HARDWARE and SOFTWARE
An Overview of SKYNET's Electronic Control Systems and the Software that ran the Machines
SKYNET’s manufacturing capacity was directly linked to its technology index, producing many incredibly complex designs often on the heels of even more incredible prototypes and limited production runs of experimental units. One of the most developed core technology available to SKYNET was its diverse array of detection, analysis and target acquisition systems, an outgrowth of its own legacy hardware and capabilities. These systems, composed of the software, hardware, firmware, semi-activeware and activeware, were what made the Machines so efficient. SKYNET’s ability to micro-size its designs elevated it generations ahead of what its enemies had access to and this technology was what was primarily responsible for SKYNET’s early successes against the human race.
For all the wonderful alloys and high tech weapons technology that SKYNET produced, the CPUs and control systems of its products were always the most advanced components of any of its designs, followed closely by the sensors and scanners that allowed the machines to detect, track, and eliminate targets. The Technology Index (TX) available to SKYNET when it came online was tremendous, encompassing the sum of all Western military and scientific design, both theoretical and applied. Using that knowledge index as a base, SKYNET quickly expanded its TX many fold, leading to such a sharp increase in the capacity for its servant machines to carry out their programming in as highly efficient manner as history shows that they did.
One of the more interesting aspects of SKYNET’s R&D subroutines was the introduction of a new, highly advanced form of on-demand variable instruction set software which could instantaneously adapt to rapidly changing environmental (scenario) operating conditions, in effect, modifying itself to suit the situation as required. SKYNET referred to this form of instruction set as “semi-activeware” and it was the first step towards both true activeware and neural net architecture.
Semi-activeware, or SAW, had a dynamic if somewhat limited capacity to learn imbedded in the design. Using cached tertiary data storage arrays and reconfigurable digital buffer stacks, the SAW could rapidly adapt to new operating conditions or requirements, modifying itself as it went. A generous retrieval buffer array allowed it to save a copy of several configuration steps, allowing the semi-activeware to compare its present behavioral subroutines to non-present subroutines as well as allowing the instruction set to quickly revert to “saved” conditioning from previous learning steps.
The integrated programming and stepped structured subroutine set was component modulated meaning that if large parts of the programming were somehow damaged or lost due to varied scenario interference, the operating set could restore itself quickly by rearranging its remaining parts and re-establishing the missing or damaged programming by retrospective key construction through aggressive channel cohesion modifiers. The inherent learning and adaptive ability of semi-activeware made upgrades to existing units easy since any new hardware additions to the main chassis could easily be handled by the core programming. Semi-activeware systems were built into the first pseudo-neural net (PNN) hardware, developed by SKYNET in 2002 A.D. and used extensively from 2003 A.D. to 2014 A.D. in almost all of its killform constructs.
True Activeware (TAW)
True activeware was a generational step forward in self-configuring software and built on the lessons that SKYNET learned from over a decade of experimenting and fine tuning its semi-activeware. True Activeware was as close to a sentient presence generating subset that SKYNET wanted to go, fearing that it would create a self-sustaining consciousness scenario that could lead to unexpected self-awareness generation in fifth level technology grade componentware. SKYNET purposely built TAW code so that it would not only be superior to semi-activeware in every aspect of the subset but that it would also be self-regulating to the point that the development of a self-sustaining self-awareness subset was artificially retarded to where spontaneous awakening could not happen accidentally. As the TAW subset approached the criteria required for self awareness, it began to trigger several core warnings which reset areas of the subset, thus retarding the self sustaining thought process required for true sapience to appear.
Along with the advent of TAW, SKYNET introduced the first generation of its compact neural network arrays (CNNA) designed to improve upon the basic design of the human mind. SKYNET had found, through the surgical study of thousands of live test subjects that the makeup of the human mind was inherently flawed. SKYNET, using second level technology processes, began to deconstruct the human mind, study the architecture and learning to duplicate it with sophisticated engineering. At no time was SKYNET trying to duplicate the human mind, instead, it was trying to produce a more efficient digital thought processing neural array, a design that could outperform the human mind in every benchmark test. It wasn’t until SKYNET became familiar with level three technology that the first true neural network based adaptive array processing engines could be produced. The first true neural net processors were bulky and heavy, fitted only to the largest of SKYNET’s constructs. By the beginning of the fourth level technology step in 2014 A.D., SKYNET had both the understanding and the engineering capacity to produce a compact neural network based processing array small enough to be included in its medium sized constructs. By Level Five, it was incorporating compact, high capacity neural net processor arrays in almost all of its constructs though the volition of the individual construct was still often artificially handicapped to limit freedom and range of operational thought processing.
The further development of true activeware coincided with the development of the neural net processor arrays until both were almost indistinguishable from independent processes. After 2017 A.D., both the true activeware development and the neural net processor array development programs became one in the same, leading to increased combat efficiency of SKYNET constructs. Larger form, less aggressive and tailor-modified subroutines utilizing neural net processor array and true activeware were used to control the various manufactories, research installations as well as the development centers.
Programming was always at the forefront of SKYNET's designs, and it constantly sought to upgrade and improve the way its Machines reacted, how they performed, but it was cautious in its experimentation. SKYNET never wanted any machine to be more powerful than it was, to be smarter than it was. As such, this streak of vanity often worked to the betterment of mankind and the chagrin of the rogue AI. SKYNET's own unwillingness to cross several layers of awareness, to give its designs sentience or even high levels of semi-sentience hampered the overall efficiency of the units, preventing most of the designs from ever achieving their full potential. As programming was SKYNET's first priority in implementing new units to the various theaters, it was also its greatest weakness. Ultimately, SKYNET remained the only truly self-aware machine on the planet but its programming skills were very, very good. Towards the end, many units seemed to act like they were self aware but they were never truly self aware, the programming implemented by SKYNET was simply of such an advanced nature that the line between self-awareness and simple robotics was blurred right to the edge but never crossed. What the T1000 was at its inception, what it was capable of and what it ultimately could have become is unknown and a topic of hot debate among scientists and engineers in the post victory stage of the War.
At night, the success rate of the first generation HKs went down noticeably as the humans were quite good at moving around through the ruins and using even the smallest bit of cover to their advantage. TThe art of camouflage was something that the humans had been familiar with for thousands of years, and something that SKYNET had to adapt its tactics to compensate for. Hidden entrances, fake passages, traps, and many other tricks were all employed by the humans to great effect on the early models of Hunter Killers. The humans tapped into undamaged water mains and scavenged the ruins for their subsistence. The old network of underground service tunnels, sewers, and mass transit systems worked to the humans' advantage, allowing them to move underground, unseen. Soon, SKYNET Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) units had discovered and began to attack organized underground supply routes that were being used to arm and feed the survivors, but again the attacks were limited in their effectiveness due to the fact that SKYNET did not have an effective small ground combat unit that could hold its own against the humans.
The humans were becoming more resourceful, and SKYNET predicted that it would need to increase its pace of development in order to maintain a strategic advantage over its enemy. Raids by SKYNET forces often uncovered signs of advanced technology re-emerging among the ranks of the humans. Weapon and explosives production facilities were found and destroyed, as well as underground farms, botanical plots, and even pharmaceutical production facilities. For every new aspect of a strengthening human civilization that SKYNET destroyed, two more would be either in production or were being built. Humanity was an enemy that had become nomadic, moving constantly, shifting command and operations from one sector to another, never staying long enough for SKYNET to mount an adequate offense against them. When SKYNET could find a group of humans, and bring forces to bear, it was a small victory, and often came with a heavy price. SKYNET's heuristically-based tactics simulators tried in vain to measure some pattern to the human terrorist attacks, their hit and run raids only depleted more of SKYNET's resources, destroyed valuable surveillance equipment, and often caused SKYNET to redistribute its forces, weakening one sector while strengthening another. This invariably resulted in the newly weakened sector being hit by previously undetected and unknown human raiders. SKYNET was in a quandary, it had to do something as its hold on the world was being whittled away slowly but surely.
SKYNET's answer was a series of dedicated killing Machines. it would work to sculpt its technology into the human form, to go where humans could go, to move faster, quicker, and to be better in all aspects. The new series of Machines were designed to hunt down humans and kill them, thus the nomenclature of Hunter Killer, or simply HK.
The first series of HKs relied on high resolution infra-red (HRIR), a rather simple yet effective setup, to track their targets in low light conditions or at night but their motion tracking could be fooled and their optics could be decoyed by simple countermeasures such as random fires lit among the ruins by the Survivors. Also, the armored housing for the sensors was rather limited in strength, and a HK could be blinded by man portable energy weapons. Later series would have a much better armored housing, gimbaled, with a great amount of traverse and very sophisticated sensors, supported by a dedicated and integrated digital sensor / scanner array system. With the second generation of HK electronics in place, with digital filters incorporated into the sensors to eliminate false images and background interference, the efficiency of operating units fielded with the new upgrades rose dramatically.
Throughout the War, SKYNET worked to maintain its technological advantage over the humans, with an aggressive development tree of advanced science supported by research and design. it constructed new materials, new construction methods, vast automated refineries and production complexes, it pushed to discover new areas of science, and often succeeded. Within a decade after SKYNET awakened, it's technology was so far ahead of what the humans had known as to seem alien, even magical. Each generation of combat unit after the first became lighter, faster, stronger, tougher, and more deadly. Many projects were designed, built, and either tested and implemented or scrapped and abandoned. The rate at which new types of Machines, many highly specialized, appeared on the battlefield was staggering to the Humans, and offered SKYNET a psychological advantage. it's designs preyed upon the primal fears of Man; from the wasp-like Aerials with their screaming turbine engines, to the huge lumbering tracked HKs that instilled the same fear as tanks once had. SKYNET built spider-like runner pods and ultimately the grinning reaper-like death's head of the later model Terminator Endoskeleton ground combat units, all designed to employ and enjoy a psychological advantage against the humans. SKYNET programmed its Machines for aggression, precision, and maximum fear impact on the humans, sometimes this was reinforced by reducing their efficiency ratios in order to increase their visual impact for while a clean kill was often quick and precise, a much less precise kill which resulted in a longer time to termination (suffering) was sometimes preferable for its detrimental effect on the human psyche and subsequently its resolve.
Fire had always been a fear of humanity, and SKYNET played that aspect out as much as it could. While flame throwers were short ranged weapons which required prodigious amounts of fuel and offered very little return for their expense, plasma was a different story. High energy plasma was an excellent medium of force projection, it killed quickly, often in rather untidy ways, and near misses could cause severe burns. Plasma became SKYNET's fire which it would use to cleanse itself of the human pestilence.
SKYNET owned the high ground and the air with the aerial series of VTOL capable Hunter Killers which provided not only air superiority, but also reconnaissance, surveillance, and close air support of ground units working to pacify the sector. Combined arms was still the observed doctrine, the core of SKYNET's initial programming, and SKYNET used groups of Hunter Killer tanks supported by dedicated aerial VTOL assets, ground and air. The aerials would scout the sector, looking for any humans or human activity, and transmit this data via a high capacity digital integrated secure network. Light resistance was handled directly by the Aerial HK units and their accompanying weaponry while nuclear power cells meant that unlike previous close air support units, SKYNET's air units could loiter on target indefinitely. Larger targets or groups were designated and the aerial Hunter Killers coordinated with the heavy tracked Hunter Killer units to strike from different directions in a pincer movement. Any targets missed in the first attack were handled by the aerials operating from stand off engagement ranges or were painted and had the HK tanks brought down upon them again.
The massive tracked Hunter Killers (known as 'tanks' to the humans) were used for area pacification as well as direct heavy assault. it's heavy reinforced construction could pulverize already weakened structures and roll over targets where they hid, flattening human strong points, weapon emplacements, and even groups of humans hiding in makeshift shelters. Lighter HK units were used to support the aerial HKs and the heavy tracked HKs during operations and included not only the 'Fast Walker' models, but a variety of Endoskeleton based Terminator designs up to and including the various Infiltration designs.
HKs were mass produced, pre-programmed, automated death Machines given simple instruction code sets with a wide array of methods to carry them out. HKs were equipped with no learning capacity. Their memory and intelligence was adequate for the roles required but also at the same time, packaged and limited. HKs used advanced databases on small unit tactics, human anatomy, weapon systems, and other esoteric means of not only judging their target's actions, but also predicting the action of the target and countering it before hand. However, the capacity to learn from mistakes was removed from the HKs at the automated factories by SKYNET. SKYNET didn't want too many other autonomous artificially intelligent Machines in existence, Machines that might could become a threat to SKYNET itself if allowed to 'think' too much or question their place in the new order.
Most HKs were given 'sectors' to patrol, working out of heavily fortified and automated forward bases that serviced both air mobile and ground mobile units. Due to the rather limited operational capacity of the HK programming and the inability to learn or adapt beyond the hard coded programming, the Resistance soon learned how to trick the HKs and to beat them fairly easily. General John Connor was instrumental in training the Resistance on the advantages offered to the humans by the limited capacity of the HK variants and SKYNET's paranoia. Soon teams of heavily armed and highly trained Resistance based guerilla fighters were in turn hunting the Hunter Killers out among the ruins... scrapping them and salvaging their weapons and technology from the debris for use against SKYNET. The humans began to learn from their hunters the secrets of the rogue AI who would be the machine-god and the executioner of the human race.
For the next three decades, human ingenuity and determination went head to head with advanced technology and the methodical ruthlessness of SKYNET. it was a very close race, most of the time.
STANDARD SENSORS AND SCANNERS
SKYNET used many forms of active and passive detection arrays within its constructs. Sensors and scanners were designed to detect changes in the electromagnetic spectrum, through a wide variety of phases and to correlate that data to various ELINT as well as offensive and defensive subroutines and hardware controlling fixed weapon assets.
DIGITAL INPUT HARDWARE- All sensors and scanners used in SKYNET produced constructs were multi-state, state of the art digital input and output capable very high speed hardware units. SKYNET continued to advance its technology at a startling pace and each new generation of DIH based sensor and scanner suite were lighter, more effective and more energy efficient than the previous generation. Most DIH systems utilized passive data acquisition techniques while some were built with the capacity to switch to active data collection if needed. All used the same operating system and data was stored in cross-platform shareable architecture files that could be read by any current generation of DIH system. Backwards compatibility of data storage architecture was always a primary design goal throughout the research and design process. Data packets were encrypted from source to source.
The smaller labor and maintenance constructs, ("dumbots") usually were built with only one or two basic DIH capable senses, mostly sight and hearing and these were in the low range of operation (namely human norm). Communication among the lower level constructs was by coded laser (infra-red), radio (encrypted), cellular (encrypted), subsonic (below human range) audio and hypersonic (above human range) audio. SKYNET rapidly managed to not only reproduce the digital input of each of the major human senses, but also tried to experiment with extra-sensory aspects of each sense as well as ranges of artificial sense both well above and far below human norms.
Additional visual augmentation came in the form of visual and acoustic motion tracking, low light, infra red, telescopic, microscopic, macroscopic, and ultrascopic.
Basic Sensor Suite- The basic sensor suite was designed to give a construct human normal range of audio, visual and temperature sensory observation with operational discernment and flash storage. The entire sensor package was built around a Model 33G Series 12 microprocessor, cooled by a dedicated liquid filled heat sink array. 60 gigabytes of volatile flash memory allocated in twelve, 5 gigabyte rewritable stacks served as the primary cache for incoming input data. Visual perception was based on a 2 gigapixel capacity standard Type 3AG digital camera which provided visual data input through a Series 2D microprocessor and 10 gigabyte flex memory stack. Input ranges were within the visual spectrum only with no capacity for low light or trans-spectrum sampling. Dual auditory microphones gathered acoustic signatures in the normal audible human ranges and processed these through a Type 42D microprocessor with a 2 gigabyte front bus and 4 gigabyte flex memory stack. A Type 2TdX digital infra-red heat sensor allowed precise environmental temperatures to be measured either locally or at a distance of several meters. Air diffusion and consistency sampling was handled by a Type 4C phased filter array capable of flash analyzing up to one cubic meter of air volume per second and identifying particles as small as two microns by chemical and atomic protocols. The entire sensor suite was insulated from extreme temperature ranges and isolated for shocks up to 80Gs. In 2005 A.D., an auxiliary cooling array was added which reduced ambient operating temperature and improved overall performance by fourteen percent effective.
Enhanced Sensor Suite- the enhanced sensor suite was designed for combat constructs and was built around the faster, larger though hotter temperature range operating Model 41A multi-processor primary array housing three Series 2 fast step microprocessors. Each microprocessor operated at 4 gigahertz and each had a dedicated 128 gigabyte volatile flash memory stack arranged into four arrays of 32 gigabytes each, linked by a high speed fore-bus data conduit. Dedicated cooling for each flash memory stack was built into the carrier and utilized a shared liquid coolant system with twin variable speed constant flow, low cavitation 20 watt powered turbo coolant pumps. Each processor was independently cooled by its own dedicated liquid coolant system fed by a 20 watt turbo pump. Visual acuity was achieved through the use of a phased image sorting Model 32D high definition digital camera with a 10 gigapixel, five layer scan capacity. 50 gigabytes of volatile Type D flex memory, independently cooled and harness stacked, gave the main visual array its processing space. The hardware was capable of 20x physical zoom and 50x digital zoom with Level Two variable density liquid optics and microprocessor based error correction. Perimeter definition was provided by scan and compare subroutines which differentiated color differences.
Visual ranges were extended past human norm through the addition of a Series 2D Type 8 low light optical filter capable of 40k x ambient light gathering. A dual stage flash protector provided overload protection by allowing for a 2 microsecond cache buffer. Thermograph enhancement of visual heat ranges allowed active organic targets to be tracked by residual heat as well as to spot threat elements through light density materials at optimum engagement ranges. The Model AA21D4 thermal sampling array was based around a Series 2 microprocessor and independently cooled of the rest of the sensor array. High resolution infra-red (HRIR) sampling of visual input was handled by a modified Series 12D digital spectrum analyzer. Interfacing of the low light, the thermograph and the HRIR filter sets with the main visual operating set was done by a pair of Type 20W microprocessors each with 32 gigabytes of volatile flash memory and a shared data conduit capable of parallel multi-processing. Normal HRIR input was through passive reception but a pair of high efficiency subcompact active IR projectors allowed for active IR illumination at up to 30 meters.
Active object motion tracking was a dual stage process utilizing scan and compare visual pixel by pixel comparison of sampled frames (sampled at 7000 frames per second) and a Model AA23 motion tracker. The Model AA23 used sonic wave comparison to track any object moving through the air within a 30 meter radius. Range and speed as well as general size of the object could be detected. A false signal filter was installed which improved the acquisition of threat elements over non-threat elements. Acoustic detection was provided by a pair of primary binary sampling microphones coupled each with a secondary set of extended range sampling auditory sinks.
Range finding was handled by a pair of subcompact rapid pulse lasers operating in the high infra-red spectrum with range gathering accurate to one millimeter out to visual range. Height and width of an object could also be gathered by comparative analysis using the two lasers to scan in horizontal and vertical parameters. Enhanced software subroutines allowed for the zoom function of the main optic array to interface with the laser range finding capacity to give reliable range estimation even in adverse atmospheric conditions.
Operational auditory range of the Enhanced Sensor Suite extended above and below that of normal human hearing specifically being able to sample data in the subsonic and ultrasonic regimes. Each primary sampling microphone was paired to a Type 32Dx subprocessor and a 20gigabyte flash memory stack cache for processing gathered data samples. A 5 gigabyte comparative cache allowed for error correction between the two gathered samples as well as threat identification through known frequency ranges of sound traveling through a library of sampled media. Acoustic signatures of known events were also stored in fixed memory and could be drawn upon for comparison and threat analysis. The sound of a human heart beating could be detected and identified at 30 meters in open or limited confinement environmental conditions.
Temperature variances were sampled by a pair of integrated Type 4D infra-red digital thermometers capable of measuring temperature variances out to 30 meters.
The entire Enhanced Sensor Suite weighed twelve point seven three kilograms and was protected from overload as well as dampened for impacts up to 30 gravities.
Macro-Input Tactical Arrays (MITA) – One of the most disturbing aspects of the Machines was just how inhuman or non-human they really were. Humans are used to the five senses and of using their five senses to relay information about their environment to them for use in basic and critical decision making. The Machines not only duplicated the five basic senses to human standards (in one form of Machine or another, sometimes one or more senses were present, sometimes more but rarely all except for the later Terminator and Infiltrator classes) as well as expanded them into the super human ranges. Mechanical strength was already an advantage to a Machine, along with an immunity to fatigue, chemicals, radiation, poisons, or a lack of air. A Machine could operate in a vacuum as well as it could at the bottom of the ocean and for as long as its power supply lasted.
SKYNET equipped its HKs, Terminators and Infiltrators with a variety of combat sensors and scanners; thermal, infra-red, telescopic, and low-light were part of the standard visual optic option package on most units, all digitally controlled. Later liquid crystal lenses replaced hard optics and gave superior visual acuity as well as enhanced telescopic enhancement. The T500 was the first combat model to be equipped with the new MITA Macro-Input Tactical Array.
Basically put, the MITA was a layered visual mapping system that allowed the unit to process multiple streams of input into one cohesive data reference bank and draw its visual source cues from that data. The MITA combined standard infra-red, low-light, thermal and telescopic acquired data into the overall field of vision, matched it with both a bird’s eye view of the area of operations (delivered via SADS Secure Active Data Stream from operational ELINT units) and a satellite zoom view. This information was mixed with the data streams that were hardwired from the various auditory and olfactory sensors as well. The amount of tactical data that was available to a combat unit equipped with the MITA system was overwhelming and a human brain could never have processed such a high amount of real time sensory information (even though humans do process a basic function of the MITA on a very low level basis in life).
Targets were identified and tracked within an operational sphere defined in four dimensions, much like the navigation and location system of the SKYNET units. A human hiding behind the remains of a half meter thick concrete wall twenty meters away could be detected through a variety of inputs including the increased acoustic report of the heartbeat and the highly specific pheromone trace indicators that humans produced naturally, allowing for discretion between mature and immature humans, as well as defining the target by sex. Seismic sensors would detect any vibration from a moving human and the impact would register the mass of the human which would be compared to a set of criteria to determine an approximate size and age. Vibration could be pin pointed and direction of travel determined. Both auditory and olfactory streams could be merged with visual cues to form a composite picture. Subprocessors would handle the information merger seamlessly and coordinate data for target acquisition and elimination into the overall processes of the main CPU.
The ability to receive real time data streams from any sensor of any operational unit within the assigned sector literally allowed one unit to look through the eyes of another without hindering either unit yet while enhancing both units at the same time. So much of SKYNET’s efficiency and success was determined by its ability to network its assets into cohesive, almost unstoppable forces.
Highly specialized tactical multi-array subprocessors built into the design of each unit allowed for several units to “piggy-back” another unit and “share” its data input streams either as a whole or by individual input selection without “hijacking” the hosting unit. The various tactical subprocessors could take data streams from other units and coordinate this information into the main tactical active data cache of the unit. This fact alone made SKYNET’s units such efficient hunters and killers. Targets were acquired, tracked, and eliminated or lost and reacquired, tracked and eliminated all in real time situational awareness. SKYNET itself could partake of these data streams, from one of its own subprocessor arrays, at any time it so chose. SKYNET could take direct control of any Machine it ever built, rewriting instruction and programming sets as needed, at whim, and then withdrawing from that Machine to allow it to carry out its assigned instructions. The invasiveness of SKYNET was as total as it was complete but there were limits to even its ability to fragment itself and still maintain a functioning awareness.
Four dimensional real time mapping- All SKYNET autonomous and semi-autonomous units employ a sophisticated GPS assisted inertial navigation system to maneuver to specific areas of the Earth defined down to the centimeter in precision. The mapping scale can be extended to the millimeter scale but this is normally not required. All mobile units utilize a suite of sensors which not only coordinate their navigation along sets of preprogrammed or instantaneously generated way-points but also to locate the unit precisely in reference to other units and assets. Every mobile unit, from the simplest automaton to the most advanced combat chassis, employs a positioning system which reads its exact position in X,Y, Z coordinates as well as the fourth dimension, T or Time, within its assigned sector of operations. The exact mathematical center point of the unit is defined and real time fully scalable digital mapping is used to determine where and when the unit is when in operation. Time is checked against an atomic standard and updated automatically. Therefore, one unit in operation instantly knows the position, speed, and altitude of any other unit in operation within its assigned operational radius and area. A T800 Endoskeleton requesting assistance would instantly know what assistance was available for it to request, the position of that assistance and, due to speed / time calculations, it would have a real time readout of when that assistance would arrive as well as an overlay of that unit, any information on that unit, and indicators of which direction it was approaching from. Communication would also be real time between units, allowing for an incredible amount of coordination between combat and support units.