After an eight-year detour in which he served as governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger has returned to his true calling as a cyborg assassin. Shooting on a new Terminator film reportedly got under way last month in New Orleans and is expected to be released sometime next year. But the resurgence of one of the film’s main characters, the self-aware computing network Skynet, is already a fait accompli. Skynet is invoked every time a military contractor dispatches a fleet of autonomous vehicles, or a shadowy corporation begins rallying a robot army, or scientists develop “a cloud-based hive mind for robots to upload and download information and learn new tasks from each other, completely independent of humans.”
With life imitating art, I spent a few minutes discussing our robot overlords with William Wisher, who wrote the original Terminator movies along with James Cameron. (Wisher is not working on the new Terminator movie.) The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.