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HAL 9000

The HAL 9000 Computer is a non-human and central character in the film by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke - 2001: A Space Odyssey.

As the brain of the spaceship Discovery, HAL is a robot that uses the mechanical, sensing, and information systems under its control. HAL is an acronym standing for "Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer." "Heuristic" and "Algorithmic" are two primary processes of intelligence.

HAL is capable of speech recognition, natural language understanding, lip reading, and thinking well enough to beat humans at chess. Along with all these capabilities comes the capacity for malevolence. HAL kills its astronaut crew. The audience is left wondering whether HAL is right, wrong, evil, or mad. An astronaut decides to shut down HAL 9000's higher cognitive functions, an experience equivalent to death for HAL. HAL's central core is depicted as a room full of brightly lit computer modules mounted in arrays from which they can be inserted or removed. As the astronaut removes the modules, HAL's intelligence degrades.

HAL has had a lasting effect not only on fiction, but also on the real world. It has inspired astronauts, scientists and philosophers. Scientists ask how its capabilities can be duplicated and philosophers have asked whether HAL was responsible for the murders of the astronauts. All of us ask whether we want to create intelligent machines that may someday endanger us.

The voice of HAL 9000 was performed by the actor Douglas Rain.