Too bad we can't predict the future. It would save a hell of a lot of trouble.
Personally, I think if Skynet ever becomes self-aware it won't attempt to do us in. It'd be more like Jack Williamson's story, With Folded Hands, in which robots only purpose is to "serve and obey and guard men from harm." They ultimately replace people in nearly all jobs and drive people insane because they won't let people do anything because it might be harmful to them.
Remember Cooper's Law: "All machines are amplifiers." Machines amplify our natural abilities.
There are also fictional machines that can create or build other machines; I've heard them called Universal or General Assembly Machines. These days, 3-D printing is getting close, although there is also nano-technology.
Anyone with an IQ of less than 100 is screwed right now. Soon those with IQs of well over 100 might be screwed, too. So what are we going to do then?
Imagine if it were possible for machines to replace all of our jobs. We'd end up perfectly safe and perfectly bored.
This is why Williamson wrote With Folded Hands in 1947.
I wrote "With Folded Hands" immediately after World War II, when the shadow of the atomic bomb had just fallen over SF and was just beginning to haunt the imaginations of people in the U.S. The story grows out of that general feeling that some of the technological creations we had developed with the best intentions might have disastrous consequences in the long run (that idea, of course, still seems relevant today). The notion I was consciously working on specifically came out of a fragment of a story I had worked on for a while about an astronaut in space who is accompanied by a robot obviously superior to him physically—i.e., the robot wasn't hurt by gravity, extremes of temperature, radiation, or whatever. Just looking at the fragment gave me the sense of how inferior humanity is in many ways to mechanical creations. That basic recognition was the essence of the story, and as I wrote it up in my notes the theme was that the perfect machine would prove to be perfectly destructive... It was only when I looked back at the story much later on that I was able to realize that the emotional reach of the story undoubtedly derived from my own early childhood, when people were attempting to protect me from all those hazardous things a kid is going to encounter in the isolated frontier setting I grew up in. As a result, I felt frustrated and over protected by people whom I couldn't hate because I loved them. A sort of psychological trap. Specifically, the first three years of my life were spent on a ranch at the top of the Sierra Madre Mountains on the headwaters of the Yaqui River in Sonora, Mexico. There were no neighbors close, and my mother was afraid of all sorts of things: that I might be kidnapped or get lost, that I would be bitten by a scorpion and die (something she'd heard of happening to Mexican kids), or that I might be caught by a mountain lion or a bear. The house we were living in was primitive, with no door, only curtains, and when she'd see bulls fighting outside, she couldn't see why invaders wouldn't just charge into the house. She was terrified by this environment. My father built a crib that became a psychological prison for me, particularly because my mother apparently kept me in it too long, when I needed to get out and crawl on the floor. I understand my mother's good intentions—the floor was mud and there were scorpions crawling around, so she was afraid of what might happen to me—but this experience produced in me a deep seated distrust of benevolent protection. In retrospect, I'm certain I projected my fears and suspicions of this kind of conditioning, and these projections became the governing emotional principle of "With Folded Hands" and The Humanoids.
I've written before the purpose of initiation rites is to remove young boys from the world of women and introduce them to the world of men. We don't have them anymore, to our great detriment.
And what are we going when Love and Work (as Freud put it) goes away? If machines take over our work, we aren't going to end up with love. We're going to sink straight to the bottom with sex, drugs and rock 'n' rock, which is happening now.
One of the many interesting things about the story of the Garden of Eden is that it illustrates Adam and Even at first don't have any self-consciousness and don't have to work.
Because they're babies.
The only way we can survive in a world in which machines do all work is if we return to unconsciousness - which, of course, is what sex, drugs and rock 'b' rock is all about.
If machines take over everything we are well and truly fucked.