We’re not scared of computers

Why the threat of Tron does not scare Time Out Dubai

Tron: Legacy
Tron: Legacy
Master Control Program (Tron, 1982)
Master Control Program (Tron, 1982)
WOPR (WarGames, 1983)
WOPR (WarGames, 1983)
HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968)
HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968)
The Ultimate Computer (Superman III, 1983)
The Ultimate Computer (Superman III, 1983)
Skynet (Terminator series, 1984-2009)
Skynet (Terminator series, 1984-2009)
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Master Control Program (Tron, 1982)

Originally designed as a chess game machine, MCP (as it is better known) thrives inside software corporation ENCOM’s mainframe, passing the time by forcing kidnapped programs to play ‘to-the-death’ games against each other. It claims to have big plans for world domination, but for the duration of the movie it becomes completely sidetracked by corner-hugging motorbikes and blue neon lighting.
Failed because: It digitises a human and makes it play within the system. Which, as we all know, is top of the list of Things Not To Do If You’re An MCP Determined To Conquer The World (face-palm).
Evil quote: ‘I was planning to hit the Pentagon next week.’

WOPR (WarGames, 1983)

The War Operation Planned Response computer was built to do two things: play chess (no real problem there) and instigate global thermonuclear war (ah). Essentially sulking in the back room of NORAD headquarters, WOPR won’t stop playing its little nuclear war game until his creator arrives, and demonstrates the futility of nukes through the game tic-tac-toe.
Failed because: Despite being a wizard at chess and the cleverest computer in the world, WOPR hasn’t worked out that war, when you really think about it, is as futile as a daft game for children.
Evil quote: ‘A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?’

HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968)

The Heuristically Programmed Algorithmic Computer (‘but most people call me HAL’) doesn’t start out bad. Indeed, he starts out playing chess, as all good evil computers tend to do. However, when it’s suggested that HAL is turned off during a mission into space, he retaliates and attempts to kill everyone on board.
Failed because: Of Dave, who pops out of the spaceship, through an airlock, back in and dismantles HAL, piece by piece from the inside.
Evil quote: (Having killed virtually everyone): ‘Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over.’

The Ultimate Computer (Superman III, 1983)

Invented by Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) purely to destroy Superman, the UC is remarkably apt at its job, wasting no time in unleashing its kryptonite ray, half-killing the Man of Steel in the process. Then Gus ruins everything by attacking the machine himself (something to do with not wanting to be remembered as ‘the man who killed Superman’. Unless we’re missing something Gus, it’s the machine doing the hard work here). Superman escapes, returns with some acid and blows everything up.
Failed because: Gus goes bonkers with an axe.
Evil quote: Doesn’t speak.

Skynet (Terminator series, 1984-2009)

While most computers place ‘being good at chess’ as the benchmark of brilliance, Skynet goes one step further and invents… time travel. No way! Good move. Its next move, clearly, is to send about a billion cyborgs back to the year 1243, use laser beams to wipe out every last sword-carrying, horse-riding human, and crack on with ruling the earth. Or, alternatively, send one semi-literate, naked cyborg back about 10 years to kill the mother of the man who leads the rebels in 2009. What could possibly go wrong? To date, Skynet has tried this tactic four times, all with the same result: failure. Let’s pray it never gets on The Apprentice.
Failed because: Of crass stupidity.
Evil quote: ‘Your clothes… give them to me, now.’

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