Militarized Robotics as Described in the Terminator Films: How Much Longer do We Have Until Robots Take Over?

Dylan Hintz
Biology in Society
Dr. Hunter

Militarized Robotics as Described in the Terminator Films:

How Much Longer do We Have Until Robots Take Over?

As predicted in the 1984 film, The Terminator, directed by James Cameron, the world should now be completely overrun by vicious Hunter-Killer robots, intent on placing humans in concentrations camps for, as the protagonist of the original film calls it, “orderly extermination.” In the science fiction story, the robot army begins it’s rebellion against humanity in the year 1997, fighting humanity to secure a future of only artificial intelligences. As restated in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the rise of the machines would come forth in an attack using sophisticated jet bombers to enrage a nuclear holocaust between a still-existent Soviet Union and a trigger happy United States, wiping out the majority of human life as it was known and leaving the left over for “processing.” If this ever happened, every person on the planet would be affected.

Thankfully, the current year is 2008, and human beings still rule the land, confident in their control over their mechanical servants. What if robots of high intelligence could be properly controlled, as stated in the second film, before their rebellion, and could be used in such ways as “air plane pilots who never sleep or get hangovers,” and would “provide unmanned aircrafts that could guard our borders all day and night, without getting tired or missing a beat?” Would the unmanned aerial vehicles (known as UAV’s) take over these jobs that require significant training and risk? If the promise of a non-hostile robot military program was available, should mankind immediately give it a thumbs up and accept it as a savior from the loss of human life on the battlefield, saving thousands of soldier’s lives per year? As recently as February of 2008, DARPA has been cited as going into “the second phase of artificial intelligence technology that will help automate military air traffic control.” While it might be eleven years behind the predictions of the two Terminator films, the military contractors are starting to catch up.

Humans will affect this subject because they create robots in their own image, as tend to be bipedal creations like ASIMO from Japan, or the Terminator itself in the James Cameron films. Both are bipedal, feature heads, and human styled appendages. And while some will look like humans, others will perform the functions of humans like the jet-pilot robots described by DARPA, and designed by Lockheed Martin.

The idea of robots was first devised by Heron of Alexandria around the first century, B.C.E, as tools that could help society such as fire-engines and steam powered transportation systems. The first known programmable automaton was created in 1206, an entertainment toy known as al-Jazari’s drinking boat. It would float along the water and entertain the guests of parties with whimsical music, played by its four programmable musicians. Back then, mobilized robotics were used as trinkets, did not act on their own, and had no intention to dominate the world as we know it. Lockheed Martin’s official website tells us to “Imagine a team of unmanned helicopters and airplanes, working together as a team despite the fact that communications lines are unreliable.” The advanced technology laboratories of Lockheed Martin predict a failure-proof aviation network, but who knows? One day the computers may just wake up and decide that human error is a failure that must be destroyed from its very source.


Cameron, James. The Terminator. 1984, Artisan Entertainment. 108 minutes.

“                    ”. Terminator 2: Judgment Day. 1992, Artisan Entertainment. 137 minutes.
Layer8. December 10th 2008. “DARPA advances artificial intelligence program for air
traffic control”, Last
modified 02/11/2008.

University of Sheffield. December 10th 2008. “A 13th Century Programmable Robot”, Last modified
December 10, 2008

Lockheed Martin Corporation. December 10th 2008. “History of ATL.”
Last Modified December 10th, 2008

Creative Commons License
Militarized Robotics as Described in the Terminator Films: How Much Longer do We Have Until Robots Take Over? by Dylan Hintz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.