materials on the consumer scene was one aspect of producing hu- man-appearing artificial bodies.Another was the growth of biotech- nology and implant science. Further, the rise of computation and the possibility of artificial intelligence (AI) suggested, for the first time ever, that meaningful mental capacity could be manufactured. And the miniaturization and reduced power consumption of components, from electronic circuit elements to electric motors, meant that com- plex physical and computational systems could be put into an artifi- cial body.
ALL TOO HUMAN
This technological background supported a trend toward imaginary artificial beings that looked or acted more human, as exemplified in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001:A Space Odyssey (the script of which was adapted from Arthur C. Clarke’s 1951 short story The Sentinel. Clarke co-wrote the script with Kubrick). Among many gripping elements in that innovative film is the artificial intelligence HAL, which operates the spaceship carrying humans to the planet Jupiter. HAL is capable of making serious decisions for the mission and has sufficient personhood to chat on television with an interviewer and exchange pleasantries with the spacecraft crew.To some viewers, HAL seemed more human than the almost emotionless astronauts.
For reasons not entirely clear, though perhaps driven by the knowledge that it could be turned off by humans, HAL sinks into madness and murders the astronaut crew leaving just one survivor, Dave. As Dave disables HAL by pulling out memory chip after memory chip, HAL expresses feelings that might be genuine, or might be mimicked—in either case, humanlike behavior—in the hope of moving Dave to pity. Eventually Hal’s diminished mental capacity returns it to its younger days, until at the end it is like a proud five- year-old child showing off:
I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal . . . will you stop, Dave . . . my mind is going . . . there is no question about it . . . (slows down) . . . I’m afraid. . . . Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000