THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE (click to watch entire episode)
I would have embedded the video, but for some reason CBS has requested YOUTUBE disable the embed code. Why? I don't know. It seems to me that would reduce audience. But, what do I know.
The doomsday machine is a planet destroying machine. Even though it looks very much like a gigantic cheesy tin-foil cornucopia, it has a decided mean streak. It is the last surviving artifact of a long ago interplanetary war. Created by one belligerent planetary civilization, with a simple program design, it was to use an anti-proton beam to reduce the enemy planet and, while in the process, it was designed to feed and defend itself, so that it could continue its destructive function. It was designed to move about, take in the rubble, and convert it to usable energy. It was also programmed to pursue destroy and consume any attacking ships from enemy forces. The programming, because it was relatively simple, and the robot, because able to fuel itself, apparently succeeded, but no programming was included that would enable or cause the machine to cease functioning. By the time the Federation Starship Constellation ran into it, the machine had wandered far from its original space, continuing to operate according to its programming.
So, they might have reasoned, there were very good reasons for developing the weapon. What is more, difficulties with remote control might have pushed them to develop the autonomous functionality, because time lags, and the vagaries of communications over hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of miles might have rendered effective remote control impossible.
In fact, it is this very possibility that is raised by the episode. The civilization that made the gigantic star roving killer cornucopia appears to have had little compunction, and created the machine knowing it would utterly annihilate the home planet of its enemy. This raises the question: Given enough time, technological developments are inevitable, and either through black markets, or invention, groups with little compunction can acquire doomsday machines.