Believe it or not, the U.S. government actually spent about $1 billion in the 1980s trying to build a program like Skynet from the Terminator movies. DARPA — an agency that's sometimes called the "mad science" research arm of the Defense Department — worked on developing driverless vehicles, a pilot's assistant like R2-D2, and advanced artificial intelligence to tie it all together.
You can read more about DARPA's Strategic Computing Initiative and its similarities to Skynet at Paleofuture.
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