We’re on the eve of Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference. That means there’s going to be a lot to chew on over the next few days in terms of software, APIs, and anything that runs under the hood in Google’s increasingly diverse portfolio of products and services. One of the most striking developments since last year’s conference, however, has very little to do with software: it’s Google’s devotion to exotic companies and hardware initiatives, which are usually connected to its highly secretive Google X skunkworks. Mountain View has made huge plays in robotics, artificial intelligence, balloon-based internet networks, and the connected home — and that’s just over the past 12 months.

Watching the pieces fall into place, it’s hard to not see a certain pattern emerge. One that matches a familiar sci-fi world that filmmaker James Cameron first envisioned 30 years ago. One in which AI, robotics, and autonomous vehicles all unite in a winner-takes-all battle against humanity itself. And while that battle will be fought in the future, the war will be won here, in our present.