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According to the writers of Doctor Who in the 1960s and early 70s, our future would be dominated by power-mad computers intent on subjugating the human race…
Yartek (Stephen Dartnell), leader of the alien Voord, believes he has control of the Conscience machine in the final episode of The Keys of Marinus (1964).

When the end came, it came suddenly. One year, there wasn’t a spring. Then the ice-caps began to advance… and so the ‘second ice age’ Earth of The Ice Warriors (1967) came into being. The reason, we’re told, was a sudden lack of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, after the number of growing plants on the planet had been reduced to an absolute minimum. “On the land that was once used to grow the food we needed,” Leader Clent explains to the Second Doctor, “we built up-to-date living units to house the ever-increasing population.”

So which idiot came up with a plan to concrete-over the globe, seemingly unaware of the catastrophic consequences? According to Clent, it all happened under the super-efficient direction of the great World Computer…

The Ice Warriors was far from unique in depicting a future world managed, or mismanaged, by a single artificial intelligence. In The Keys of Marinus (1964), the First Doctor landed on a planet whose inhabitants had manufactured a device known as the Conscience – a machine that became so sophisticated it could affect the minds of men the world over: “They no longer had to decide what was wrong or right. The machine decided for them.” Eventually, after a long struggle to prevent the ruthless Voord from obtaining the five microcircuits essential to its function, the Doctor saw the Conscience destroyed. But he was far from unhappy about it, telling his companions: “I don’t believe that man was made to be controlled by machines…”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Doctor Who’s predictions of the future have depicted the destruction of planet Earth and the ultimate collapse of the universe. Alien superpowers have subjugated star systems and galactic empires have fallen, leaving only a few witnesses to the end of time itself. This lavish publication sets the TARDIS co-ordinates for a journey into this dangerous realm, exploring landmark episodes and meeting the talents who brought them to the screen. Packed full of exclusive features, including a wealth of previously unseen images, this is the essential guide to the series’ greatest futuristic adventures.