Opinion

When computers go wrong

Films are increasingly looking towards computers to provide us with entertainment. Sadly most of these films seem to be dystopian nightmares where computers have gone nuts and decided that the only way forward is to eliminate humanity altogether. It seems that nothing can stop them, even pulling the plug out of the back of them. Here are some of the best examples:

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  • Colossus: The Forbin Project. Made in 1970, this thriller was set around the time of the Cold War. To make sure that the Soviets don’t catch them on the hop NATO in North America have constructed a vast Supercomputer, Colossus, to watch over the entire countrys’ defence. So far, so good. Unfortunately, Colossus decides to chat with its counterpart in Russia (who have helpfully done the same thing), and they both decide it would be better if they were in charge. When the Humans object, both Computers say they will release every nuclear missile they control, which is all of them.
  • WOPR in War Games. Fourteen years later, it seems that Human beings haven’t learnt their lesson, and the United States has built WOPR, a system that constantly plays war games to see if there is any way that a war can be won using Nuclear weapons. Two teenagers hack into the system, and the friendly WOPR ask them if they like to play a game. It gives them two choices. Tic Tac Toe or Chess. Weirdly, the teenagers ask to play Global Thermo Nuclear War. WOPR thinks it’s actually being attacked and that the Soviets have decided to fire everything they’ve got. WOPR decides to reply in kind; the only trouble is that the computer will use live ammo.
  • Skynet. The rapid advances in computer robotics and technology have all taken us a little bit by surprise. Skynet is the worst example of this. Again the United States Armed forces decided to let a sophisticated computer run its entire military network. The system becomes self-aware and decides that humanity has to go (why computers do this is never fully explained). It launches every Nuclear Missile that the USA has thus triggering off everyone else’s in response. It then decides to make deadly killer robots to hunt down whose left.

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  • HAL 9000. Going into space presents even more issues. At least on Earth, you can head for the hills if there are computer issues, but if you are on a spaceship dependent on the computer to run everything, you have a severe problem. HAL 9000 is in charge of a mission to Jupiter, and whilst assessing the mission’s probability for success, it quickly realises the weak link is the humans trying to get there in the first place. HAL decides to be rid of them, and the only way to stop him is to climb inside the computer and pull his plugs out one by one.

What should be remembered in all of this is that a human has programmed the machines in the first place. If it’s traced back to you that there is a problem, it might be a good idea to have Cyber Liability Insurance from https://jmpcyberinsurance.co.uk/what-we-do/cyber-liability-insurance/ to cover yourself and the business.

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