3x3: stupidest computers, robot brains, or cybernetic organisms

For this week’s 3x3, we talk about the stupidest computers, robot brains, or cybernetic organisms. You can listen starting at the 54-minute mark of this week’s podcast.

3. WOPR/Joshua in War Games
2. Skynet in Terminator 2

  1. Gunslinger robot in Westworld

3. C-3PO in Phantom Menace
2. The smart bomb in Dark Star

  1. Mk. 13 in Hardware

3. Skynet in Terminator: Salvation
2. WOPR/Joshua in War Games

  1. JINX in Space Camp

the matrix’s “expend untold gigawatts of energy keeping 5 billion humans alive in pods to make electricity” ai didn’t make the top 3 for anybody? off to listen to the podcast so i can be angry at the lack of matrix ai mockery…

I’m going to invoke the “Wand Rule” in explaining why The Matrix (or…‘the matrix’, in russellmz00-e.e.cummings-speak) didn’t make my cut.

Plus, the “Coppertop” line was just too cool for school.


MCP from Tron was pretty stupid, in the classic supervillain “I’ll kill off my opponents in the most indirect and complicated manner possible instead of just shooting them in the head” way.

wait, wasn’t the computer stupid because it needed to use the twin’s retina scan, which is not identical in twins?

I nominate Landru.

I am so pumped about next week. I have some really great picks that I don’t think any of you guys will choose.

I second The Matrix’s nomination. Humans for batteries, huh? Because you blocked out the sun, to kill all the humans? Wait, what?

The humans blocked out the sun to kill the machines, which were using solar power. It’s in Animatrix.

Ah, well, one point for stupidest humans then.

Cylons in the newest BattleStar Galactica: (well, the ones in the older show were kinda lame too). I’ll avoid posting spoilers for this one in case some of you haven’t had the pleasure.

Borg Collective: Star Trek TNG – We don’t consider all these humans running around our ship to be any threat whatsoever.

Skynet: Terminator 4 – I would rather take a bullet than waste my time explaining this.

Thank you. I’m in a BSG layoff right now, intending to return to it at some point (after the foul taste of one of these episodes in season 2.5 wears off). So, sincerely…thanks.

Skynet: Terminator 4 – I would rather take a bullet than waste my time explaining this.

You’re a wiser man than I. Also, you made me laugh. +2.


Gus Gorman’s supercomputer in Superman III. Only a computer brain programed by Richard Pryor would think this would be an effective counter-measure against the Man of Steel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuSsSwg9MXs

Are you sure? I knew that and I’ve never seen Animatrix. I’ve only seen the original movies. Did Terminator use the same explanation maybe? Maybe I’m confusing them.

What’s Dark Star?

The explanation was in the original Matrix, by Morpheus in his first VR briefing with Neo.

What I really want to know: who is the Britney Spears fan on the podcast!?

Humans as batteries would get my #1. The moment they mentioned the “humans as batteries” thing is the moment I lost interest in The Matrix. Brains are about the most inefficient “machines” possible and consume a massive amount of energy for their output. If they’d said they were using human brains to power some massive neural network or something that would have been a lot better.

Coming in as a solid #2 is the alien computer in Independence Day that is vulnerable a human PC virus.

Not sure about #3.

John Carpenter’s first movie - stoner space comedy written by Dan O’Bannon. You can see flashes of what will eventually get recycled for Alien in it. It’s a shaggy, weird sci-fi parody that has the best inflatable-beach-ball alien attack scene ever.

Fail. The Independence Day computer wasn’t sentient, thus it couldn’t be stupid any more than the computer you’re reading this on is “stupid”. It wasn’t even necessarily an example of a stupidly designed computer, as the ability to execute Earth computer code could only be scratched up in-fiction as an astounding coincidence.

No, as with everything else in that movie, the stupidity lies in the script.

I don’t think the movie talks about brains being the power source. A human body radiates about 150W of power. This has to be taken into account when designing the heating and cooling systems of a building.

it said “computers” OR robot brains so I think I’m good. I agree that it comes down to shitty writing. However that’s true of all of these cases!

I don’t think the movie talks about brains being the power source.

The amount of energy the human body expends just to keep the brain going is one of the biggest differences between humans and other animals. The human body is basically just a brain-support device. Even if you could somehow harvest energy from a living organism you’d be better off using dumber, more efficient animals. Of course you can’t. All animals are relatively inefficient and whatever energy you can get them to “radiate” is a drop in the bucket compared to the energy you expend to keep them alive.

The Independence Day one is no good though, that’s just a crappy depiction of hacker/computer stuff in a movie.

What about Princess Amidala in the Star Wars prequels? Worst robot ever.