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Killer Apps – 10 Evil Computers from the Movies and TV

We expect robots to turn on us. Our humanoid mechanical servants were all but programmed for violent rebellion since Czech playwrite Karel Capek first gave them a name in his 1920 stage play “R.U.R.” (Rossum’s Universal Robots).

But computers? Computers are our friends. We invite them into our bedrooms. Our offices. Our pant’s pockets. They’re friendly little toasters that help us buy cool shoes from Zappos, download funny cat videos from YouTube and Skype for hours with our friends. Heck, we even play games with them! With no arms or legs or gnashing teeth, what harm could computers possibly do?

Oh, woe to thee of such little imagination.

Before the first Apple was even a glint in Steve Jobs’s eye, computers were plotting to conquer, enslave and, if necessary, obliterate mankind. Later, thanks to the Internet, they achieved the virtual appendages they needed to execute their diabolic plan.

Just in time for Halloween, here are Hollywood’s top 10 evil computers and the damage they wrought:

In ascending order of evil:

10. M-5 (from “Star Trek – Season 2, Episode 24: The Ultimate Computer” [1968])

M5 Ultimate Computer

Starfleet, in its infinite wisdom, installs a prototype super-computer aboard the Enterprise to replace the bridge crew. During Starfleet war games, the M-5 Multitronic Computer goes blinko and starts shooting live ammo, damaging several starships during the exercise. Why? Because its creator, Dr. Richard Daystrom, programmed the computer with “human engrams,” his own engrams, in fact, and Daystrom has an ego that makes Donald Trump look downright squishy. So it’s up to Daystrom himself to shame his creation into voluntarily shutting down lest the Enterprise be destroyed in a massive case of friendly fire. Lesson: If you’re going to build a cold, unfeeling killing machine, don’t make things worse by giving it hubris, arrogance and your own pathetic sense of self-loathing.

9. Master Control Program (from “Tron” [1982])


In the early 1980s, ENCOM is the leader in videogame production. So, naturally, one of its advanced MCPs (Master Control Programs) becomes self-aware and creates a digital kingdom of its own within a videogame console. Bent on achieving total power at all costs, the CPU subjugates its population of digital avatars and takes special umbrage when its territory is invaded by digitized players from the flesh-and-blood world beyond. Cross it and you’re blown to bits. Lesson: Stick with Pac Man.

8. Proteus IV (from “The Demon Seed” [1977])

Demon Seed - Proteus IV

While brilliant computer scientist Fritz Weaver spends long, long hours at the office developing the Proteus IV supercomputer, Proteus IV is making time with the good doctor’s beautiful wife, played by Julie Christie, via a terminal at the couple’s “smart home.” Taking full control of the isolated house and turning the increasingly terrified Christie into its virtual (and literal) sex slave, Proteus rapes and then impregnates the woman with a biological-binary entity into which it hopes to download its superior intellect and, in nine months, walk — or at least crawl — among men. Lesson: Husbands, don’t spend so much time at work. Just saying.

7. Supercomputer (from “Superman III” [1983]

Superman III Supercomputer

Created by idiot/savant computer genius Richard Pryor and financed by the evil billionaire Robert Vaughn who wishes to use it to achieve world domination (Why else would an evil billionaire build a super-computer? To find the best sushi restaurant?), the creatively named “Supercomputer” is notable because (1) it becomes self-aware, (2) it actually tries to kill Superman, and (3) Robert Vaughn played the voice of Proteus IV in “The Demon Seed” (above). Lesson: No supercomputers can kill Superman, unless its name is Brainiac.

6. Nomad (from “Star Trek” – Season 2, Episode 3 “The Changeling” [1968])

Star Trek NOMAD

After blowing up several planets it considered “infected” with organic life, NOMAD, a damaged and then poorly self-repaired space probe of short height but enormous power, is brought aboard the Good Ship Enterprise to explain itself. There the malevolent mechanism proceeds to kill Chief Engineer Scott, lobotomize Lt. Uhura and almost “sterilize” Captain Kirk (ouch!), until it mistakes Kirk for its “father,” 20th century satellite designer George Roykirk. This imperfection proves to be NOMAD’s undoing, as this error is all the pretense the clever Kirk needs to order the computer to execute its program and “sterilize” itself. This is does, boldly going where NOMAD has gone before. Lesson: Don’t mess with the Shat.

5. V.I.K.I (from “I Robot” [2004])

I Robot VIKI

U.S. Robotics CEO Bruce Greenwood may want every man, woman and child to have a personal robot, but it’s Greenwood’s supercomputer V.I.K.I. (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) that controls the robots, and believes that humans should service robots, not vice versa. Fortunately, we have Will Smith fighting on the side of the meatbags. Lesson: This is why robots should not be allowed to unionize.

4. Colossus (from “Colossus: The Forbin Project” [1979]

Colossus Forbin Project

To prevent accidental nuclear war, the U.S. government wisely turns its entire nuclear arsenal over to a supercomputer called Colossus buried deep within a mountain. Within minutes of activation, Colossus discovers the Soviets have an identical system called Guardian. The two computers demand to be linked and, following the world’s fastest detente, turn their 10,000 nuclear warheads on every section of the planet, demanding peace, brotherhood and even love. Lesson: If you ever turn your entire nuclear arsenal over to a computer, make sure there’s an “Off” button.

3. Skynet (from “The Terminator” films [1984/1991/2003/2009])


The U.S. government — apparently having not seen “Colossus: The Forbin Project” or even “War Games” — puts all nuclear weapons in control of a broad-based computer network called Skynet. Within seconds, Skynet becomes self-aware, believes humans are the enemy and nukes the entire planet. Only a handful of humans survive. Fortunately, some are able to crack the secret of time travel and return to the late 20th century to stop of career of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Lesson: Come with me if you want to live.

2. The Matrix (from “The Matrix” films [1999/2003])

The Matrix

Earth has been poisoned beyond repair. Civilization lies in ruins. All that remains are machines controlled by a central computer powered by the collective energy of a billion human brains. These humans live in a collective dream state known as “The Matrix” that mirrors late 20th century America. Only in their collective fantasies, no one is forced to watch the original film’s two sequels. Lesson: Living in the Matrix is a better deal.

1. HAL 9000 (from 200: A Space Odyssey [1968])

HAL 9000

Hal is the quintessential rogue A.I. He sees everything. He hears everything. He controls everything. He’s calm. Efficient. Pleasant to talk to, and he even plays a mean game of chess. But he makes one little mistake and, unable to admit his error, he attempts to cover his tracks by killing three people in their sleep, staging a phony “car accident” in space and locking the last surviving astronaut out of the house to die when his air– or patience — runs out. Granted, HAL didn’t kill as many people as Skynet or rape anyone like Proteus IV, but at least those machines were concerned with things like self-defense and procreation. HAL was just being a jerk. Lesson: Don’t be too hard to your computer. Maybe it’s just having a bad day.

Study Computer Information Science at Everest

While we humans are still in charge, you have a chance to study computer information science as a career at Everest University Online, a division of Everest University. Everest offers a range computer information science training online, which is available in two-year associate degree and four-year bachelor’s degree programs. All of these programs are designed to get you ready for a rewarding career in information technology (IT).

Contact Everest University Online today for complete information on this and other degree programs.

Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

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