Fiction or Reality? The Terminator’s Enduring Legacy

Metalic robot scull with red eyes
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I could not tear myself away when this mini documentary came on the radio.

I’ll be back: 40 years of The Terminator is a fast-paced 30-minute BBC radio programme available on replay marking four decades since the movie was released.

It features movie producer Gale Anne Hurd, who co-wrote the film script with James Cameron, and Professor Beth Singler, an anthropologist who shares my obsession with the intersection of science fiction and reality.

Fascinating facts from the show include:

  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s coffin was lowered into the ground to the Terminator 2 theme song. He thought it was ‘the best film in the whole world’.
  • The scrolling red text in the film was hand-generated using assembly code from a 1980s computer processor, used to programme early games consoles and washing machines.
  • Only one place on earth – a factory in the Netherlands – manufactures the equipment that makes the real life chips powering AI. Not sure I’d want to live next door.


Best of all, the programme manages to swerve the yawn-inducing dualistic ‘scared?/not scared?’ AI hype that so many media pundits trot out.

But then, I’m an optimist and LOVE IT when a scientist bigs up human agency.

That’s just what the movie does, personified by the iconic and inspiring Sarah Connor, an ordinary woman who goes on to do the most extraordinary things.

Have a listen and let me know what you think.

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