It seems at the end of Terminator 3, Skynet relies upon the connected computer network in order to have the intelligence that it has. This made it resistant to any single point of failure to destroy the network.

However, it seems it would make it very vulnerable to a thermo-nuclear war. So far as I know, most server farms (Cyber Centers) are located near major population centers.

It seems highly unlikely that there would be much of Skynet left after a major thermo-nuclear war, because most of the servers would be destroyed, and the links between them would also be destroyed.

Thus, it seems quite unlikely that there could be much left in the way of Skynet. And I'm not even beginning to touch on the subject of EMP, which as the Russians launched their nukes independent of Skynet, would likely have been detonated over the United States and allies, and possibly the world.

How did Skynet then manage to execute Judgment Day, while still retaining enough computers and network to survive?

  • Not an answer because pure conjecture; What if it launched only (or mostly) Neutron bombs, thereby killing biologic life but not infrastructure? (And the server farms were protected from the radiation ... because of reasons?)
    – bitmask
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 13:56
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    basically Skynet did chemo therapy for it's new body -- the earth's computer systems -- damaging some of it badly, but critically damaging the cancerous humanity in the process.
    – zipquincy
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 19:52
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    An even bigger problem would be power. Power stations would no longer function more than a few days (or even a few hours) without human maintenance. What would Skynet have to repair/maintain the power grid, when the only physical manipulators it had were military drones?
    – vsz
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 20:24
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    @vsz That is easy enough to explain. One of the military drones enters the power station, points a gun at the closest person still alive and states "Fix the problem or I kill you". Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 11:49
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    I'm going to call server farms "Cyber Centers" from now on
    – CamelBlues
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 22:51

2 Answers 2


Some points:

  • Short lengths of wire are unaffected by EMP so long as they are not part of a closed circuit. The car that is entirely shut down electrically should still work after an EMP.
  • Optical fiber and satellite based communications are immune to EMP, as are cables laid along the ocean floor.
  • Server farms are beginning to recognize the benefit of having not only back-up server farms, but back-ups in locations that are remote from the main servers and sometimes in relatively small urban centers.
  • Skynet was effectively software, so it could 'hide out' on any server in any location big enough for the code, or with parts of itself stored on different servers, with duplicate copies stored to check for errors (bits flipped when radiation hits the drive). I suspect that during the worst parts of the conflict, it backed up its major components to machines in ..Australia, India, Argentina, Chile.. Those countries might be allies of one of the major combatants, but they would probably get a lot less bombs hurled their way.
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    "Server farms are beginning to recognize the benefit of having not only back-up server farms, but back-ups in locations that are remote from the main servers and sometimes in relatively small urban centers." And I think it's reasonable to suggest that military server farms are probably protected as well. Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 16:26
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    Skynet might just as well have waited a couple of seconds with wiping out each continent sequentially, giving themselves probably enough time to transfer their data to servers that were rebooted just at the right time...
    – Zommuter
    Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 13:02
  • India would be a bad choice. They and Pakistan have nukes, and would LOVE to use them. A widespread nuclear exchange would be a perfect excuse/opportunity for doing so. They would annihilate each other in a heartbeat.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 22:41
  • @Zommuter - if I recall correctly, the T-800 in T2 said Skynet launched our nukes at Russia, not at every continent.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 22:44
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    Thanks Andrew, I am from India and hearing that less bombs will be hurled at us is bit comforting. lol Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 8:38

In addition, you have:

  • Military hardware that is EMP-shielded and/or emplaced to be safe from the blast (see the base John Connor is in).

  • Internet grew out of ARPANET which was designed as a DARPA project specifically aimed to ensure network resilience in the face of widescale destruction.

  • 4
    The US military definitely had EMP-hardened equipment and facilities, I've worked in some. I've heard about the ARPANET being designed to survive an attack, but I've also then heard that it was just an urban myth. Personally I love the idea and hope it's true!
    – Mark Allen
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 19:00
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    @MarkAllen: It's a myth; see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET#Misconceptions_of_design_goals Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 18:00
  • @MartinSchröder I figured as much. I still prefer the myth. :) Thanks for the link though!
    – Mark Allen
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 22:16

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