In fairness to Vernor Vinge, this is one of the most common dodges in robot SF. In the 1970 movie Colossus: The Forbin Project, as well as the 1966 novel it was based on, true AI is the spontaneous byproduct of two near-AIs meeting. Colossus, an automated defense system put in charge of America's nuclear arsenal, starts sharing information with its Soviet counterpart, Guardian. But whatever the two programs have to say, the audience never sees or hears it, and neither do the human characters. The systems mingle, and, within minutes, emerge as a single, omniscient entity. The same goes for Colossus' spiritual successor, Skynet. In 1984's The Terminator, we learn that the genocidal military system simply "got smart." Case closed. The 1991 sequel adds a few more details, stipulating that Skynet became self-aware roughly 25 days after being turned on. Later, less influential Terminator sequels would elaborate on the system's sudden ascension, and prove that, from a narrative perspective, some villains are better left in the shadows. But the first two films are determined to look away from the fictional mechanics of machine sentience.