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In the movies previous to Terminator: Dark Fate, the AI of the future was Skynet, which was (via a causal time loop) bootstrapped from the remains of the original Terminator.

But in Dark Fate, Skynet never appeared in the future and instead Legion apparently took its place.

But how did Legion come about? Terminator 2: Judgement Day seemed to put to rest the idea of bootstrapping an AI from the future. Or was there other Terminator parts not destroyed in Judgement Day?

Or (as a comment from this question)

Genisys strongly implies the existence of multiple timelines

So that anything is possible in the multiverse?

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    The Terminator series is a Roko’s Basilisk meta-trap for Hollywood. Either a good Terminator film could be made, or crappy ones will be made; Hollywood producers then are playing game theory with the inevitability of the next film to be made: do they give in and help make as many crappy Terminatir films as can quickly and cheaply be made or do they suffer and try to push those offf in the hopes that more care & quality can be put into the next Terminator project; regardless of what they do, a venture capital firm with more money than sense will force it to manifest & it will unleash its wrath. Jan 6, 2022 at 22:02
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    It's a chaos loop (in the math sense). See also youtu.be/P-ZEq5yg1ew Rick and Morty snake time travel. It can repeat over and over again with only small differences until something radically different happens. There could even be an original timeline where a John Conner wasn't the result of a paradox. So anything is possible though personally I'd just watch the happy alternate ending of T2 and stop. Jan 7, 2022 at 1:21
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (TV) indicates when the future is changed, anyone that's already come to the past doesn't blink out of existence, but there's only one future at any given time - it's not really "multiple timelines" in the traditional sense. I went into more detail on SciFi.SE here.
    – Izkata
    Jan 7, 2022 at 22:58
  • @SillybutTrue I don't see how that's a Roko's Basilisk, or really game theory, other than in a trivial sense of "making decisions". Jul 8, 2023 at 6:25

2 Answers 2

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According to James Cameron, there's just a "natural tendency of the universe" -- and "forcing factors" within human society itself -- driving us toward the development of an AI like Skynet or Legion.

JAMES CAMERON: Well, Legion is the next Skynet. And I think the conceit here is that there's a natural tendency of the universe toward a certain outcome. And that given all the forces at work in human society, and human technological development, and the, um, forcing factors driving us toward artificial intelligence. Which, all you have to do is talk to any of the expects on it right now. And everybody wants this, everybody wants an artificial intelligence equal to humans to help us, to make money, to improve our defense systems, and all that stuff, you know. And they're all driving toward it, you know. Vladimir Putin has said "The country that controls artificial super-intelligence will control the world", quote unquote. I don't like it when dictators start talking about controlling the world, uhh, you know, even if he's joking, which of course he wasn't. The point is, everybody's stampeding toward this thing, without any real sense of who's in charge, you know. Where are the brakes? Where's the oversight, or the ability for governments to control this process. Well, it's kind of a free enterprise thing, you know; you get enough money, you go develop a super-intelligence. Nobody's running the show, here. So we could very easily be in a situation where we just replace ourselves, with a machine smarter than we are. And by the way, that may not necessarily share our goals. So the thinking is, Skynet was a manifestation of these driving forces. Take Skynet out of the way, well, it's gonna happen again. Take Legion out of the way, it's gonna happen again. It's gonna keep happening, 'cause the universe is driving in that direction, relentlessly. So the question is: how do you resolve that conflict? That innate conflict? Either we're gonna win, but by doing so, we'll have to turn away from what we know, and our technology, and so on, and go back to some kind of dark age. The machines are going to win, in which case we're extinct; we don't have to worry about it. Or there's some other path. What's the other path?

James Cameron Interview - Terminator: Dark Fate

It likely ties into the sentiment expressed in Terminator 2, that it's in our nature to destroy ourselves.

JOHN: We're not gonna make it, are we? People, I mean.

T-800: It's in your nature to destroy yourselves.

JOHN: Yeah. Major drag, huh?

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

The future tech left in the Cyberdyne factory in the first film helped to accelerate the process, but eventually, we were bound to get there on our own, anyway. At least, that seems to be Cameron's thinking.

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    You have to wonder if this is a deeply held belief by Cameron of man’s true nature, or he’s just waxing poetic to sell his films. It’s like John McClane’s bad luck with terrorists — at some point, the characters of the Tetminator universe are going to look at ours and see there was no Judgement Day and long to break free of their Creators Jan 6, 2022 at 22:53
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Grace explains in Dark Fate how Legion came about:

Grace: Not who. What. And it wasn't some... Skynet thing. In the future that actually happened... it's called Legion.

Sarah: Legion.

Grace: An AI built for cyber warfare.

Sarah: Those assholes never learn.

Dani Ramos also explains in Dark Fate how Legion came about:

Legion didn’t exist until humans created it.

Legion came about because man created it; Sarah’s theory is one of nature vs. nurture: she is offering her in-universe commentary about seemingly how in the Terminator universe, it is a recurring tendency within man’s nature to create a malignant AI which will cause Judgement Day.

If it’s not Skynet, it’s Legion. If it’s not Legion, it will be something else — her point is that it is inevitable we will create it. What she doesn’t know is that it may also be because out-of-universe l, it is also inevitable there will eventually be another chapter to the Terminator series.

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