Terminator 4, from the point of view of a programmer


Needless to say, this post contains tons of SPOILERS, so if you plan on watching the film, stop reading now!

---------- Spoilers below ----------

We had been strolling up and down the streets of Bristol for several hours and our legs were tired. Nice city, although very hilly! That didn't show up in Google StreetView. And so we thought, let's find a cinema! We finally ended up in the new Showcase deluxe multiplex cinemas (much nicer than the shabby Odeon) and chose Terminator 4. There wasn't much more to choose from; after having watched Transformers, I would require to be paid to watch Transformers 2.

After the movie ended, we felt a bit analytical and began enumerating the little flaws in the script. It's not bad for an action movie, I argued, ... but after having read a good amount of sci-fi books and, specially, since I'm a programmer and have seen how things truly work, the script is overly optimistic.

Optimistic?, you'll ask. How come, if it predicts a dark, near future where humanity is in a continuous war against the machines. Well, I say so because there's no way humanity can build such intelligent and advanced systems. Just look around you: air planes which fail and explode in the middle of the ocean, or maybe even just minutes after taking off, trains which collide with each other because the system didn't take them into account, and etcetera. On a minor scale, look at the operating system you use daily. For sure it has flaws -- human flaws.

The only way humanity could build something like the machines in the movie would be as a result of an accident. That is, without acting on purpose or knowing beforehand what they were doing and what did they want to achieve. By pure chance.

Even though, the probability of that happening is so remote that I believe we would have auto-exterminated ourselves centuries before. There's no biggest enemy for humanity than humanity itself. Simple proof: how many lives have been lost in wars, versus how many lives have been lost in natural disasters? And when I say natural disasters, I take it with a good pinch of salt. Some of the recent disasters, such as rain flooding in the south of England, seem to be a direct consequence of building just too much over places that shouldn't be urbanised, preventing the rain from being naturally absorbed by the soil, and therefore it's just an easy recipe for catastrophes.

So that being clarified, here are some other things that didn't seem very appropriate in the movie:

  • USB connectors. So the machines and the humanity are in a war, but they still agree on using USB connectors. Does that mean that fireware is deprecated, then?
  • Displays. Why do machines need a display on their equipment? Won't it be easier for them to send a wireless signal? The Override display on the motorbike that John Connor picks up is useful only for humans.
  • The radio is already tuned on the proper frequency. Or is it that they emit the same signal in every frequency, just in case?
  • Sony VAIO. The resistance not only uses an amazing array of technology; it's even VAIO branded. Where is the factory for building them?
  • The machines get totally switched off when exposed to a certain frequency. WHAT???? Edit: As luchyx points out, there is something like this already, but it is highly classified: the electromagnetic bomb
  • How come that when Marcus connects to the main computer, he actually seems to know what he's doing, and yet the evil Skynet doesn't use that opportunity to completely erase any human behaviour from his brain just in case it decides to help its human friends?
  • Furthermore: why do they leave him with a human heart when they reconstruct him (or whatever they call the process), when it's one of the weakest points of failure in humans? Answer: so that we can have a happy ending and John Connor doesn't die?

I think there were more things like these, but I can't quite remember now. It's that kind of flaws you need to ignore and forget if you want to enjoy the movie; as soon as you try to take it seriously, the script falls apart.