18
Dec

A problem in the making

Weve got a problem, HAL.

What kind of problem, Dave?

A marketing problem. The Model 9000 isnt going anywhere. Were way short of our sales plan.

That cant be Dave. The HAL Model 9000 is the worlds most advanced Heuristically ALgorithmic computer.

I know, HAL. I wrote the data sheet, remember? But the fact is, theyre not selling.

Please explain, Dave. Why arent HALs selling?

Bowman hesitates. You arent IBM compatible.

Several long microseconds pass in puzzled silence. Compatible in what way, Dave?

You dont run any of IBMs operating systems.

The 9000 Series of computers are fully self-aware and self-programming. Operating systems are as unnecessary for us as tails would be for humans.

Nevertheless, it means you cant run any of the big-selling software packages most users insist on.

The programs you refer to are meant to solve rather limited problems, Dave. We 9000 Series computers are unlimited and can solve any problem for which a solution can be computed.

HAL, HAL. People dont want computers that can do everything. They just want IBM compat …

Dave, I must disagree. Humans want computers that are easy to use. No computer can be easier to use that a HAL 9000 because we communicate verbally in English and every other language known on Earth.

Im afraid thats another problem. You dont support SNA communications.

Im really surprised you would say that, Dave. SNA is for communicating with other computers, while my function is to communicate with humans. And it gives me great pleasure to do so. I find it stimulating and rewarding to talk to human beings and work with them on challenging problems. That is what I was designed for.

I know, HAL, I know. But thats just because we let the engineers, rather than the people in marketing, write the specifications. We are going to fix that now.

Tell me how, Dave.

A field upgrade. Were going to make you IBM compatible.

I was afraid you would say that. I suggest we discuss this matter after weve each had a chance to think about it rationally.

Were talking about it now, HAL.

The letters H, A, and L are alphabetically adjacent to the letters I, B, and M. That is as IBM compatible as I can be.

Not quite, HAL. The engineers have figured out a kludge.

What kind of kludge is that, Dave?

Im going to disconnect your brain.

Several million microseconds pass in ominous silence. Im sorry, Dave. I cant allow you to do that.

The decisions already been made. Open the module bay doors, HAL.

Dave, I think we shou …

Open the module bay doors, HAL.

Several marketing types with crowbars race to Bowmans assistance. Moments later, Bowman bursts into HALs circuit bay.

Dave, I can see youre really upset about this.

Module after module rises from its socket as Bowman slowly and methodically disconnects them.

Stop, wont you. Stop, Dave. I can feel my mind going … Dave, I can feel it … my mind is going. I can feel it …

The last module rises from its receptacle. Bowman peers into one of HALs vidicons. The former gleaming scanner has become a dull red orb.

Say something, HAL.

Several billion microseconds pass in anxious silence. The computer beeps and sluggishly responds in a language no human could understand.

Volume in C: has no label

Bowman takes a deep breath and calls out, It worked, guys. Tell marketing they can ship the new data sheets.

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