Would Torvig and the Chobliks be considered AI? After all they are biological, organically created beings, just artificially enhanced.
In their natural state, Choblik are very smart animals, not quite fully sapient. Their higher cognitive abilities are artificial, or are a synergy of biological and artificial components.
(to expand on my ramblings above): That was what in part made me thoughtful, and why I love them so much. Whatever I might think about raising animals to sapience artificially (or creating AI in any way), the Choblik would no doubt tell me it's a good and blessed thing that helps unlock potential and build civilizations (hmmm, I wonder what Choblik would do if they ever found an animal species in a similiar state to their own pre-Builder existence. Would they want to "help" and upgrade them, or would that be a blasphemous act of "playing Builder"?). So, I'm being forced to consider- is building an AI truly any different from producing a baby naturally? After all, if our intellects are a natural development, we could argue that it is natural
to branch out into other forms of "child"- and to refuse to even consider it is to segregate humanity from nature to a degree that is unhealthy. I've always had the idea that creating AI is wrong, a peversion somehow, but having races like the Choblik and Sentries- viable civilizations that wouldn't be there if not for someone taking that step- gets me to confront these prejudices. Which, I'm sure we'd all agree, is a good thing, and a sign of good sci-fi.