The Terminator's new game plan

With our help, the machines are winning…

I have always loved cheesy action movies and way back in 1984 I heard The Terminator was a good one. I’d also heard Arnold Schwarzenegger had at last found the role he was born to play – a robot.

So one night after work I walked to a downtown movie theater and stood in line to buy a ticket.

Back then you could run into some very sketchy characters in downtown Kansas City at night because the Millennials had yet to move back into cities so they could live in lofts, compare fedoras and discuss the “notes” they detected in whatever craft beer they were drinking.

I’m pretty happy if my beer has “notes” of alcohol, but that’s a different piece which I’ll probably write someday soon.

BTW: I don’t mind one bit if Millennials make fun of Boomers ‘cuz I find a bunch of what they do hilarious and worth ridiculing and I’d be disappointed in their generation if they didn’t do the same for mine. Face it, Boomers do some ridiculous stuff as well – knee high socks and short shorts come to mind – and it’s healthy for everybody to get called on their bullshit.

So where were we?

Right, it’s 1984 and I’m standing in line for a ticket and this dude behind me asks if I’d already seen The Terminator and when I said no, he said: “I saw it and it freaked me the fuck out!”

He then repeated that seeing The Terminator had “freaked him the fuck out” another half-dozen times before we bought our tickets. In our short acquaintance I had determined that this guy was on something or needed to be.

I entered the darkened theater before the freaked-out guy and decided to lean against the back wall until I saw him take a seat because if I sat down first my new pal might spot me and sit next to me and freak the fuck out and I was fairly certain I didn’t want to share that experience.  

If that seems like a dick move, you’re right.

Maybe the guy just needed a friend — don’t we all — but the movie freaked him out and his response was to go see it again, so I was thinking that wasn’t a real good sign of someone who’s got all the lights working on his Christmas tree.

This movie theater was built back when they built ‘em big and if you needed a place to store the Goodyear blimp between football games you could have squeezed it inside and had space leftover. The 101st Airborne could have shown up for the 6:30 show and had seats leftover; the movie screen had to be 30 feet tall.  

Even though there were plenty of empty seats, Mr. Freak Out walked all the way down to the front of the theater, took a seat in the first row and laid back almost horizontally so he could stare up at the screen which loomed above him like a neon god.

No wonder The Terminator freaked him out; from that position viewing Mary Poppins would be blow your mind.  

Julie Andrews’ nostrils would be big as manhole covers and look like black holes into oblivion and when Dick Van Dyke started dancing with animated penguins you’d probably think you were on a bad acid trip.

Back in 1984 I thought that guy was Looney Tunes; 35 years later I think he had a point.

I go see the latest Terminator sequel

Just in case you somehow missed this information – and a medically-induced coma seems like the only realistic possibility – The Terminator plot line goes like this:

Machines take over the world and the human resistance is led by John Connor so the head machines send a robot – our pal Arnold – back in time to kill John’s mom Sarah before she can give birth to that major-pain-in-the-machines’-ass, John.  

I was reminded of all this when I went to see the latest sequel, Terminator: Dark Fate and there was no one in the ticket booth to sell me a ticket. Having no ticket and no way to get one, I explained my situation to the guy taking the non-existent tickets and the clearly pissed off young man said: “That’s because we don’t have enough employees to run the theater.”

I had to go to guest services to buy a ticket and was informed that I could have bought my ticket online and avoided all this trouble, which started my mind spinning.

The machines have wised up  

One of the running themes of the Terminator franchise is the machines figuring out what they did in wrong in the last movie and coming back in time again to give it another go.

So what if the machines of the future finally figured out that sending a single robot back in time to kill just one person hasn’t worked out all that well for them and some really smart young machine – probably a Millennial – said: “Hey, this time why don’t we get the humans to do our dirty work for us?”

If getting rid of humans is the machines’ goal, they have to like how things are going.

Call a business and odds are a human will not answer the phone. Autoworkers have lost jobs to robots; so have switchboard operators, bowling alley pin setters, elevator operators, bridge toll collectors, film projectionists – the list goes on and on.

If you’ve ever wondered why a dumb idea like creating driverless cars seems like such a priority, think about this: there’s something like 8 million people employed by the trucking industry and if they can figure out how to get a semi-load of lawn chairs from Denver, Colorado to Miami, Florida without a driver they can fire all those people and machines will have those jobs as well.

According to CNBC story from January of this year, 25 percent of all jobs in the U.S. are at “high risk” of being automated.

According to the Forbes Technology Council – which sounds like a made up thing, but unfortunately isn’t – there are 13 types of jobs that will be automated by 2030 because AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) are advancing at such a rapid rate.

Holy shit, this time the machines are winning and their plan appears to have three steps:

Step 1: Take our jobs

Every time you buy movie tickets online, use the self-checkout lane at the grocery store or fill your own gas tank you’re helping the machines make yet another human job obsolete.

Step 2: Make us fat

What happens when you lose your job? You get depressed and eat and what do you eat; steamed cauliflower? Nope, you eat fast food and a diet of fast food will make us fat. You think it’s just coincidence that Popeye’s suddenly comes up with a chicken sandwich so delicious conscientious objectors are staging steel cage death matches to get one?

Step 3: Send Arnold back in time to kill our fat asses

The first Terminator movie featured a lot of running and this time around we could only manage a waddle and if we were confronted by a set of stairs we’d probably be so out of breath we’d just give up and wait patiently for Arnold to stroll over and pull our hearts out of our chests.

In 1984 the idea of a single remorseless killing machine was scary; in 2019 the machines are all around us and with our help, seem to be winning the battle.

I’m freaked the fuck out.