Machines Gone Wild — Mechanical Monsters

Sometimes, when the auto correct on my iPhone goes mad and alters my text messages beyond recognition, I ponder the intelligence of creating intelligent machines. We’re well on our way to transforming passive screens into screens that measure our responses (pupil dilation, etc.) to the images and words they project; refrigerators that tell us when the milk is going sour; 3-D printers that can spew out their own spare parts; and cars that do the driving without our interference.

Machines that talk are already among us. I opted against having my phone talk to me, especially after an update in my previous phone caused a glitch that turned on an earlier voice control intended for visually impaired users. As it did not like the speed or rhythm of my double taps, I was unable to use my phone until I convinced it to stop talking to me. This happened while I was traveling and at a moment when I needed my phone badly. I’m not going there again…

Utopian and dystopian fictional futures are full of mechanical monsters gone wild — an android convinced it is human OR an android convinced that it is better than human (a human 2.0) are equally dangerous. And any computer mucking with the air vents in a building on earth — or the climate control on a space ship — is bound to do something terribly scary.

Machines, be definition lacking in all emotions including empathy, are capable of a ruthless mathematical logic that 19th, 20th and 21st century fiction has taught us always turns out bad in the end.

I’ve carefully avoided mentioning any of the famous machine monsters. I hope you’ll respond with your favorites (or the ones you fear the most) and tell me why that particular mechanical monster stands out in the crowd.




  1. Kinda funny for me that you bring up the autocorrect issues. I had similar thoughts not too long ago. Microsoft word judges me on a regular basis for my sentence structure and word usage.

    Imagine a world where what you type turns into something else because the computer was not happy with what you wrote. We can even go conspiracy theory and the computer won’t let you type anything it deems inappropriate while also marking you on a watch list.

  2. Personally the only machine I want round that can do anything is a sort of ‘I Robot’.I want the early pre-artist one though since I’d hate a budding Leonardo to be asked to do my washing and ironing. Heaven forbid I should as it to make the beds or I’d find diagrams drawn all over my sheets of just what it would take to turn men into birds.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • Candy

      I Robot? Umm… as long as they don’t get any ideas about taking over. Although turning men into birds is an interesting option.

  3. I’m drawing a blank on a favorite mechanical monster just now, but a phony monster I really love is the episode of Little House on the Prairie where Laura and Albert build a fake Lochness monster to scale the Olsens away from Kezia’s (sp?) place. Have you seen that episode?

    • Candy

      I was never a Little House fan, but that sounds like a great episode. The “real” Lochness was invented as a publicity stunt to draw people to the area’s pubs and hotels. I doubt that was Laura’s objective.

  4. TERMINATOR! lol

    Asimov’s robots were incorruptible, which led me to a love of robots. I still love them, especially anything that can do the housework for me, however the possibility of terminator style robots is a far more likely scenario as who would have more money to develop such things than the military?

    We already have drones. Smart drones seem like the logical next phase of development. Smart, armed drones is just a hop and a skip away after that. 🙁

    • Candy

      I’m pretty much terrified of the prospect of a machine with any amount of emotional intelligence — although I do come from a family that “blames” the machine as if it had a will of its own. We certainly are one step away from that. Of course, nothing will stop my dad from thinking his computer has malicious intent. LOL…

  5. Ever since seeing the first Terminator movie, I have been dreading the day when we start giving machines autonomy. I recently read that an unmanned (ie drone) fighter plane made a successful carrier ship landing. I saw several articles about what a great advance this was. My first thought was, “What if someone figured out a way to jam or even override the remote signal controlling that unmanned plane? All hell would break loose, that’s what.” Other cautionary tales of machines taking over abound. The series of books started in the White Mountains, with the Tri-Pods basically ruling humanity like so many sheep. I, Robot has already been mentioned. There was also the movie Eagle Eye with Shia LeBouf. I love the things we have been able to accomplish with the improvements in technology. But I think we need to draw a very strong line when it comes to allow unmanned things with weapons in our skies. I am sure that they have very sophisticated systems to protect them from being hijacked. That does not guarantee they cannot be overtaken, however. Even scarier is the idea that these things could be made autonomous.

    • Candy

      Agreed! In fiction and especially in reality, an autonomous machine/weapon delivery system is a terrifying prospect. Makes the mischievous auto correct on my phone a laugh riot.