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on November 3, 2009 at 11:20:26 pm

Heuristically programmed algorithmic computer or HAL is the iconic computer from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL's most recognizable feature is the red glowing eye stationed throughout the spaceship Odyssey. The name HAL has been rumored to be a link to IBM, as it is one letter ahead of the other letters, but both writer Arthur C. Clarke and writer/director Stanley Kubrick insist that the name came from a conciliation with MIT artificial intelligence guru Marvin Minsky who came up with the name Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer (1).



It or He?

There are many things that are certain about the HAL 9000 computer. HAL is placed on the Odyssey space craft to control all the inner workings of the ship. HAL knows of the secret mission for the space craft given by Dr. Floyd. HAL kills the other 4 members of the crew aside from to keep from being shut down. But one thing that is not sure is whether or no HAL is fully conscious being that should be referred to as he or if it is just a computer with a fantastic processor. I am all for saying that HAL, as he would put it, is infact a "conscious entity". I would not go so far as to say that HAL can feel all complex emotions but I put out that he can understand base emotions like fear or anger. HAL's actions to cull all the crew members was a conscious act but isn't a logical step for securing the objectives of the mission to Jupiter. The audience gets to see HAL's point of view,especially when HAL is killing the hibernating crew members, humanizing him even further. The tension over HAL's "humanity" is evident in the film when the BBC is interviewing the crew, when the interviewer talked about HAL as an it and he was corrected by Dr. Poole to refer to HAL as a him.



"The 9000 series is the most relayable Computer ever made"

There is also some controversy over whether or no HAL made an error in his computing or if he purposefully lied to the crew. The only issue with the later argument is that HAL had no cause to kill the crew at the time of the mistake, even if he was programed to keep the true intent of the Jupiter mission secret until the arrival, that doesn't warrant purposefully making the crew suspect you. I am in the camp that HAL made an error in his programing because of his deceit to Dr. Bowman. That error gives a greater sense of HAL's perceived humanity and innocence.


Works Cited

1. Pelton, Joseph N.  "2001: A Space Odyssey" The Futurist. 42.5 (2008), p 37. Print.

2. Davidson, Rjurick "science TECHNOLOGY and humanity visions of the future in 2001: a space odyssey." Screen Education. 54 (2009), p111-117. Print.

3."HAL 9000" wikipedia.com, 30 Oct. 2009. Web. 3 Nov. 2009.

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