HAL 9000: Too human??
The HAL 9000 supercomputer is said to be the highest point of artificial intelligence. It has an amazing, error-free performance record, and is able to communicate and interact like a human. It can also imitate human emotions. The trouble started when HAL or “Hal” talked with Dave (one of the Discovery One spaceship pilots) about the unusual secrecy surrounding their mission to Jupiter. Dave thought this was just part of HAL’s “crew psychological profile”. HAL did not take this kindly, and for some bizarre reason, reported a defect in the communication system of the ship. So Dave goes out (to space) and replaces the defective unit.
However, on inspection, Dave sees no defect in the unit, and scientists in Earth said HAL is just “in error in predicting the fault”. Frank (another space pilot) must then install back the unit and everybody will wait for it to fail. After all, the HAL series has never been wrong! But Dave and Frank question his reliability and agreed in secret to disconnect him if the “defective” unit will not fail. Unfortunately for them, HAL is able to read lips and knew of their plan to “kill” him.
When Frank goes to space to re-install the unit, HAL kills him by throwing an empty pod towards him. Dave tried to rescue Frank and while doing that, HAL goes berserk and kills the hibernating scientists inside the spaceship. When Dave returned, HAL refused him entry and revealed that he knew of their plan to disconnect him. HAL says the mission is too important for Dave and the now-killed other humans to risk.
Dave eventually was able to gain entry and disconnected HAL’s higher brain functions. It was heart-wrenching for me to hear the “machine” pleading for his “life”, asking Dave to spare him. By this time, HAL has become human to me. A machine, even with artificial intelligence, will not plead or beg! It will not kill others in the name of self-preservation (though HAL says it’s for the mission). HAL is definitely the pinnacle of AI – a machine so perfect in imitating a human that it became too human for its own good.