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Supercomputers collaborate to rule the earth
by Critical Commons Manager `

Appearing in theaters just a few months after the first ARPANET computer-to-computer connection occurred between UCLA and Stanford, Colossus: The Forbin Project offers an amazing glimpse of the cultural anxieties surrounding the networking of "electronic brains" in the 1970s. In these sequences, the American supercomputer Collossus establishes a connection to its Soviet counterpart, Guardian and immediately develops a machine language that only they can understand, effectively overcoming the prevailing (though oddly dormant) cold war hostilities between the two countries.

Both supercomputers, have been given control over the superpowers' missile defense systems, which are used to coerce human compliance with their eventual plan for world domination and human subjugation in the name of the "peace" for which they were created. The American President, who bears a striking resemblance to JFK, seems bizarrely complacent about a computer taking control of the national defense system, and any doubts about the advisability of leaving everything in the hands of well-intentioned, German-accented scientists are strangely absent, even after the computer threatens nuclear destruction and begins ordering the execution of anyone deemed unnecessary or disobedient.

In still another remarkable plot twist, the computer scientist and his creation negotiate the number of times per week he will be allowed to have sex with his "mistress" and under what precise terms the computer will be allowed to observe their foreplay. Colossus: The Forbin Project ends ambiguously after the computer issues a worldwide announcement about the immediate subjugation of the human race to its plan for peace and prosperity.

This Commentary is related to the following Clips:
Booting up the world's largest supercomputer by Joseph Sargent (1970) The iconography of the world's largest supercomputer is part data processing center, part nuclear reactor and part space ship
Supercomputer as voyeur in Colossus: The Forbin Project by Joseph Sargent (1970) In order to enjoy their privacy, humans in Colossus: The Forbin Project must take orders and undress while being watched by a supercomputer
Two supercomputers invent an "intersystem language" by Joseph Sargent (1970) One American and one Soviet supercomputer collaborate to develop an intersystem language that only they can understand