The terminator has been dethroned as sci-fi’s most terrifying killer robot. That honor now, and probably forever, belongs to the headless, robotic, murder dogs from Black Mirror’s episode ‘Metalhead’. Set sometime in the future, with pretty much no details given on how the world ended up in such a state, except for the fact that a pack of almost invincible, quadrupedal drones stalk the land, murdering as if on auto-pilot, forever carrying out some outmoded directive of a long-ago ended war.
But seriously, watching one of these headless robot dogs break out into full, high-speed lope as it chases a fleeing van is unsettling on some primal level. Maybe it’s the lack of a face, or the fact that it clearly has only one goal in mind: murder anyone it comes into contact with, as quickly and efficiently as possible. I won’t spoil the rest, but it’s the best episode of the new season.
It’s unsettling in a different way as well, in that this future is entirely within the realm of possibility. It’s not that far-fetched a notion that the military would create an army of almost invincible dog drones, equipped with weapons and one task. Imagine if Google’s Go-mastering AI were uploaded to each drone as well? How would any military stop a drone army that could learn and adapt in order to carry out its assigned task?
The robot apocalypse doesn’t require a fully self-aware AI, but maybe just a military drone that we built a little too well.