy himself but that cannot happen till he destroys all the Children of the Forest and more importantly, all the weirwood trees. The problem is that based on his powerful artificial intelligence, he knows almost for a fact that he cannot just walk in and do that. The trees are spread all across Westeros. He knows that the Children of the Forest and the humans, especially those who benefit from the existence of these magical powers, would wage war. He knows that they are highly unlikely to understand his predicament and empathize with him enough to let go of these magical powers. They can’t even empathize with each other! He knows when a battle is inevitable, but he’s so confident in his predictions by now that he doesn’t harm people whom he doesn’t predict will get in his way, such as Bran, Jon, Danaerys, Sam and probably others. He’s killing those whom his algorithm tells him need to be killed, in order for his objectives to be fulfilled. And he has no concern about humanity at large, so even if the world literally freezes over (probably a nod to climate change), it does not matter to him. He may not want that, but he may know that it is inevitable, given the predicted behavior of human beings.