End of World Subcategories: Man vs Machine!


No, THIS is my favorite! (who am I kidding – they’re ALL my favorite). Have been contemplating the “robot uprising” for a looong time, ever since my imagination was captured, at the tender age of 16, by the bittersweet paradox of Kyle Reese travelling back in time to save a young and innocent Sarah Connor from the clutches of Schwarzenegger’s Cyberdyne Systems series T-800 Model 101 Terminator, who also came back to the 80’s to kill her before she was pregnant with John Connor, the savior of the future, only to discover, by the end of the movie, that Reese ended up —SPOILER ALERT!— the father of John Connor.

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In doing a little cursory research, there is a ton of pop culture out there with the “man vs. machine” theme, most of which don’t lead to any kind of end of the world as we know it, either soft or hard – scenarios where robots turn on their human masters on an individual level: think HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey or Sonny in I, Robot. This trope is also abundant in sci fi tv series, from Star Trek (the Borg!) to Dr Who (Cybermen!…and even K-9 turned on the doctor at least once), to the recently-cancelled Extant (both aliens AND emotional AI!).

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The times where technology actively brings about an apocalyptic event are less frequent, but prom-inent enough to have their own subcategory – usually, it’s outright AI and robots taking over, but I’m super interested in coming across more original ideas: in the series Revolution which, though it admittedly had MANY flaws, we eventually find out it was nanotechnology (perpetrated by greedy humans, of course) that caused everything electrical to fail, thus plunging the world into literal darkness as well as a new dark age. In Wargames, the government frame Matthew Broderick hacks into nearly starts WWIII but the humans are able to stop it before it happens. The cybermen in Dr. Who (like the Borg in Star Trek) don’t necessarily want to get RID of humanity…they merely want humanity to assimilate and join/expand their numbers.

I’m curious to see new ways (in FICTION)  in which humanity has to deal with machines getting too smart and turning against us in new ways. How ‘bout an AI at the CDC tipping over a plague jar? Or deliberately contaminating oceans/crops with poison or blight? I mean: robots don’t have to eat, and don’t catch human diseases. We could be easily eradicated this way, and they wouldn’t actually have to destroy the planet via nuclear means. Thoughts?

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Books: Dies the Fire by S.M. Sirling, Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson, Second Variety by Philip K. Dick, Argo by Rick Griffin

Movies: Terminator series, Matrix Series, Resident Evil Series, Metropolis

TV Series: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Revolution, Battlestar Galactica, Westworld, Dark Angel, Dollhouse