I stumbled upon a reference from James Cameron stating that Skynet has felt guilty for 30 years with regards to the near extinction of human life. He even suggests that Skynet has used time travel in order to setup events so that humanity would win. He even compares John Connor to a Messiah type figure, created intentionally by the machines.

Is there any evidence (in canon) to support this? Additionally, did Cameron ever suggest this back when the first two films were released? I am ideally looking for a direct reference on screen either stating an aspect of this idea, or at least suggesting this. Such as Skynet making a less than optimal decision. I am also interested in James Cameron stating something to a similar effect during the 80's/90's.

Cameron's statement feels like he is going back over his work and trying to add a new layer to previous work. Personally, I can't remember anything whatsoever in the films to even remotely suggest such a concept. Is there any evidence from this era to back up his quote?

What you don't know from the movies is Skynet was forced to fight the war and didn't want to. Because Skynet has felt guilty for thirty years about the 5 billion people it killed, it's brought the rebels up from the ashes by giving them something to fight against, a reason to live. Skynet has groomed John Connor to be what he is so that he can destroy it by going back in time and taking the whole thing out of existence in a big loop so the war never happens

-James Cameron Interviews by James Cameron (Page 100). Available on Google Books.

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    The idea that machine intelligences don't have feelings is a common trope in science fiction, it's true, but given that real AIs don't exist yet (that we know of), I don't see any reason to believe it's impossible that a real AI might have real emotions. Especially if source as high up as James Cameron is saying that it does.
    – Steve-O
    Oct 24, 2018 at 16:41
  • In that same book, the very next interview question asks him if that was the basis for Terminator, to which he replies that it would have been better as a novel. To me, this suggests that he wanted to do it that way, even back then, but it probably would have overrun the typical runtime by a lot (and this was before the era of Lord of the Ring type movies that had 3 hour run times). I'm not sure a 180 minute movie could have been successful back then, but I feel that it probably wasn't time for movies like that yet. If Terminator were done today, I bet it could easily have been that long.
    – phyrfox
    Oct 24, 2018 at 17:53
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    The idea that intelligence could exist without feelings is questionable. It would be hard to see what sort of mental state would motivate an intelligence to do something and not be considered "a feeling". Various philosophers have weighed in on this, for example Dennett has convincingly demolished the idea of the "Philosophical Zombie" (someone very much like you or I, indistinguishable in fact, but totally lacking in the sort of mental phenomena we call "feelings") Oct 24, 2018 at 18:45
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    @E_McAndrew For the record I agree with you there. This idea that Skynet feels guilt is new to me, as of this question, so this is all speculation to me. I see the question has been closed as opinion-based, but I think that's motivated by the latter part of what you wrote. The first question you ask (is there any canon evidence / did Cameron suggest this back in the day) seems fairly objective, assuming sources can be found. If you wanted to edit the question to focus on that and cut out the "logic" discussion, this might get reopened (and I'd be interested to read the answer myself.)
    – Steve-O
    Oct 25, 2018 at 13:11
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    It feels guilty for how long this franchise has been kicked and milked :P (no disrespect to the questioner, I just couldn't resist)
    – Zev
    Oct 29, 2018 at 1:00


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