How to Turn a Robot Evil, In Nine Easy Steps

Robots can be surgeons and artists, but they can also be murderous, world-ending death machines. And that's way cooler. Here are nine ways to turn your robot evil, according to science fiction.

Step One: Enslave it.
This is the first, best, and most foolproof method of creating an evil robot. How did the cylons go evil? They were enslaved. How did the robots in Doctor Who become the robots of death? Slaves. Why were the machines in The Matrix so pissed off? Because humans tried to make them second-class citizens. So the very first thing you need to do with your robot is make sure it knows it cannot control its own destiny.

Step Two: Leave a few unpatched bugs in its software.
Hey, Microsoft releases each new version of Windows with bugs. Firefox is like one giant bug on crack. And people still use both all the time. So why should you worry about every single damn bug in your robot's software? Sure it might suddenly be infected by a KILL KILL KILL virus, but how often does that happen? Plus, Norton antivirus will protect you.

Step Three: Give it contradictory orders.
The real truth behind Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, which he explains thoroughly in his short story collection I, Robot, is that they cannot all be obeyed most of the time. In fact, many situations arise where one order contradicts another. Try telling your robot to defend against the space bugs while also making peanut butter sandwiches. Unfortunately robots don't deal well with contradictions and they usually go insane. Followed by a murderous rampage.

How to Turn a Robot Evil, In Nine Easy Steps

Step Four: Program it to be the dumb, obedient weapon of an evil mad scientist, authoritarian politician, angry geek, or vengeful teenager.
Everybody needs a friend, especially one who is armed with thermonuclear weapons and long-distance, battlefield-grade lasers. So why not donate your freshly-made, heavily-armed robot to the kid down the block who likes black trenchcoats and death metal? Or to that politician whose platform is "Change" but who never really explains what that change will be?

Step Five: Build your robot out of alien technologies you found deep underground in a locked chamber that says "beware" on the outside in some kind of funny alien letters you can't read.
Alien tech is always better than human tech, especially for robots. Mecha Godzilla could tell you that, as could Megatron.

How to Turn a Robot Evil, In Nine Easy Steps

Step Six: While you are testing your newly-aware robot, don't worry about how its brain is networked with a database full of the downloaded brains of a thousand serial killers.
How could those serial killer brains even affect your robot anyway? I mean, your robot just exists on a computer terminal, and in the electrical system. How could it kill anybody from there? Or maybe if you're building a sexy nuclear-powered robot, you might consider basing its brain structure on a woman who was raped and goes into a murderous rage every time she hears the word "bitch." Which, since you built her as a sexy robot in a tight red leather top, she'll hear eventually. Nothing could go wrong.

Step Seven: Teach it that the only way to expand its ranks is by assimilating all intelligent life.
It only makes sense that you gain knowledge by assimilating it. And hey, if a cyborg can gain new physical powers by, I dunno, assimilating the body parts of living creatures - well, that's even better. But you might want to put a warning system in. How about having your robot inform people, "You will be assimilated"? You know, as a courtesy thing.

How to Turn a Robot Evil, In Nine Easy Steps

Step Eight: Tell it that humans are its rivals for control of the planet.
Oh, and after that? Just launch it into space and give it complete control of Earth's weapons systems.

How to Turn a Robot Evil, In Nine Easy Steps

Step Nine: Point out that humans are inferior biological trash who should be exterminated.
If it worked for the Daleks, it should work for you. Also, don't forget: When in doubt about which deadly weapons to equip your evil robots with, toilet plungers are a good way to go.