Ten badass brainy computers from science fiction
Great movie motherboards
Computers used to be our loyal servants. But slowly and surely, we've let them control us. I used to believe these machines had the ability to positively change the world, but after the 56K modem invented Dubstep in the 1990s, I've been somewhat sceptical. So have film makers.
Boost a PC with a new processor these days and results speak for themselves. Skip forward a decade or so and apparently the computers will too. And if supercomputer Watson is able to thrash us at Jeopardy already, who knows what the future has in store? Perhaps Tinsel Town's fictional predictions will ring true... increase the bytes a bit too far - badum tish - and laptops could take over the world.
Here's a look at ten films in which a computer takes top billing. Let us know if you think we've missed any crucial inclusions.
Here's one for you already. We've excluded The Matrix because it doesn't really fit. While there are plenty of self-aware machines in the film, the mainframe itself is more of an unconscious software environment.
This French black-and-white classic features a dictatorial computer, Alpha 60, which outlaws free thought and bans all forms of creative expression in the city of Alphaville. While most movies with computer characters assume consciousness breeds emotion, the sentient system here fails to understand it and interrogates those who show feelings before executing them in punishment.
I think the Alphaville interpretation of a computer consciousness hits the nail on the head. Even the most powerful of machines would struggle to comprehend the illogicality of human emotion, and just as we've seen throughout history, when an entity with power believes their way is the only rational approach, muscles are flexed and mortality is inevitable. See, it doesn't matter whether machines fail to get the emotional drive started... let them become aware of themselves and we're stuffed.
HAL Rating 80%
More info IMDB
Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)
When Charles Forbin builds an advanced supercomputer - aka Colossus - as a means to safely control the United States' nuclear weapons arsenal, did anyone expect it not to go rogue and take over the world?
Yes, after colluding with its Russian equivalent and evolving of its own accord, that's exactly what Colossus does, eventually forcing Forbin into captivity so it can keep watch of its creator at all times.
A predictable battle ensues between man and machine, as humans try to re-establish control, and Colossus tries to convince us that freedom is merely an illusion. Those of you unfamiliar with the 1970 film should watch it quickly before the rumoured remake - featuring Hollywood's protector of the Earth, Will Smith - hits cinema screens in the near future. God forbin.
HAL Rating 90%
More info IMDB
Next page: Deep Thought
Not a computer per se but the computer-controlled bomb in Dark Star is worth a mention, surely? Nice to see Holly in there though.
Perhaps the "Talky Toster" from Red Dwarf should get a mention, it's toasted bread products obsession was something to behold. I always thought of it as a Microsoft Product.
This list is broken, no mention of Orac or the ships computer from Star Trek.
Avon: "Slave. Why have the lights gone blue and the screen blanked out?"
Slave: "I most humbly regret to inform the masters that a program exception error has occurred in location 0x00fe09cda2, and that as a result the ships operations have been closed down to prevent possible damage. An error log is being generated, and upon the system rebooting the fault will be reported. Sir. Once again, I am most dreadfully sorry that this has happened."
Re: re 2001
No, you're mangling 2001 and 2010 (when they put in the kill device, and then Doc Chandra quietly took it out again when nobody was noticing).
I always felt rather sorry for HAL --- he wasn't evil, he was driven insane by bad management and unfollowable orders. Even so trying to kill everyone on board is a little extreme; all he really needed was a little primal scream therapy.