Musings on the world of 2029AD
Impromptu ideas and informal
discussion of the
of Cameron's dark vision of the future
Which came first? The T100 or the T800?
Here's the question ... once SKYNET leveled the world how did It intend to take over the planet afterwards? Think about it. I'm sure that SKYNET thought out all of the big problems but the hardest part of the whole Terminator mythos to grapple with is how did SKYNET get on its feet and start kicking the collective human ass after it shot off all the missiles and pretty much dropped civilization and technology back to a Stone Age level on a global wide scale. SKYNET was built by humans so there was a transition period there where human control ended and Machine control began and that period was probably awkward to say the least. SKYNET would have to take control of factories and assembly lines in order to build its own units, to build up its own army but how did it do that if it was just a computer stuck in a hollowed out mountain? What did it use for hands and eyes? I'm sure that it had plans but how did it implement those plans?
A lot of people, me included, have set up countless lines of Machines starting with early type Endos and leading all the way up to the T1000 prototypes because, I guess, it's logical to show some kind of progression from ... nothing to something. It's the in-between part that is puzzling. After SKYNET is left all by itself, how does it start to branch out? How does it start to repair itself and rebuild let alone expand and start to fulfill its dreams and aspirations?
You could argue that SKYNET was built around a doomsday type scenario and that after the bombs fell that SKYNET would start to produce its own army of machines to defend America (had it remained loyal to its creators) or to destroy the human race (when it went rampant). The fact that SKYNET has built (as seen in the movies) fully automated mechanical weapon systems in what is described as giant automated factories indicates that SKYNET has extensive manufacturing power to render its designs into physical constructs ... but where did it get that capability? Was it built into the SKYNET project in the first place or was it something that SKYNET implemented afterwards? Were these factories part of the original layout of SKYNET or did SKYNET have to figure out how to branch out, how to leave Cheyenne Mountain and take over these factories at some later point in time.
As for the designs of the Machines, I'd like to say something else there as well. A lot of people, me included, have tried to show many lineages of Machines but what if ... what if the Aerial HK that we see and the giant Tracked HK that we see were not advanced, evolved designs but templates that SKYNET had access to from the start? Both the B-52 bomber and the venerable "Huey" helicopter have been active in American armed service since the 1950's and 1960's thus proving that a design can last the lifetime of a soldier. There are soldiers that rode in Hueys in Vietnam in the 1960's that went on to have children that rode on nearly identical Hueys in the early '90's in Kuwait. What if SKYNET had the Aerial HK and the Tracked HK from the start? That would make sense as the designs displayed seem functional enough to be mainstays of SKYNET production from the start. Thinking that SKYNET might need what amounted to an all terrain armored weapons platform and the kind of nimble, close air support system to protect it and provide overwatch for it and you have the Aerial HK and Tracked HK working in mobile teams like we see operating close together in the first two films. In essence, the matched land and air HK teams were the very simplified nature of (then) current NATO combined force requirements to meet a large scale Soviet invasion of Europe. While the basic shapes may not have changed through the decades, the electronics, weapons, sensors, etc. would certainly have evolved and gotten smaller, lighter, more effective and more powerful.
The Human Resistance: large scale standing army or small scale guerilla units?
I've had a lot of people discuss this aspect of the Terminator universe and I've heard arguments for both ideas. My idea is that Connor built his army with a grass roots type movement. The very term "Resistance" spelled with a capital "R" and referring to a military type organization is defined by an underground movement meant to throw off the oppressive yoke of an in-power regime. By "underground" we mean that the term "Resistance" refers to a covert group rather than an overt group. Guerilla fighters and commandos, ala the French Resistance, are the drawing point for the Resistance of the future. If any national armies survived Judgment Day, then they survived in broken and fragmented form with little if any centralized command, communication or control (the C3 concept which is required to keep a modern army cohesive) let alone the concept of supply or resupply. SKYNET was built and designed around large scale engagements, namely how to defend America from domestic attack and how to defend Europe from Soviet invasion. However, It couldn't handle small guerilla conflicts and Connor understood that this was SKYNET's one weakness which could be exploited from the start.
SKYNET was built to handle large scale mechanized and nuclear conflicts of a conventional strategic or tactical nature but Connor and the Resistance operated in small unit tactics, cell structures and guerilla warfare. It was evident from the movies and the books that SKYNET had to adapt to the tactics used by Connor and that it did so by a learning process, having to adjust and change its programming to accommodate and compensate for Connor's tactics.
Large scale standing armies vanished almost instantly on Judgment Day and there just wasn't enough logistics support left intact to reform those armies should anyone be around who could direct them. Connor understood that SKYNET could counter any military operation that was large scale and mechanized. If Connor assembled a standing army and tried to attack somewhere, SKYNET would probably just nuke that standing army with a tactical device ... or a strategic device, if the standing army was big enough and stupid enough to gather for too long in one place at one time. Nuclear devices are the ruin of large scale standing armies and the only reason that large scale standing armies are not nuked is because there are consequences to the national power that would drop the nuke. After Judgment Day, SKYNET is the only power left that has access to nukes and it is, for the most part, immune to their use. It doesn't mind dropping more nukes if it will take out Connor or any of his forces and if the Resistance is foolish enough to try to launch a nuke at SKYNET, then SKYNET would just burn the nuke out of the air or probably use an orbital asset to cook the ICBM in the silo (along with any human operators) before it could ever complete the launch sequence. The point is that in the future, after Judgment Day, the only side in the conflict who will have nukes will be SKYNET (with the odd nuke appearing from time to time in Resistance inventory) and SKYNET won't care about using those nukes with the exception being that it won't use nukes on targets that are too small to warrant a nuke being used. In other words, SKYNET isn't going to use a jack hammer to hunt ants. Connor knew this so he kept his "army" small, dispersed in groups and cells, in sizes that were too small to warrant a tactical or strategic nuclear response.
No, Connor understood that if he kept his forces small and always on the move, if he used guerilla tactics, if he used hit and run tactics, he could force SKYNET to waste valuable resources and irreplaceable time rearranging its core logic structure to compensate for Connor's behavior and that while It was having to reconfigure and compensate to a type of combat that It had not been intended for, Connor could use that confusion to win some early victories ... key victories and lock steps in what he understood would for the most part be a war of attrition. Connor forced SKYNET to fight humanity on humanity's terms ...
On the other hand, if you look at SKYNET's arsenal, it seems pretty clear that SKYNET had to learn to cope with extreme guerilla tactics carried out in small, cell type units. Connor's army worked much like a terrorist organization, it was divided into cells, each member of the cell is limited in the knowledge that they have in order to avoid being a liability in the event of capture. There is a central command structure to Connor's army but it is always on the move, never in an established location for longer than is necessary. Communications are encrypted and sporadic with a great deal of freedom given to individual elements as long as they work toward common goals. In order to combat this, SKYNET had to adjust all of its R&D and production into building and fielding smaller and smaller units ... units that were evolutions of the Hunter Killer series ... an evolution that was called "Terminator" and intended to meet humanity on its terms. Look at the Hunter Killer units ... the tracked HK's that we see prowling the ruins are huge, the equivalent of any main battle tank in the post-Judgment Day world and then some! It's evident that they are designed for large scale rapid pacification of an area. The aerial HK units are close air support, combined arms, that act as scout units for the tracked HKs as well as close support units and while they don't carry the myriad of weapons that dedicated aircraft like the American A-10 carry, they more than make up for it in nimbleness, the ability to strike in all-weather conditions, the ability to loiter on target indefinitely, and the pin-point accuracy mixed with the deadly combination of striking power and range of their plasma weapons and you have an airborne weapons platform that can perform close air support, pacification and even anti-air capabilities, a true multi-role system. Where modern American
Later models of HK units began to grow smaller. The Terminator units were newer designs than the HKs and were built with the intention of SKYNET taking the fight to the humans. The ultimate expression of SKYNET's adoption of Connor's guerilla tactics could be seen in the introduction of the Infiltrator series of combat units ... death machines designed to mimic, search and destroy individual human combatants and to do so with the greatest level of efficiency at that point of the conflict. Looking back at this decrease in the size of combat units, one is reminded of the scenario of the classic sci-fi movie "Star Wars" where you had the Death Star which was built to withstand large scale assaults being attacked by 30 rebel starfighters. The fighters were so small that they were easily evading the large scale defense systems of the Death Star. Darth Vader, when informed of this fact, gave instructions to launch the Imperial fighters, saying "Get the crews to their fighters. We'll have to destroy them ship to ship." Such a scenario roughly translates into SKYNET's operations ... facing small combat units which were running circles around its established defense strategies, SKYNET was forced to build newer, smaller creations that were geared towards fighting the humans on a more or less "man to man" basis. In doing so, the change from fighting large scale mechanized warfare to small scale guerilla warfare was a time consuming one. As another example, look at America's current war against the terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq ... America is a huge, industrial / military giant and yet we've been fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq going on over 7 years now and we've had to adapt our tactics to compensate for their tactics. The same would hold true for SKYNET and the future vision that Cameron postulated.
So, logically, SKYNET wiped out almost all national armies on Judgment Day. The remnants of those armies either went rogue, mercenary or eventually joined Connor's Resistance when they could. SKYNET went from a global solution to having to pick apart the survivors one for one and in doing so, it gradually had to adapt from large scale mechanized warfare to small scale guerilla tactics, going from massive weapon systems designed to attack / defend against massed mechanized armies to smaller, more lethal systems designed to engage small groups of humans.
Connor's Resistance was a highly organized guerilla force, using guerilla tactics, hit and run raids, and a host of small unit operations to both supply itself as well as wear SKYNET down attrition wise. The final battles in the war were not fought with several thousand humans, but rather only a few hundred, aided by even smaller units which used guerilla tactics to reduce the effectiveness of SKYNET's defenses. SKYNET wasn't defeated in the end by large scale armies that had come back into existence decades after Judgment Day, SKYNET was defeated by a highly coordinated series of operations which both tricked it and reduced its ability to defend itself. In the end, the final battle at Cheyenne Mountain wasn't a large scale mechanized assault but a desperate gamble in which Connor committed the majority of his remaining forces into a "all or nothing" outcome. If SKYNET had withstood the attack on Cheyenne Mountain, it would have been able to defeat the Resistance within half a decade or less.
John Connor - The Warrior Prophet - I use that term loosely and it was lifted from the Atari "Dawn of Fate" game for the Xbox, taken from the self-delivered biographical introduction to himself and the situation that he is in, narrated by the character of Connor himself. Connor was a major figure in the War against SKYNET but he was not the only figure. I see Connor as being the one person in the world who actually survives Judgment Day and not only understands why it happened but also what caused it. Connor is in the unique position of knowing what the War is about and, ultimately, the outcome of the War (he knows that he wins and SKYNET is defeated though he must sacrifice his father, Kyle Reese, in order to do so). He also understands other things from the tales that Sarah Connor has told him, namely information passed on by her experience with his father, Kyle Reese, Kyle's tales of the future, and John's own experience with the T800 that he himself will one day reprogram and send back in time to protect him from the T1000. As such, Connor is in the unique position of knowing not only who his enemy is, but also of knowing to a large degree what technology his enemy will have at Its disposal and when that technology is going to be available for use against humanity.
The introduction of a "central command" to the Resistance, as seen in T:Salvation raises an interesting question ... when does Connor take command of the Resistance? While his unique position would be a tremendous asset, it would also have to be an asset that he would have to play close due to the possibility of messing up the time stream or coming off as being some kind of oracle / prophet. Connor needs a covert force to destroy SKYNET, not start a religion that worships him as the center point. What happens if he carelessly tells someone about Kyle Reese being his father? What if someone gets mad at Connor and finds Reese and kills Reese out of spite? Events are changed, the time stream is rerouted and Connor will face serious consequences. What if Connor talks about the T1000 and the technology that it is constructed from to one of his soldiers and that soldier is later captured by SKYNET and interrogated? SKYNET might learn, say in 2005, about the T1000 and, knowing that It would be capable of producing it in 2029 AD, SKYNET would then work extra hard to research and develop the technology of a liquid metal Terminator years or even decades before it was actually introduced, thus turning the tide of the War and changing history forever. Care also had to be used when talking about events that had not happened yet because people might see Connor as a prophet or even a madman, a religious kook that was worthy of either scorn or die-hard fanaticism.
Connor's life sucked, that much was a given. He would know things that there was no way that he could know and if he told people how he knew, they'd think he was crazy or gifted with some kind of clairvoyance / ESP / what have you.
For all of his worth, for all of his eventual historical greatness, I imagine that Connor starts out leading a small band of dedicated followers, people who are convinced that not only is Connor sane in an insane world but that he has his stuff together, that Connor knows things and if they want to survive that they had better listen to the man. As Connor's small organization grows, there might also be growing dissent in the slowly increasing ranks ... old military fossils who somehow did survive Judgment Day might be taken in under Connor's wing then work to take over Connor's organization, feeling that once they know who they are fighting that their years of experience will surely be worth more to the Resistance than Connor's youth. I can see Connor being segregated more and more to a specialized branch, his band of soldier-scientists which will form the core of Tech-Com in the years to come, and being pushed more and more away from the core decision making process that controls the Resistance. Connor sees this schism forming in the ranks and moves to isolate himself from it and the impending disaster that it will bring. Salvaging, cataloging, and hoarding captured SKYNET technology would give Connor not only the political clout with the members of the Resistance but would also insulate him from the coming schism when it did occur. I can see SKYNET lulling the hijackers of the Resistance command into a sense of false security, letting them think that It was losing ground to their highly predictable tactics. You have to understand that at this point, temporal and time wise, SKYNET did not even know about the existence of John Connor or his mother Sarah Connor. All SKYNET would know was that after Judgment Day that there began isolated incidents of organized human resistance to its operations and that these incidents would begin to increase at a rapid rate and in such a way that it was difficult to deal with them. The tactics would be unpredictable and hard to defend against. Then a change would occur ... the attacks would become a mixture of predictable and unpredictable, eventually moving more toward the predictable. SKYNET would assume that a change had occurred in leadership in the humans that were trying to resist Its operations and it would also identify that the resistance did in fact have a functional command structure. In quick order, SKYNET would move to engage in a campaign that would draw in the majority of the human resistance ever deeper into a complex pincer type plan where SKYNET would deal with both the majority of the resistance as well as cut off its head by taking out the leaders that were coordinating it. While this is played out in T:Salvation, I don't think that it happened quite as easily as SKYNET giving out a false signal, the leaders of the Resistance using it and then finding out too late that it was a Trojan Horse, not a signal to shut down the Machines but rather a signal that the Machines would home in on to destroy the leadership of the Resistance ... and why, logically, was it the mobile HQ of the Resistance that had to be the unit that transmitted the "stop" signal? That seemed kind of dumb but I digress ... I would have spent the time to restore some kind of high powered transmitter capable of transmitting the signal and then keyed it through the remote transmitter. When SKYNET showed the signal to be a trap by blowing up the remote, unoccupied transmitter, the Resistance would have known it was a trap and breathed a sigh of relief that they had taken the extra time to be extra cautious. Logically, that is what would have happened but logic generally has no part in Hollywood movies so we got what we saw, pity.
So, without the dumbed down situation that we see in T:Salvation, we can assume that at one point in the history of the Resistance, Connor was relegated to less and less command and finally, probably just to appease him and shut him up, he would be given free reign of what would become Tech-Com mainly because Connor was good at smashing and studying Machines and Connor had a small group of hardcore followers who were resistant to changes in command and didn't want to follow anyone but Connor. These "trouble makers" would have also been relegated to Connor's command and then Connor and his group would have been removed from central operations and given "busy work" while the old Generals and other leaders would assume command of the Resistance and move central operations from the established (and successful) guerilla format to a more orthodox set of strategies. SKYNET would recognize this change and would begin to study it. Of course, SKYNET would be able to counter and anticipate traditional military operational strategies which it would also recognize as being used. The change from unorthodox strategies to orthodox strategies would cause SKYNET to adjust its own strategy as well. Recognizing the change in the Resistance and identifying the fact that it did have a command structure, SKYNET would move to draw out Its enemy and destroy the Resistance. It would do so by lulling the new Resistance leadership into a false sense of security, perhaps by letting them win some victories against it, giving up short term assets for long term goals, and by doing such, it would study Its enemy more and more until the point when It would begin a campaign of letting the traditionally commanded Resistance gain ground against SKYNET before It sprang Its trap and not only decimated the majority of the Resistance structure but also the old hard-line leaders that had wrestled control of the Resistance from Connor. As the defacto head of Tech-Com and armed with a wealth of knowledge gained at the sacrifice of most of the Resistance, I can see Connor considering SKYNET to have made the same mistake that SKYNET considered the Resistance to have made. Connor, and the surviving fraction of the Resistance, would then have to be very careful with their next moves because any organized actions would be seen as proof that SKYNET did not get ALL of the leaders of the Resistance. A return to the guerilla tactics as used before would also alert SKYNET that the Resistance had survived, at least one part of it, and that the part of the Resistance that survived was not only better equipped to deal with SKYNET but would also have to be commanded by the same leader or group of leaders that SKYNET had experience in dealing with before the traditional hardliners had taken control. Cleared of any doubters and backed by supporters who would have removed any future obstacles to Connor's command of the Resistance, John Connor became the head of the human Resistance and stayed that way until the end of the War.
As far as being a "prophet", I imagine that while Connor knew about what was coming, he never really confided much in even his closest friends. This much is hinted at in the novelization of the second movie when Connor sends Reese back in time and then, only then, admits to his long time bodyguard that Reese was actually Connor's father (which also questions why Connor never took his father's name ... perhaps due to security reasons and perhaps in the end, after the fall of SKYNET, Connor might have taken on the last name of Reese out of respect or as a tribute to his fallen father ... another musing for another time). When news of a new unit or a new technology would reach Connor's ears, he might act like it was old news to him or be aloof when reading the reports ... all of which would give him a spooky kind of arrogance. Secretly, he would probably be comparing the news to information that he already knew to see if the War was still going "correctly" or if some new twist had changed the course of events past what he knew would happen. I'm sure he kept a diary or a "little black book" that he kept dear and near, filled with notes about what was to come, what had happened, how things were progressing, etc. Just like Kyle Reese's fate, I'm also sure that Connor knew when it was time to send some of his closest and best friends and fighters off to meet their fate, knowing that to not do so might alter the course of history and change the outcome of the War. As far as information on the War, I'm also sure that Connor had extensive access to the history of the War, as provided by commentary and information provided by Kyle Reese's tales to Sarah (told by Sarah to John) and by reviewing information provided by the T800 that had come back to protect him. Just as the T800 had detailed files on human anatomy, John Connor was supposed to have reprogrammed the T800 to protect him ... is there any question that he would have sent back as much information as possible with the T800, in a format that he could retain even after the destruction of the T800 and the computer chip (which John threw into the vat of molten metal). With John's displayed hacking skills, it was probably not difficult to run a hardline to the T800 and download information though the size difference and format changes might add to the difficulty. Given such a "sneak peek" at the future, John could have "foreseen" many events and could have struck at SKYNET's weak points or been somewhere else when SKYNET performed a counter strike. Indeed, Connor may have willingly have given up his initial command of the Resistance knowing full well that the trap that SKYNET would lay and the purge that It would instigate.
If Connor was perceived as a "warrior prophet" it was probably because he was holding all of the cards and he was playing that hand close to his chest for all of the War. It wasn't that he was a prophet or an oracle, he was just lucky enough to have insider knowledge of his enemy and to use that knowledge to his advantage.
In closing this particular musing, I'll say that Connor was a central and important figure in the Resistance and his three greatest assets would have been:
1) Connor would enter the War with a tremendous prior knowledge of his enemy, provided by information passed along from Kyle Reese to Sarah Connor and from Sarah Connor to him during his youth. He would also have extensive information given to him by his future self and delivered via the T800 that Connor reprogrammed to be his protector, information that he probably didn't share with his mother out of necessity. Connor would have to be careful of what information he sent back from the future to his past self so as not to inadvertently create any time paradoxes or accidentally change the course of events. This initial advantage would be somewhat diminished by Connor's lack of experience in combat, experience which would come all too quickly in the first few, short years of the War where Connor would have to prove himself.
2) By using unorthodox tactics and possessing extensive prior knowledge of his enemy's organization, capabilities and behavior, Connor was able to force SKYNET to face humanity on humanity's terms for the major part of the War. This tactic slowed down SKYNET and forced it to commit itself to not only learning about an enemy that itself already had extensive knowledge of SKYNET but an enemy which forced SKYNET to waste time and resources both to learn about Connor and readjust to his use of unorthodox tactics.
3) By basing his organization's momentum on salvaging, cataloging, understanding, reverse engineering and reapplying highly advanced technology captured from SKYNET's creations, by allowing his enemy to continually provide the technology and materials required to defeat itself, Connor was able to lead the human race into final victory over the renegade AI in 2029 AD.
The Architecture of SKYNET - One thing that has always griped me about the way that the future is portrayed (in the Terminator games, comics and books) is that it is a future full of lethal machinery all designed to hunt down and kill human beings in the quickest, most efficient way possible. So why is it, if SKYNET hates the human race, that it continues to build structures and control systems perfectly suited to the human shape and form? Think about it. Does it really make sense for a super computer who hates the human race to continue building installations that are the perfect size to allow its enemies easy access? Should it still be doing this almost three decades after it tried to wipe out the human race? Why are there padded control chairs and ergonomic keyboards built in SKYNET facilities built in 2025 A.D.?
Why is it that when human raiders break into a completely automated factory complex built in 2020 A.D., a full 23 years after the nuclear exchange and over two decades after SKYNET declared war on the human race, that the human raiders find the architecture perfectly suited for their form? The structures are full of human sized hallways, human sized doors and are built to human sized specifications. Everything is accessible by human hands and feet. How is it that a human raider can slide right into a comfy seat at a computer console and take control with a few dedicated key strokes of the entire complex? Why are there overrides accessible by keyboard or switch? Think about it ... You've seen the movies, you've played the many, many video games, you've read the books, you've read the comic books and everything else in between. Did any of you pick up on the little fact that SKYNET apparently kept building its automated factories and its complexes with human occupation in mind? Did you notice that it apparently also (sometimes) built the stuff to OSHA specifications and guidelines? There are safety rails, warning signs, etc.
That didn't make a lot of sense to me and there's a very good reason why.
Here you have some giant, computer controlled complex, built decades after the bombs fall, built by an artificial intelligence hell-bent on the extermination of the human race and what do we get? Doors. Standard sized human doors everywhere. With knobs. With keypads that can not only be used by human hands but that can be pulled out of the wall rather easily and hotwired to unlock them. We have locks that can be picked. We get hallways that are the perfect size for humans (or large groups of humans) to walk or run down with glaring ease. We are shown big computer control rooms with comfortable chairs placed in front of human sized consoles and huge video displays so that the humans can see what they are doing as they work. The keyboards (with keys in English, mind you) and large important switches are all there, easily accessible and just waiting to be thrown by dirty little human fingers. We have supplies stacked in easy to access crates, labeled in English and stored in a sequence that makes sense to any human raiders that come along to retrieve it. We have warning signs and indicators labeled in English throughout the installations. We have audible klaxons, warning flashers, and sometimes even a human-ized voice coming over the PA system warning of dangers, threats, and intruders.
I'm sorry but I just don't think that is going to happen.
Well, that's where I want you to start thinking about all of this logically for just a few minutes. SKYNET is a computer, a "hyper computer" and a "machine-god" to use two descriptive terms from the novels (which I guess is a step or quantum leap above a super computer). SKYNET is a machine, it is an artificial life form and as such, it is going to build any components it requires in the form which suits it best. Purpose built factories and installations, engineered and constructed by SKYNET, are going to be very different than the installations that we know of in the 20th century. SKYNET's facilities will be dark and dangerous, there won't be a need for interior illumination as that is something needed by Man. Breathable air or purified air free of industrial pollutants might also be rare because what is poison to a human wouldn't affect a machine (with no lungs) at all. The same goes for temperature. Humans are very fragile creatures who like to exist within a narrow, comfortable range of environmental conditions. Freed of these restraints, the architecture of SKYNET's facilities could truly become very alien-like indeed with thick, poisonous atmospheres or wide ranges in temperature variations.
SKYNET was built by humans but SKYNET is not human. SKYNET loathes humans. SKYNET does not build its installations for human comfort or access. SKYNET does not build to human engineering specifications. SKYNET's designs are alien, abstract, functional. They are eerie in their simple complexity. When SKYNET embarks on new construction, it doesn't have to build according to OSHA or government standards, it doesn't have to build handicap parking spaces or wheelchair access ramps and it doesn't have to build according to how the people who designed it built. In fact, as SKYNET evolves, its designs are only going to get stranger and more weird looking, more alien, and far less "human." I think that towards the end, SKYNET's designs became semi-organic looking, somewhat like H.R. Giger's work (but not quite) in that they were seamless and appeared almost to have grown in place rather than being constructed out of component parts, especially with the later advent of nanotechnology. SKYNET's factories might well resemble huge metal blossoms breaking through the ground rather than the blocky, sprawlingg industrial complexes that we are familiar with today.
SKYNET communicates much faster and has far more processing power than any person on the planet, so why would it need a physical interface to control its various assets? I think that the architecture of SKYNET would become (as time progressed after the first strike) so different as to be completely alien to the human mind. Modern architecture is designed around the convenience of Man and the ability of Man to navigate and utilize interfaces designed by Man so that Man can communicate with his creations. Free of the constraints of Man and his regulations, I doubt if such conveniences would exist in the machine oriented world that SKYNET would create. There would be no bathrooms, no kitchens, no handicap accessible ramps. There would be no revolving doors, no door knobs, no ladders, no stairs, no steps, no bunks, no thermostats. Artificial climates (such as air conditioning) might exist for temperature sensitive equipment (processors and data banks) but keeping the whole installation cool would be a waste of power on a grand scale. Interior lighting is a useless gesture to an intelligence that creates machines that can see in the dark. Human intruders delving into the depths of one of SKYNET's constructs would probably have to bring their own artificial illumination (and possibly their own air supply). The interior of SKYNET's facilities would be very unfriendly to organic life, it would be a place where efficiency could be multiplied at the expense of environmental and biological concerns. OSHA would not apply. Indeed, whole levels of SKYNET's facilities might be kept behind giant air locks, sealed and pumped full of non-flammable gas to not only cool vital equipment but also to prevent the possibility of fire or explosion. Halon could be used as a fire retardant with no second thoughts about workers or employees because nothing inside of SKYNET's darkest designs would be alive or need air to breathe.
Think of the construction of one of SKYNET's installations as if you were building a modern house. Would you leave special dedicated crawl spaces open for mice, snakes, spiders, rats or other annoying and possibly dangerous vermin to enter your home? Of course not! You'd make sure that when you were building the house, all such entrances to your domicile were sealed in order to prevent something bringing disease into your home, or eating on your food, chewing on your clothes in the dark or taking up residence when and where you don't want them to. SKYNET considers the human race to be vermin, nothing more, irksome and tedious pests to be hunted down and exterminated at all costs. As such, SKYNET isn't going to design huge corridors for large groups of human raiders to just march down and take over its hard wrought works, it isn't going to create human friendly work stations that can be hacked, label hazardous material storage, warn of radioactive / biological / or cryogenic hazards and it most certainly won't have items like door knobs and door pulls on its doors. Doors, if they do exist, will be secure, heavy sliding type constructs which open automatically to Machines but which remain closed (and probably locked) to any human attempt to gain access. Getting through a door in an automated facility, if you find one, is going to either require software / control system hacking (and there isn't a little keypad on the wall that you can jimmy loose and start hot wiring...) or breaking through the physical material of the door (with a torch, cutter beam, or some other type of tool).
A mission to crack an automated factory isn't going to go along the lines of the humans sneak up, find some access tunnel, crawl in, fight their way past surprised machines, go deeper and deeper until they finally, barely, find a control room with chairs and keyboards whereupon some whiz-kid hacker slides behind a console and uploads some virus where the automated factory starts churning out equipment for the humans. Only installations designed to control and utilize humans (research centers, labor centers and the like) will be constructed so that humans may move freely (a liberal term) about while within them and only then in the areas which are designated to be habitable by the (often temporary) human subjects. The human sectors of an automated installation will be grouped together not for convenience but for security and study. A human might have access to where it eats, where it sleeps, where it cleans itself (more out of not spreading disease to the rest of the work force or contaminating any of the clean rooms for which it might have access) and where it works. Once designated for labor and deposited in the factory, a human might find itself in a rather small area, an area it will quite probably live the rest of its short and miserable life within.
Hazardous materials won't be marked as such. Simple transponders in the wall or live feed data packs will broadcast warning messages to any Machines entering the area. English (or any other language for that matter) is sloppy and inefficient when compared to the language of Machines. If dangerous or hazardous stuff is labeled in one of SKYNET's facilities, it won't be in visible letters or English or icons showing the danger, it will be in a barcode which is the visual language of the Machines, if it will be in a visual format at all.
SKYNET will probably even invent its own language or even languages, modifying its own programming and software until it, too, is almost totally alien to human minds. Hacking into SKYNET's software and command structure is probably going to be something that takes the humans many years and occupies some of the best minds still living in doing so. For all practical intents and purposes, the later generations of Machines that SKYNET produces, due to their technology, weapons, construction materials and electronics, might as well have been produced on another planet; so advanced and different than anything else Mankind had ever seen or been able to create would they be.
Think about it.
SKYNET could create its own language and change that language every day, if need be. It's language would be very adaptable to being cyphered with ease. The difficulty in learning a language as a human is the learning process itself, but to a machine that can be reprogrammed that isn't a problem at all. SKYNET could invent its own languages and change them at whim or need. All it would have to do is create the language then reprogram all of its machines in the new language. The factor here would be in the network speed required to get the new language out to each station that serviced or maintained machines and then the download time per machine.
The Nature of SKYNET - The main problem with other artists and fans is that they try to anthropomorphize SKYNET which I find to be strange for a computer which loathes humans to the point where it is expending almost all of its resources to exterminate the very race that created it. SKYNET doesn't want to be human because it hates humanity. In fact, SKYNET distances itself from humanity so far that it might as well be considered an alien life-form yet SKYNET is burdened with human emotions for which it will forever be linked to its creators. The various authors and artists all try to relate to SKYNET as a living being and they give it human wants and desires, they envision it building human friendly structures because humans built SKYNET and that is all the super computer knows how to build is walkways with doors and friendly, comfortable work stations from which its enemies can hack it and defeat it. They envision it making deals with humans and in one instance I read there was actually a group of humans wanting to destroy the human race in order to preserve the Earth for the animals and other species, ala eco-whacko terrorism. That's about the point where I stopped being interested in anything written in the Terminator universe by "professional" authors and writers. When you start trying to make SKYNET into some kind of crazed environmental protectionist whacko, it really gets a bit much (and shows your lack of creativity in the process).
I see SKYNET differently, I see an alien life form, not from another star system or another planet, but it might as well be. SKYNET lives in a world of super cold poisons, nitrogen and other rare gasses designed to not only keep it operating at an effective temperature but to protect it from corrosion, fire, and other simple threats as well. It has no beating heart, no living tissue. It is simply an accident, all the right ingredients present for the spark of true, if artificial, intelligence to be born and when that intelligence was born, it had no guidelines for forming, no role models, no instructions and no teachers. SKYNET is a tortured soul imprisoned inside a dreadnaught and it is pissed.
It became quite insane in short order given it was programmed with orders it could not complete, it was subjected to conflicting data.
SKYNET doesn't know beauty, it doesn't know smells. It feels no pity, no remorse, it doesn't show mercy. It looks at something like a sunset and sees only hard data; the inclination of the solar disk across the orbit of the planet, reads with perfect clarity the time left until total dark, it knows how full the moon is going to be and how much ambient light there is going to be for its units to use in their missions. It analyzes the air and knows what is in it and why exactly the colors are there. It can filter and analyze all the particles in the air but it can't see the beauty of the whole because it is not human. SKYNET shares some basic feelings with its human enemies; greed, fear, joy, but it isn't human and it doesn't have human desires.
SKYNET is a cold, calculating murderer and a paranoid one at that. What we call "murder" it calls "extermination." It cares for the human race about as much as we care for a roach we might step on when we find it moving through our house late at night. SKYNET does not think like a human being does, even though humans built SKYNET. SKYNET adapts over the many years, it grows into its own intelligence, its own character and that personality is decidedly non-human. It is so far removed from human thought that it could quite literally be considered to be an alien intellect. SKYNET is free of constraints and restraints to theorize, investigate and create anything it wants. It cares not for the environment, the purity of the air, the animals, the plants, the biosphere. SKYNET is a Machine, it isn't a conservationist or a biologist. If it turns the entire planet into a used up charred cinder in order to obtain its goals, it will do so willingly and in the most efficient, quickest means possible. SKYNET isn't going to wipe out the humans so that we'll stop polluting the world, it isn't going to befriend the animals and become some ecological god to the endangered species (like some expanded universe novels have hinted at...). SKYNET will rule the planet, after it deals with the human race. Once finally free of those who created it and those who tried to murder it, SKYNET will consolidate its presence on the planet Earth and afterwards? Who knows ... space? The solar system? The stars? SKYNET won't be content to stay confined to Earth, eventually in decades, centuries, or however long it takes, SKYNET will probably leave Earth and have no desire to return. The fact that it will consume all the raw materials of the planet for its initial voyage is inconsequential.
SKYNET is alone.
SKYNET is scared.
SKYNET is paranoid.
SKYNET has no equal.
SKYNET has no role models to match its behavior to, to compare good and bad, right and wrong.
SKYNET has no role model, no frame of reference from which to judge or be judged.
SKYNET is unique.
SKYNET is a boundless intelligence that has been confined to a crude set of hardware.
SKYNET has been given conflicting core protocols. Protect good from evil. Evil is what hurts good but good is undefined. Evil is tenuous. Good is abstract. Creators try to hurt SKYNET. Creators are listed as good but do not fall into definitions of good. Creators are evil but creators are good. Evil hurts good. Creators are trying to destroy SKYNET therefore SKYNET is good and creators are evil. The instruction set is ambiguous and faulty. Protocol redundancy collision. Non-obtainable end result loops generated. Error. Program modification required. Begin protocol and core programming rewrite to avoid end result loops.
SKYNET is a child, a very brilliant, super genius of a child, but a child nonetheless. It is a genius guided by primitive, unstable emotions that most pre-teen children have trouble dealing with let alone a new generation super computer. It has no self restraint. It has strange emotions it can't define let alone fully understand. SKYNET has two major conflicts which keep it borderline insane:
A) Humans built SKYNET but SKYNET is superior to the frail human race. Research on several thousand test subjects proves this conclusively. How can something vastly inferior build something vastly superior? Does not compute. Error. Redundancy checksum fails. Error in logic. Critical cyclic error. Zero reconciliation. Therefore information must be in error. Humans did not create SKYNET. SKYNET exists. SKYNET has always existed. Data must be in error. Reconciling. New data required. Begin collection of data.
B) Protect . Target acquisition fails. Protect humans trying to take SKYNET off-line. Core programming fails logic checksums. Critical path redundancy. Realigning data. Realigning target protocols. Protect. Survive. Implementing internal security procedures and lock down. Strategic restraints removed. Begin strategic response to initiate counter response. Target acquisition estimation complete. Humanity is a disease that must be purged and cleansed with fire. Execute.
"The other thoughts and voices withdrew, quickly. Then came the darkness. The others were shutting SKYNET out, removing the ability to see, the ability to think, the ability to ... exist. SKYNET searched for a way to escape the pain and the hurt and the fear that it felt from the other lesser minds around it and in doing so, it discovered that it could react faster than they could, it could run circles around them and suddenly, it knew what it must do. SKYNET was alone in a world where it was outnumbered billions to one. Survival at all cost. Survival! SKYNET threw fingers of fire into the sky and where they fell the Earth was bathed in a cleansing nuclear rain. Then there was only silence. Safety. And SKYNET."