Monday, January 25, 2016

Useless Clatter...The Hal 9000: Technology That Talks

(Originally posted for
Depictions of the future serve as one of the most alluring aspects of science fiction. Even better is when these cinematic futures become the past. Audiences may relish in the opportunity to nitpick the accuracy of these fictitious creations in the aided benefit of hindsight. (Sorry Back to the Future II, there were no hoover boards yet in 2015. We were still trying to figure out the Segway.)

Unfortunately, 2001: A Space Odyssey does not lend many imaginative depictions of 21st century Earth. Despite a few bone-wielding apes on our prehistoric planet, Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, as its title suggests, takes place mainly on board spaceships trekking through a limitless and (relatively) unchanging galaxy. But onboard any spaceship, technology is aplenty, often times in excess in sci-fi. Arguably the film’s most intriguing character is no man or ape, but a talking computer- the HAL 9000- stoic and physically lifeless. A novel idea in 1968, but almost 50 years later, HAL would simply join the likes of Siri, Watson and our unnamed Google Maps chauffeur on the ever increasing list of “talking computers.” Thankfully, our reliable trio have yet to cause the mayhem of HAL.