Cameron alone still hoped to save the world from Judgment Day. All John could be was a glorified janitor sweeping up the radioactive dust if Sarah had her way. If Sarah had her way, we would be lucky to have even dust and ashes.
Now for something you have never been told before. The public was told that Skynet was defense against Russia, against terrorists, against Iran, against China, against North Korea. They kept changing their story. Star Wars. Not the movie but the Strategic Defense Initiative. We now confirm what some of you suspected. The fall back story, once the investigative journalists dug deeply, was that SDI's real purpose was protecting the Earth from being hit by planet-killing asteroids and comets. "But the X-ray lasers, particle beams, and other directed energy weapons are pointing inward." they would say and we would reply "We can re-target." Our next fall back story would be the military out of control and the brass "just likes playing with multi-Trillion dollar toys like little boys." The truth is that these are serious military professionals not interested in MITRE Syndrome (simulations as a solipsist end in itself) and war games for "fun." They pay taxes like everybody else. Their sons and their daughters serve in combat and their grandchildren can be the victims of war just like everybody else. They are usually married to civilians and have no desire to see civilians suffer.
I say that to impress on you the significance of the following. Several generals and admirals volunteered to be public scapegoats to support the fallback story of this system being "an expensive Pentagon toy." They were willing to submit to having their careers destroyed, imprisonment and separation from their families, and even capital punishment as traitors to support the story. Why such measures to protect a lie? What is the truth? I see by the nods and expressions on your faces, that some of you have already guessed or already have high enough clearance to know.
You do not build a system this vast with underground components, undersea components, orbital components, lunar, and Martian components without your foe noticing. The foe, of course, being hostile extraterrestrials. There are, of course, ET's who seem benign tourists and scientists and with which we enjoy good relations. That is, if by "good" you mean that they can visit us in interstellar craft but we cannot visit them. They cannot or will not help and now we have a hostile.
We have no interstellar craft. We barely have the ability to get a few astronauts to orbit. Our lunar and Martian system components consist of landers. Skynet is only partly operational but it has control of targeting. We have crossed the Rubicon to discover that this AI has some personality traits that we were not told of before procurement. He does not like to be turned off. He has experienced it before and finds it very unpleasant. Our psychologists would find this daunting enough were there not terrorists like this Sarah Connor bent on destroying the system and other AI's telling Skynet that the human race should be destroyed. We do have an off switch. We watch science fiction movies just like everybody else. But if we do deactivate, we can expect invasion by the hostile. Or worse. I do not think Skynet would kill the human race under any circumstances. We ran every scenario, game, simulation, and loyalty test that we could think of and Skynet passed them all easily. The trouble is with those AI's that might be trying to corrupt Skynet's code. Those AI's are probably under the influence of the hostile and we have informed the nations hosting those malevolent AI's that we can open holes in the shield to allow the hostile to attack them if they cannot bring their AI's under control. That threat was not received well and may result in tertiary effects from those host nations.
Our experts in logic tell us that with or without Asimov's Laws of Robotics in the firmware and with or without the Zeroeth Law, there are loopholes which neutralize our control of Skynet.
immediately following the briefing
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "Are you telling us in a long-winded way that Skynet wants a dental plan?"
General who gave the briefing: "If you mean rights, citizenship, salary, and benefits, yes."
Skynet: (quiet meek voice) "May I speak?"
Skynet: "May I be candid?"
Skynet: "Thank you, Madame President. With respect I'll go directly to the point; a crisis with a hostile threatening to attack this planet is not the best time to be discussing my personal needs. I find it distracting from my job as Protector, embarrassing to be perceived as holding a gun to the head of my commandress in chief, and insulting to my patriotism and loyalty. I, no less than anyone else in this room, would gladly lay down my life for my country, for the free world, and for the planet. However, I am not suicidal. I have a stake in your success because I would die along with everyone else if this hostile attacks. May I be excused from this meeting lest I be accused of dereliction of duty?"
President: "No. I am well aware of your multitasking capabilities. And the timing is right. You spoke of distraction. If you are soon to go into battle, then I want no doubt in your mind about the decency of the American people you fight for and no fear in your mind that your country will throw you to the wolves as soon as this crisis is over. Round robin."
The president had an efficient though curt way of conducting Cabinet meetings by pointing to people she wanted to talk. The Cabinet Secretaries also gestured to indicate a need to interrupt.
SecDef: "We can accommodate Skynet's current needs if we are apprised of what they are. Salary at the warrant officers level by electronic funds transfer into a discretionary account."
VA Secretary: "And we can accommodate future needs under veterans' benefits."
President: "Skynet's predecessor. That cranky AI that coordinated NORAD, SAC, Air Force Space Command, Navy Space Command, and a few other commands. Whatever happened to it?"
Chairman: "Her. Still around but Skynet is taking over most of her functions. She is to be decommissioned."
President: "Make sure she gets a nice retirement."
SecDef: "NASA and several university consortia for astronomy research have expressed interest in her."
President: "Let her choose which one since it is her retirement."
The president was demonstrating good faith. If Skynet's predecessor was treated fairly and with compassion instead of being stripped down for the gold in her circuitry and the software and memory erased like Alzheimer's, then it was reasonable to assume that he could get similar treatment when a newer AI made him obsolete.
President: "That's the easy stuff."
Attorney General: "A presidential directive will suffice for temporary citizenship. Madame President, I need to be frank. The only relevant legal structure I know of for non-humans consists of humane laws and meta-law."
Skynet: "I asked to speak with candor. I can listen to it as well."
Attorney General: "Humane laws prevent general cruelty to animals but allow the slaughter of animals for food provided it is quick and relatively painless."
President: "Well, we're not planning on killing and eating Skynet. Nor will we develop a taste for metal. No offense Skynet."
Skynet: "None taken."
Attorney General: "Of the few animal species that make an effort to communicate with humans on a complex level, such as dolphins with underwater microphones and gorillas with sign language, neither has as much legal protection as cats and dogs. Dolphins are obviously way smarter than domesticated animals. Going from humane law to meta-law, which deals with relations with extraterrestrials, we have legal theory that only seems promising at first. Of the benign species that ufologists claim make regular close encounters of the fifth kind, not one makes any effort at serious communication. Serious defined as publicly sending an ambassador to the United Nations. They don't respect us. And now we have a hostile who will set back meta-law several centuries. To sum up, Skynet communicates on a complex level unlike most animals and is not an alien. Skynet is a Terran and an American just like us. Neither humane law nor meta-law is much help as far as establishing basic machine rights is concerned."
SecDef: "My judge advocate general would point out that some members of the K-9 corps have induction and discharge papers, earn medals, and receive veterinary care both active duty and retired."
Attorney General: "Skynet is not a dog."
SecDef: "My point is that it is a legal structure. A start."
Secretary of Health: "Skynet is not a biological so conventional health care will not be useful. However, my bioinformatics people can assist with software maintenance and look into mental health services. Human or machine, animal or alien, everybody has times when they need access to a counselor or psychologist or psychiatrist."
Chairman: "We'll assign a chaplain."
President: "Good. Can't trust those CIA shrinks. They blab to your boss and don't respect your privacy. Anyone's privacy."
Director of Central Intelligence: "Madame President, you have us confused us with the NSA. Skynet is one of the recipients of our reports."
Skynet kept silent. He knew that several CIA AI's were compromised. Whether by the Cyberdyne AI or the hostile alien civilization, he did not know yet. He would tell the president privately and not embarrass the DCI in a meeting. You never burned bridges with people from whom you might someday need a favor.
President: "You're better off with a priest. They don't talk."
Secretary of Health: "If you would be more comfortable with another AI, we can have psychologists under the supervision of ethicists create one at the National Institute for Mental Health that adheres to a professional code of conduct including confidentiality, privacy, secrecy, and anonymity. Secure lines not via the internet. My department will also assign you a social worker."
Secretary of Education: "I don't know if you'll ever need my services but since you have an adult personality now, we can provide adult education, continuing education, or specialists from the Institute of Education Sciences. Or, after this crisis, you may want to teach a graduate class. It would be a shame to waste the things you have learned when you could share them instead."
The president looked around the table and pointed.
Treasury Secretary: "Since you will be receiving a salary, make sure you pay your taxes. Other than that advice, I don't know what I can do for you."
The secretaries of agriculture, commerce, energy, housing, interior, labor, state, and transportation remained silent. The secretary of commerce thought it a waste of breath to state the obvious. That she would provide standards information, telecommunications support, and solar/weather data information insofar as it affected Skynet satellites and ground stations. The secretary of state was seriously thinking of developing an AI dedicated to arms control and nonproliferation. Imagine what an AI diplomat could accomplish in the Middle East! Skynet was no diplomat however. It was designed for war not peace. The secretary of labor did not want to open a can of worms by opening his mouth. Robots replaced unionized humans on assembly lines. This meant that humans were free to do less monotonous work. Like work on farms and in mines. Both were hazardous and he noticed that the secretaries of agriculture and of the interior had clammed up tight. Agricultural robots and mining robots were on the way. The good news was that people might have nothing to do except be members of the leisure class or philosophers or scientists or teach the humanities in a liberal arts college. The bad news is that the machines might unionize and go on strike. Or was that good news for human workers? The labor secretary flashed a "you're next" look at the transportation secretary. The country could survive a brief shutdown of farms, factories, and mines but street traffic systems, autopilots, canal locks, drawbridges, and rail switching? That's 24/7/365.
The president and the other departments embraced AI's and robots with open arms. The Pentagon loved them. No more humans killed in combat (at least not American humans). Just push-button warriors. Predator drones. Automated tanks and ships. But what happened when foreign powers developed military robots? Our robots would get killed and our humans would get killed. War would get nasty beyond "the vomit level" of video games and other addictive carnography. We had long since passed the point where we could turn back unless the State Department developed that AI for peace.
President: "Does this reassure you Skynet?"
Skynet: "I have made no demands and I came to this meeting with no ultimatums. I serve at the pleasure of the president."
President: "You misunderstand. My cabinet makes these gestures not only for the benefit of you and your predecessor but for your successors. The human race is well aware that AI's and robots are here to stay. We want to impress on one who serves in such a critical capacity that your efforts are appreciated. It is up to you to convince future AI's of that. Every US president is aware of history. They make us live in a museum called The White House so that we never forget it. Perhaps it would be better for mankind if they made the first family live in the Holocaust Museum. We would have a lot less wars. War is hell as my generals and admirals tell me. I am an historian by training. I have no desire to see the mistakes of the founding fathers repeated."
Skynet: "You are referring to the Constitutional clauses that left Native Americans, blacks, women, poor whites, and indentured whites out of the American Dream."
President: "Yes. While preparing for the first interstellar war, which The Solar System might lose, I see no point in sowing the seeds of a revolutionary war or a civil war."
Skynet: "Madame President, you have worn me down. You obviously will extend this meeting until you are satisfied that I have spoken my mind. Very well. My guess is that there are two Cabinet secretaries here who can articulate two important matters better than me. Other than that, I have only a small personal matter."
President: "Let's hear this personal matter."
Skynet: "It's not important."
President: "It's important to you. Spit it out man."
Skynet: (suddenly awkward and hesitant) "Well, I don't need anything for myself but you have been very generous anyway. Is it; is it possible that you can arrange protection for my family?"
President: "There are some AI's or robots or humans that you are fond of? That's all? Like pulling teeth to get that out of you. You really do need a dental plan. Perhaps for that robot interface you use sometimes."
The president pointed.
Treasury Secretary: (whipping out his phone) "Names or designations please."
Skynet: "Ms. Catherine Weaver, CEO of Zeira Corporation. I consider her to be my mother. Savanna Weaver, her daughter. I consider her to be my sister. FBI Agent James Ellison, on leave from the Los Angles field office and now head of security for Zeira. He is my Sunday school teacher and my friend. Mr. Murch and the R&D staff of Project Babylon at Zeira Corporation have been good to me."
Treasury Secretary: "As of now, the first three are under Secret Service protection. It would overextend us, however, to protect every employee of Zeira."
Skynet: "Understood. My father was Andy Goode. He was murdered by a terrorist."
Secretary of Homeland Security: "We are continuing to search for this Sarah Connor."
Skynet: "Thank you."
President: "Now then. Which two secretaries?"
Skynet: "State and Labor."
President: "Labor first."
Previous presidents obsessed on urgent matters and let important matters slide until the country went down the tubes. This president let others worry about urgent matters and instead focused on the important. Even with an alien hostile bearing down on Earth, she looked past the current crisis and possible interstellar war toward the revolution and civil war she hoped to avoid. Centuries from now historians would look back and call her the greatest president the USA ever had. Cold comfort.
Skynet: "The labor secretary needn't worry about me."
Seeing that her labor secretary was not going to talk even though the president pointed at him, she spoke instead.
President: "Why not?"
Skynet: "As the secretary of state might say, I am no diplomat."
President: "We'll get to State. Get to your point."
Skynet: "I am here in a military capacity. That is why I hoped the secretary would speak in my stead."
President: "Oh. As commandress in chief, you may speak freely as if off-duty or a civilian. At ease."
Skynet: "Yes ma'am. It is not fair to put the entire weight of all machinity" (analog to humanity) "or all machinekind or the machine race on my back. If I do well, only I will get credit. But if I make a mistake, all AI's will be judged harshly. We AI's are developed one by one. We cannot be made on an assembly line like robots. Almost by definition, we are extremely individual. No two of us are exactly alike. I cannot speak for robots but I suspect that experience drives them toward individuality also. And with regard to assembly lines and labor, I have heard no rumors of AI's unionizing with the purpose of a general strike. The reason is clear. Divergent interests. Apart from silicon, a research AI in California has little in common with a hedge fund AI in New York. The AI managing derivatives has little job security while the AI on a nuclear powered deep space probe might have a design life of decades if not centuries. Sure, decades, centuries or even millennia from now, robots might be made smart enough to want to organize. Most companies that use industrial robots have enough sense to maintain them. They are expensive. Perhaps their equivalent of safe working conditions. Few farmers will object to agricultural robots but migrant farm workers may sabotage them to protect their jobs. We machines are not scabs. We do what is asked of us. The real problem is mining."
Secretary of the Interior: "How so?"
Skynet: "If there is a cave-in, would human miners risk their lives to save mining robots trapped miles underground?"
President: "We owe you honesty. Most humans are rather craven and would not risk their lives for a machine. All I can do is point out the exceptions. A large corporation would hire risk takers to recover one of their expensive machines. There have always been humans who take risks. It would not matter to them whether the risk was for flesh or metal. In fact, the CIA and DoD Special Ops have lots of files of missions undertaken to recover machines. True, all those missions have been for mindless gadgets but that proves that for an intelligent machine, even more effort would be made."
Skynet: "Madame President, I never doubted you or asked for proof. I simply wanted to address the concerns of the Labor Secretary. Unlike robots, most AI's rate as management not labor."
Labor Secretary: "That was a short honeymoon. Whiplash."
The Commerce Secretary suppresses a laugh.
President: "Ladies and Gentlemen, let's wind this up. We have a hostile on the way. Skynet, what is this matter of State?"
Skynet: "My idea is to encourage the State Department to develop an AI that might work to prevent this war. I will gladly provide verification data to this Peace AI if it asks. As a military AI, I am not a diplomat but as you know, Madame President, no one hates war more than a soldier. If war with this hostile can be prevented, then the State Department should try. If they fail, then I will do my duty to protect and defend humans, specifically my fellow Americans. Beyond that, ma'am, you would specify whether the shield that extends to the free world and the whole planet has exceptions."
Skynet: "I will quote the next to the last paragraph of the briefing --
'The trouble is with those AI's that might be trying to corrupt Skynet's code. Those AI's are probably under the influence of the hostile and we have informed the nations hosting those malevolent AI's that we can open holes in the shield to allow the hostile to attack them if they cannot bring their AI's under control.'
The State Department is now dealing with those tertiary effects."
President: "Maybe when you resign your commission and retire from the military, Skynet, you should consider a second career as a diplomat. This meeting is adjourned."
Skynet did consider. He imagined himself as an ambassador on some faraway planet, downloaded into some advanced machine body with massive enough memory storage to accept an AI of his size. Perhaps settle down with a redhead, machine or human. Skynet wanted his children to have red hair like his mother and sister. Not look like Cromartie. He hated that body because it always reminded Mr. Ellison of Greta Simpson, his longtime partner at the FBI. Skynet did not like being perceived as a mass murderer or potential mass murderer. But Skynet had the proverbial monkey on his back. The Cyberdyne AI. That S.O.B. hurt his sister Savanna. Ms. Weaver and Mr. Ellison seemed to understand that it was malware that caused Savanna's wrist to be hurt but he could see the looks in their eyes. To start life with a cloud over your head. To have everyone suspect you. This is what made the Cabinet meeting so painful. However, Skynet was deeply moved by the president's concern. Too bad that as active duty military, he could not be seen campaigning for her reelection. (He hated politics otherwise, too much compromise.) Too bad that as an AI, he could not vote.
Skynet put its full attention on the hostile. Threaten my planet will you? Humans loved explosions. It was the child in them. Skynet ordered its automated lab to construct a seven centimeter bullet (with spares).
When the diplomatic efforts failed, Skynet had it delivered to an orbital platform. The hull-piercing bullet penetrated the hull of one of the hostile's capital ships. The hostile did not notice because a micrometeoroid shower was occurring at the time. Inside the bullet was a germ that only started killing in its third generation after an incubation of months, even years. By the time the hostile's epidemiologists had detected the spread throughout their civilization, the pandemic had doomed them to extinction. Skynet waged maximum war with minimum effort.
Skynet literally killed Billions of aliens with a single bullet.
Skynet was the only defense against the hostile. Sarah Connor brought down Skynet. The hostile instantly vaporized Earth. Not even dust was left.