Technology lessons from The Terminator

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One of the biggest movie franchises in recent years has been The Terminator. This presents a highly entertaining dystopian future in which technology has become self-aware and deems humanity to be the enemy.

But whilst the hammy dialogue and polished Hollywood aesthetics may overshadow some of the darker themes, in many ways the central ideas behind the Terminator franchise have become increasingly relevant in our technologically-obsessed lives.

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One of the most iconic images in movie history was created with the introduction of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator T-800 cyborg. The movie star not only managed to deliver a chilling performance as the cold-blooded killer, but now even leading scientists have claimed how humans will become ‘God-like cyborgs’ in the next 200 years. Such theories rest on the premise that death is only a technological flaw in our genetic design, and the race is currently on in Silicon Valley to deliver us from the confines of mortality.

Skynet

Much of the Terminator films’ successes have rested upon huge marketing efforts. These can be seen in movie memorabilia and theme parks, and even Royal Vegas Casino’s blog and website which features a Terminator 2 slot game. But The Terminator’s true legacy may prove to be slightly more sinister in the form of Skynet.

In the film, the Skynet artificial intelligence defence system becomes self-aware and triggers a nuclear holocaust so as to exterminate the human race. And already many people have become uncomfortably aware of the increased use of artificial intelligence in military facilities across the world with armed sentry robots currently operating on the South Korean border.

Others have pointed to the similarities between Google and Skynet, and although the company has boosted its reputation upon mapping the planet and tracking our every move, it’s Google’s steps into creating self-aware tech that have really scared some of the more paranoid conspiracy theorists.

Self-aware tech

The widespread introduction of self-driving cars is expected to by one of the first steps that we take to becoming governed by robots. And increasingly our homes will soon be automated too, with the ‘internet of things’ expected to make our doorlocks, lighting, heating, and even refrigerators become increasingly intelligent.

Whilst the thoughts of our home appliances becoming intelligent may seem fairly harmless, the news that last year saw the first instance of an artificial intelligence passing the Turing test will undoubtedly trigger the start of something hugely significant in the role that technology plays in our lives.

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Nick Barnett

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