Is This a Google Easter Egg or Proof That Skynet Is Actually Plotting World Domination?

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 3 2014 12:10 PM

Is This a Google Easter Egg or Proof That Skynet Is Actually Plotting World Domination?

killer
<3

Screencap from Google.

It's great to be successful, but sometimes being as huge as Google can make a company lose its sense of humor. Google seems determined not to let that happen, though, and if Terminator references are what it takes, we just have to roll with that.

Hacker News user yueq discovered this killer-robots.txt Easter egg, and I don't think it's hyperbole to say that it’s the best thing ever. Basically, a robots.txt is a website file that gives instructions to automated Web crawlers. This one is saying that neither T-800 (the killer android Terminator played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first Terminator movie) or T-1000 (the killer terminator in the second movie) should kill company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in a Skynet takeover of Google. But it doesn't say anything about you!

Advertisement

In the ensuing thread, Hacker News commenters point out that the Easter egg may also be a nod to critics who compare Google to Skynet, or accuse the company of developing killer robots because of its acquisition of robotics company Boston Dynamics. They also note other Easter egg robot.txt files from Webfusion and Appcelerator.

Google has other .txt Easter eggs, too, like humans.txt, but it doesn't quite achieve the subtle resonance of killer robots. Well played, Google.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Culturebox

The Simpsons World App Is Finally Here

I feel like a kid in some kind of store.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The Difference Between Being a Hero and an Altruist

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
Outward
Oct. 22 2014 10:37 AM Judge Upholds Puerto Rico’s Gay Marriage Ban in a Comically Inane Opinion
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 10:00 AM On the Internet, Men Are Called Names. Women Are Stalked and Sexually Harassed.
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 9:54 AM The Simpsons World App Is Finally Here I feel like a kid in some kind of store.
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 22 2014 10:29 AM Apple TV Could Still Work Here’s how Apple can fix its living-room product.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 22 2014 10:30 AM Monster Sunspot Will Make Thursday’s Eclipse That Much Cooler
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.