Daily Archives: January 3, 2011


The death of HAL in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

On this date in 1977 Apple Computers was incorporated.

Frye in Notes 54.2:

I’ve been reading a book about computers, full of very muddled arguments about whether a machine can be said to think or have intelligence.  The difference between a mechanism and an organism is not one of intelligence but of will.  An automobile can run faster than a human being can, but in itself has no will to do so: it will sit rusting in a garage indefinitely without the slightest sign of impatience.  There’s no reason why man should not develop machines that can reproduce every activity of the human brain on a vastly higher level of speed and efficiency.  But nobody has yet come up with a computer that wanted to do these things on its own: as will, so far, every machine is an expression of the will of its makers.  In the Clarke-Kubrick movie 2001, the computer Hal suddenly develops an autonomous will, a power of using its intelligence for its own ends.  That makes Hal a nightmare, of course, but it also makes him a fellow-creature: he’s now a he and not an it, and the depiction of his gradual destruction had a genuine pathos.  (CW 6, 682)