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The Power of Technology

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By lethalxdrummer
Words 1134
Pages 5
Technology Too Powerful?
The year was 1997. The date, August 4th. Skynet, a military computer system used as a global defense network, was activated and given command over all computerized hardware and systems belonging to the United States military. The system also had control over military bombers and the US nuclear arsenal. Skynet was created to eliminate human error and respond quickly to enemy attacks. The system taught itself and by August 29th, gained artificial consciousness. The operators panicked after realizing the capabilities of Skynet and attempted to shut it down. Skynet viewed this as an attack and responded. It’s reponse was the extermination of the humans. Nuclear missiles were launched at Russia and Russia responded with a counter-attack. Over 3 billion people were killed that day. The humans were enslaved by Skynet’s army of machines but started a resistance movement. Today, we are still at battle attempting to over power the machines and regain our world. (The Terminator, 1984) The year today is 2015. We are all living outside of enslavement from machines and our world has not been destroyed by nuclear weapons. What you just read was the basis for the 1984 movie, The Terminator. Technology had been made too powerful, gained self-awareness, and took over the world. Thankfully, that is not our world. However, will it be in the future? Technology may not have progressed as fast and as far as the movie thought that it would by now, but it’s getting better by the day and it’s still possible that we could reach that point where machines become self-aware. With help from the Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction and the Cambridge Companion to Fantasy books, we will explore the connection between science fiction and the real world, analyze the uses of modern day technology, like that of the MonsterMind, and find the events in this movie may await us in our future. Artificial intelligence. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, that is a computer system's capability to imitate intelligent human behavior. Examples of this intelligent behavior include visual perception, speech recognition, and decision-making. While this is a relatively new technology, it is very real and it is already a part of our lives. Due to classified information revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, we know of the communication monitoring surveillance system known as MonsterMind. In an interview conducted with WIRED, Snowden reveals that MonsterMind is a global defense system that searches through massive amounts of metadata and analyzes it to differentiate normal network traffic from malicious traffic. With the knowledge that the NSA receives from this, they can identify and block a foreign threat. Snowden also made suggestions that the NSA could soon make the MonsterMind able to return fire, without human involvement, against the attacker. Now let’s think about this. MonsterMind is a global defense system for the United States that analyzes metadata and can determine a threat. Add in the ability to return fire, then what does this resemble? Yes, it’s capabilities sound eerily similar to what Skynet was capable of. When Skynet was given the ability to respond on it’s own, it didn’t end well. One wrong code or misinformation given to MonsterMind could put us in a situation similar to the movie after Skynet took over. Now let’s look at The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, specifically chapter 5, “Film and Television.” Science fiction is responsible for many real life inventions, such as the communicator(known now as a cellphone) and automatic sliding doors from Star Trek. It’s true that many inventors get their ideas from science fiction novels and movies. Without it, most of our technology that we take for granted may not exist. According to The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, Star Wars grabbed a global audience and introduced them to Sci-Fi movies. With increases in production design and special effects, even the worst movies looked amazing. But through the 1980’s, there was one inventive science fiction action-adventure that gained popularity by scaring audiences with what may be happening in the world. A world where technology was trusted, used as a personal toy and as a self defense weapon. A world where humans gave up their power to a self-aware machine. This movie was, The Terminator. A new movie that sent a warning of what may happen should us humans become careless of what we create. Instead of keeping their control over the defense system, Skynet, the humans gave it control of itself. Realizing soon after what a big mistake this was, it was too late and Skynet responded. Living in comfort was gone. Humans were forced to fight for their lives and their right to live free.
Next, we will use the The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy. After all this talk about machines and technology taking over, let’s view some of the parts of this movie that are fantasy, at least for now. The movie is based around a Model 101 Series 800 Terminator being sent back in time to destroy a young Sarah Connor and prevent her from having her son John, who will eventually become the leader of the human resistance in a future war against the machines. While a global defense system being given self-awareness is a real possibility, a machine being sent back in time is not.
More than thirty years after The Terminator was released, we find ourselves in a similar situation to life in the movie, just prior to the activation of self-awareness for Skynet. We live comfortable lives in a world where technology is everywhere. Cell phones, computers, televisions, video recorders, and machines are all around us. Whether we know it or not, most of our conversations are monitored by nearby technology that reports to MonsterMind. The machine sorts through them to find the evil among us and reports to NSA officials who then take over monitoring the situation. However, this may not always be the case, as Snowden suggested. So while a terminator will never be sent back in time to kill us, will we unleash a machine that will turn and destroy us all?

Sources:

Gove, Philip Babcock, and Inc Webster. Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1993. Print.

James, Edward, and Farah Mendlesohn, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003. Print.

James, Edward, and Farah Mendlesohn, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2012. Print.

Star Trek, the Original Series. Dir. Gene Roddenberry. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy. CBS Television Distribution, 1966. DVD.

The Terminator. Dir. James Cameron. Perf. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Orion, 1984. Film.

Zetter, Kim. "Meet MonsterMind, the NSA Bot That Could Wage Cyberwar Autonomously." Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, 13 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. .

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