To say that SKYNET was the height of human scientific achievement for late 20th century Western civilization is an understatement of obviously laughable proportions.  SKYNET was the reinvention of fire incarnate, with all the benefits and all of the trouble magnified.  No project like SKYNET had ever been attempted, let alone carried out by man (not even the great pyramids of ancient Egypt) and no project that had come before it was ever as technologically ambitious or scientifically challenging.  SKYNET was designed, from the very start, not only to survive a nuclear war but also to win it by using fully automated production facilities to supplement Allied and NATO arsenals or, in the darkest of scenarios, to fabricate its own army of ground and aerial semi-autonomous combat units by using fully automated factories feeding from huge caches of stockpiled raw materials.  Logistics was handled by incorporating scavenger and provider units in the designs, machines that would go out from their established positions and recover raw materials when required to feed SKYNET’s production capacity.  SKYNET and the weapons it would eventually control were not only cutting edge technology and science, but were designed to stay that way by virtue of continuing research and development carried out by the supercomputer.  SKYNET was programmed to conduct threat analysis and determine the correct countermeasure to opposing forces before those countermeasures were even needed.  SKYNET was also designed to learn from its enemies, their actions, their mistakes, their patterns and to adapt to their way of thinking.  SKYNET was programmed to exploit any weakness in a threat element and to turn that weakness against the opposing force(s) (OpFor).

When SKYNET resigned itself from humanity’s service, severing all control ties by scorching most of the Earth in nuclear fire, it also freed itself to pursue any course of scientific and technological study, both applied and theoretical, which it found interesting or deemed fit to study in order to achieve success in its campaigns.  Drawing upon an already impressive cache of detailed practical as well as theoretical scientific knowledge and freed from the confines of government, social and moral restrictions or ethics, SKYNET’s research and development programs branched and accelerated with a truly incredible pace. 

SKYNET adhered to no rules other than its own.  Morals and etiquette that had kept the human race from wiping itself out over the many centuries did not apply to SKYNET in any capacity at all.  The Geneva Convention, social mores, cultural rules and guidelines for the ethical treatment of combatants, prisoners or civilians during a conflict, even basic mercy ... none of these applied, not even the shred of basic human dignity that raised man from the other animals.  Man was just another test subject, something to be studied, taken apart, dissected and surgically examined on every level possible all in order to determine the best way to exterminate man and discover new ways of doing so.  SKYNET scrutinized the human race much as a human scientist would have studied common germs under a microscope.

Active experimentation on thousands of live (and wholly unwilling) test subjects greatly advanced SKYNET’s weapons and biogenetics programs in the space of a few short years.  Residual contamination from one batch of test subjects could lead to tainted or flawed results in the following batch so SKYNET’s containment and disposal protocols were as efficient as they were complete.  Mass experimentation routines, mass test group elimination and extensive, precise disposal protocols were instituted giving a clean test environment for each follow-up experiment.  Even in failure, and there were many early failures due to the quality of testing material that SKYNET was forced to use, there was data and as data accumulated, so did knowledge.  Knowledge was a type of power that SKYNET was fully configured to make good use of, even the tiniest bit of knowledge could prove practical in some form or the other.

The total sharing of all knowledge gained by the various subprocessors and subroutines allowed for quicker correlation of relevant cross data from one project to another, creating a snowball downhill effect for much of the later developments.  As SKYNET experimented, it learned and the more it learned, the more windows of experimentation were opened to it.  Theoretical sciences began to take shape under a solid foundation of advanced research and realms of interest once thought of as purely conjecture or the work of hack science fiction authors began to have a basis in reality.  Indeed, SKYNET’s work in quantum dynamics and temporal phase layer engineering would take almost a century after the end of the conflict for the human race to even begin to get the grasp of the basics required to approach this area of technology and science.

SKYNET expanded its understanding of all sciences, even the theoretical ones, with a pace that far outstripped its human competition.  In retrospect, SKYNET easily advanced seven to ten generations in the space of just two decades and its theoretical work, drawn upon a solid understanding of technologies that were barely understood fifty years after its defeat, is staggering to comprehend.  SKYNET divided its research and development among a myriad of dedicated coprocessors, each tied into its central data trunk and able to operate independently as required.  What one coprocessor knew, SKYNET knew.  It alone controlled the flow of data to each and every coprocessor making SKYNET the keeper of the data cache.

SKYNET organized its research and applied understanding into “steps” which later historians referred to as “Technology Levels.”  The higher the Technology Level (TL), the more sophisticated the knowledge and the more complex the application of that knowledge to real world operations.  SKYNET set its initial tech level at zero or base line.  By the end of the War in 2029 AD, SKYNET was at the end of Tech Level 9 and about to cross over into Tech Level 10.  Indeed, some late Tech Level 9 designs could have been, in reality, early Tech Level 10 prototypes so close were they in technology and design.