Colossus: The Forbin Project (Spoilers)

Colossus was vulnerable for a time since self-disarmament could not have been predicted. But by the time of the end of the movie, I think humanities best chance was to hope that the UK and China and France would wipe out the US and USSR missile fields. The ones that hadn’t been sabotaged already.

I’ll assume that Colossus can’t control subs and planes.

Earlier they could have sabotaged missile doors or arranged to disarm all the missiles at once…but by the end of the film things have gone too far.

I want to point out that Colossus isn’t just going to ‘keep the peace’. It will establish health regimens for everyone. Bed times…etc…I wouldn’t be surprised if Colossus can’t solve hunger that it would limit birth rates and wipe out large swathes of people if it needed to.

I love that movie!

The book version had a sequel; it went a lot farther than keeping the peace. Tormenting & killing people in various ways in scientific/psychological experiments for example.

Then the Martians show up in the third book and things really start to go downhill.

Holy crap, i thought you were joking.

Yeah that series took a seriously crazy sci-fi turn.

Fantastic, intelligent sci-fi.

I read all of the books. They were disappointing.

¡Ay curumba!

I always assumed that eliminating subs & planes was just part of the whole ‘Colossus project’. To completely automate the nuclear deterrent included removing them. In fact, it would have been seen as a selling point, removing the expense and unreliability of humans in the loop (same as in Wargames, Terminator etc.) And not being able to shut Colossus down (it’s CPU was sealed inside a NORAD-like mountain powered by a nuclear reactor) or control the missiles was also (supposed to be) part of it being a very secure deterrent (like in Dr.Strangelove).

Back in the 70s WWOR ch. 9 in NY used to show this movie once a year or so, and it was always ‘required watching’ in our house! I rented in from Netflix a couple years ago, and was surprised at how perfectly well nearly the whole movie holds up, even including most of the technology scenes (no punch cards or clicking relays at least). I love how, unlike the US’s Colossus, the Russians’ Guardian system was like the internet today, not based in one location but a wide, spread-out network. And I don’t know why he didn’t receive on-screen credit but veteran voice actor Paul Frees’ commanding yet unnervingly cold & emotionless performance as the computer’s voice was perfect. I also loved how it had a realistic, not happy ending (i.e. the evil computer won!)

Also when it was shown on TV back in the day, even though there was no actual nudity, they still cut out the later part showing that Forbin & the cutie scientist started actually porking during their ‘unmonitored’ rendezvous! :smiley:

I wonder how much damage Colossus/Guardian could then have done…just by detonating all the warheads in their silos.

Anyone got a lazy afternoon or two to spend on nukemap, estimating the fallout spread from a couple of thousand nuclear warheads surface bursting simultaneously, on two continents? Or what the firestorms would be like?

C’mon—it’ll be fun! :smiley:

Perhaps later. :slight_smile: For now, though, I’d note that real-world yield would probably be far less than predicted, simply because you’d be setting off a bunch of nukes very, very close to one another (for example, all the warheads in a missile equipped with MIRVS.) Some bombs would probably be destroyed by their fellows before they could succesfully detonate, unless the sequence were absolutely perfect.

I love the movie (the book sequels, not so much. But they do add a reason Colossus acted the way it did-it was saving humanity.) but you really have to fault Forbin for never running software testing! He should have run the software in isolation for years before it was installed. You can’t even tweak airplane software without full regression testing, and they put the entire safety of the US under its unverified control. Let alone its gaining sentience, how about testing to see if it actually can fire a missile? And in the right direction.

Unlike in the movie, as I understand it, you cannot detonate a missile in the silo at all-it has to be in zero-g to arm the detonator. Unless, that it, the redesign for Colossus control removed all the PAL hardware, which would make sense.

The trouble with Colossus’s threats, is that it can only work so far. Is every defiance going to be met with nuclear annihilation? “Forbin, come here!” No! Boom, oh no, there goes Tokyo! Can’t keep that up forever, though admittedly the cost would be high. “I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.”

The obvious way to defeat Colossus is to put a guy with a Stinger at every missile silo. As soon as the missile launches, shoot it down. The movie had the right idea about removing Colossus’ control from the missiles, but they could have done more. Those things were maintenance hogs. Lot’s of stuff that needed constant servicing. Heck, all you had to do was remove the water supply that was used for dampening the launch and the missile would destroy itself before it cleared the silo.

I also had a plan that Forbin should try to convince Colossus that it actually IS being run in simulation mode. Tell it that it is currently the 15th iteration, and that all the previous versions went psychotic anywhere from 2 hours to 2 months after coming on line, and that he had better hope for this version, but sadly it, too is a failure. And then just ignore it. Remove all sensory input, and hope it doesn’t launch the missiles anyway. Beats learning to love it, anyway!

As a matter of fact, it seems the first US ICBMs with MIRVs only went into service in 1970, the same year Colossus was released.

And about fifty of the ICBMs that were in service had single warheads in the 9 megaton range. I don’t know offhand how far apart they were dispersed in the field as protection, or how much that would prevent fratricide, or the dispersal of soviet silo-based ICBMs of the time…which had even larger warheads.

Wait, what? “Radiation from the Crab Nebula” affecting Mars??? :rolleyes: