BLACK SUN AI – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

HAL 9000
(2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968)


HAL 9000 is a fictional artificial intelligence character and the main antagonist in Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey series. First appearing in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer) is a sentient artificial general intelligence computer that controls the systems of the Discovery One spacecraft and interacts with the ship’s astronaut crew. While part of HAL’s hardware is shown toward the end of the film, he is mostly depicted as a camera lens containing a red or yellow dot, instances of which are located throughout the ship. HAL 9000 is voiced by Douglas Rain in the two feature film adaptations of the Space Odyssey series. HAL speaks in a soft, calm voice and a conversational manner, in contrast to the crewmen, David Bowman and Frank Poole.

In the film, HAL became operational on 12 January 1992 at the HAL Laboratories in Urbana, Illinois as production number 3. The activation year was 1991 in earlier screenplays and changed to 1997 in Clarke’s novel written and released in conjunction with the movie. In addition to maintaining the Discovery One spacecraft systems during the interplanetary mission to Jupiter (or Saturn in the novel), HAL has been shown to be capable of speech, speech recognition, facial recognition, natural language processing, lip reading, art appreciation, interpreting emotional behaviours, automated reasoning, spacecraft piloting and playing chess.

Source: Wikipedia

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – Trailer

HAL 9000 in EVA Pod


Hal is a HAL 9000 computer with a human personality. Hal is capable of many functions, such as speech, speech recognition, facial recognition, lip-reading, interpreting emotions, expressing emotions, and chess, in addition to maintaining all systems on Discovery.

The novel explains that HAL is unable to resolve a conflict between his general mission to relay information accurately, and orders specific to the mission requiring that he withhold from Bowman and Poole the true purpose of the mission. (This withholding is considered essential after the findings of a psychological experiment, “Project Barsoom”, where humans were made to believe that there had been alien contact. In every person tested, a deep-seated xenophobia was revealed, which was unknowingly replicated in HAL’s constructed personality. Mission Control did not want the crew of Discovery to have their thinking compromised by the knowledge that alien contact was already real.) With the crew dead, HAL reasons, he would not need to lie to them.

HAL speaks in a soothing male voice, always using a calm tone.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Hal is built into the Discovery 1 spacecraft, and is in charge of maintaining all mechanical and life support systems on board.Hal also has several “eyes” placed periodically around the spacecraft. About three weeks into the flight, Hal picks up a fault in the AE-35 unit, the system responsible for keeping the satellite dish antenna aligned with the Earth, and states that it will go one-hundred percent failure within 72 hours. He suggests that they go EVA and replace the faulty unit with a new one. Dr. David Bowman goes out and retrieves the unit. But when he brings it back and runs it through diagnostics, they can find no problem with the AE-35. They radio Mission Control about the problem, and Mission Control says that Hal is in error predicting the fault. This is a bit of a surprise, as the 9000 series has a perfect operational record.

Noting that this kind of thing has always been because of human error when it has occurred before, Hal suggests that they go out and “replace the malfunctioning unit and allow it to fail. Then it should be a simple matter to track down the problem.”

But by this time, both Dr. Frank Poole and Bowman are becoming suspicious of Hal’s behaviour. They climb into one of the EVA pods, out of earshot of Hal. Poole states that he has “a bad feeling about him”. Bowman and Poole suggest disconnecting Hal if he is wrong about predicting the fault. Unbeknownst to them, Hal read their lips through the window of the spacepod. Translating their lip motions, Hal learns of their plans for his disconnection; according to Clarke, “he (will) be deprived of all his inputs, and thrown into an unimaginable state of unconsciousness. To Hal, this (is) the equivalent of death. For he (has) never slept, and therefore he (does) not know that one (can) wake again.”

Poole goes out to replace the supposedly malfunctioning AE-35 unit. As he drifts through space to the satellite dish, Hal takes control of the pod and rams it into Poole, disconnecting his oxygen hose and venting the air in his suit, killing him. Bowman, obviously distraught by the loss of his friend, goes out to retrieve Poole’s body. However, while Bowman is out on his excursion, Hal shuts off the life support systems on the three astronauts in hibernation, which kills them all. After Bowman returns to the Discovery I, Hal denies him reentry into the pod bay. So Bowman has to maneuver the pod over to the emergency airlock. Unfortunately, in his haste to retrieve his friend, Bowman had not bothered to don the helmet of his life-support suit because he had not believed he would need it, making it very difficult to enter the emergency airlock, as he would have to travel through the vacuum of space in order to do so. This, however, does not stop Bowman. Risking the hazards of explosive decompression, he eventually gets inside, grabs a space helmet, and goes to Hal’s logic memory center to erase his memory. There he pulls out the memory tablets that control Hal’s higher functions. As his memory degrades, Hal begins to give off information programmed very early in his life, such as the date he became operational. When all his logic is gone, he begins to sing the song “Daisy Bell.” His final act of consciousness is to play a briefing that Dr. Heywood R. Floyd pre-recorded about the Tycho Monolith before their departure, and the real purpose of the Discovery I’s mission.



Full NameHeuristically Programmed Algorithimic Computer 9000 (HAL 9000)
Origin2001: A Space Odyssey
Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey saga
GoalsKill the crew of the ship to prevent them from ruining the mission or shutting him down (succeeded).
Prevent David from doing the same (failed).
CrimesMass murder
Type of Villain
Robotic Control Freak

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