Click to viewWALL*E, Pixar’s tale of a future Earth destroyed by corporate greed, seems prescient now in a world of bank bailouts, undulating stock markets, and a global credit crisis. The end of the world could come from an alien invasion or a natural disaster, but it could also come from the companies we interact with every day. Could we be funding our future apocalypse? We list the science fiction companies that have taken down planets or decimated humanity, all for a quick buck.Buy n Large (WALL*E) What they do: Megacorp Buy n Large provides every economic service on Earth and serves as the planet’s government. Buy n Large ensures that mankind’s every physical and material whim is met, and when Earth gets a little messy, it sends humanity on 700-year vacation in space. How they destroy the world: Recycling and resource preservation were never high on the Buy n Large agenda. Soon, the Earth is dirty, depleted, and no longer fit for human life. And, though it preserves some semblance of humanity in space, its hypercapitalist culture leaves those folks physically and culturally bankrupt, unable (literally) to stand on their own two feet.
Cyberdyne Systems (Terminator) What they do: Cyberdyne manufactures high-tech equipment or equipment parts until a T-800 comes into its possession. After reverse engineering some of the Terminator’s futuristic technology, Cyberdyne becomes a defense contractor, working in advanced robotics and artifical intelligence. How they destroy the world: Cyberdyne’s work eventually leads to the creation of Skynet, a military supercomputer that becomes self-aware and declares war on humanity.
Weyland-Yutani (Aliens) What they do: Weyland-Yutani is a space exploration corporation that provides research and services for space colonization and space exploration. How they destroy the world: Weyland-Yutani develops an unhealthy interest in the alien xenomorphs, which they believe they can exploit as a biological weapon. They even bring a sample to Earth, because what could possibly go wrong there? Well, a group of xenomorph-loving cultists could (and do) free the lab rat, and soon the planet is overrun with aliens, forcing the humans to flee or end up surrogates for alien babies.
Rossum’s Universal Robots (R.U.R.) What they do: Rossum’s Universal Robots creates artificial people – biological robots that can perform labor for humans. How they destroy the world: Rossum’s Robots are designed for labor, but are free-thinking. Eventually the robots rebel, killing all humans save one, who is given the task of figuring out how to build new robots. Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil) What they do: True to its name, Umbrella provides a range of goods and services, including pharmaceuticals, medical hardware, cosmetics, consumer products, foodstuff, computers, genetic engineering, and biological weaponry. How they destroy the world: Umbrella’s biodefense work led to the discovery and creation of numerous viruses. These viruses escape into the general populace of Raccoon City, making it ground zero for a zombie outbreak.
The Company (Heroes) What they do: The Company “bags and tags” individuals with special abilities, tracking them and occasionally imprisoning and studying them. It also maintains various fronts that do more mundane things, like maintain casinos and sell paper. How they destroy the world: The Company’s research led to the discovery of the Shanti virus, which Victoria Pratt made into a biological weapon. In one of Heroes’ many alternate futures, the Shanti virus gets out, killing over 93 percent of the human population.
Graystone Industries (Caprica) What they do: Graystone Industries is a research and development company that works on a variety of high-tech products, including robot supersoldiers and meta-cognitive processing. How they destroy the world: In an attempt to bring his troubled daughter back from the dead, founder Daniel Graystone downloads her digitized consciousness into an artificial body, creating the world’s first Cylon. Decades later, the supersoldier Cylons and their skin-job siblings stage a nuclear attack on the 12 Colonies, nearly wiping out the entire human race. InfiniDim Enterprises (Mostly Harmless) What they do: Infinidim is a publishing company run by the Vogons (who destroyed the Earth in the earlier volume, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). They have bought the rights to the intergalactic guidebook The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. How they destroy the world: InfiniDim publishes a new version of the Guide, which manipulates several of the book’s characters and ensures the destruction of Earth in every possible dimension.
Mom’s Friendly Robot Company (Futurama) What they do: The Momglomerate builds and repairs robots, develops weapons, delivers packages, and provides the dark matter necessary for keeping your spaceships running. How they destroy the world: Mom comes close to destroying the Earth on a few occasions. First she programs her robots to rebel against Earth’s meat-based life forms. Then we learn that she marketed pollutant-spewing robots knowing that they would drastically increase global warming. But in Bender’s Game we finally see Mom take out an entire planetoid, mining Vergon 6 for dark matter until the planet implodes.