Space Odyssey: Getting Closer To A Real HAL

A few years after the hugely successful Iron Man movie series came out, people got to work on building JARVIS, the loveable AI system used by Tony Stark. However, one AI system that was probably popularized long before we could get close to realistically making it in our own time was that of HAL 9000. The awesome AI was one of the many fantastic things about 2001: A Space Odyssey, and we might now have an actual version of HAL 9000 to talk to in the near future.

No longer just a wonderful supporting character in (yet another) Stanley Kubrick classic, we can now enjoy HAL 9000 closer than we ever have until now. It’s a wonderful creation, and computer scientist and all-round expert Pete Bonasso has been at the forefront of its creation. While he’s happily informed people that paranoia won’t be making a feature this time around, we can see just about every other viable feature coming to life in impressive fashion.

Speaking about this was Bonasso, who said: “I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey in my senior year at West Point in 1968. West Point had only one computer,

“I programmed that computer to shoot pool, virtually. But when I saw 2001, I knew I had to make the computer into another being, a being like HAL 9000.”

His new study, then, titled “CASE: A HAL 9000 for 2021”, shows us exactly how Bonasso went about creating the study. Named CASE itself, he managed to create an AI that was suitable for dealing with standard day-to-day life on a virtual planet, including managing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. He was even able to send out an AI controlled rover to pick up some rocks!

Also, this HAL-alike could even be designed to solve anything from gas leaks to dust storms. It’s a very handy piece of kit, but primarily shows us how far technology has jumped since the days of 2001.

A fantastic recreation

According to the study penned to cover CASE, it was noted that “If you say, ‘Open the pod bay doors, CASE’ (assuming there are pod bay doors in the habitat), unlike HAL, it will respond, ‘Certainly, Dave,’ because we have no plans to program paranoia into the system.”

Managed across a 4-hour session, this delivered a huge amount of useful information back to Bonasso. Nobody virtual or otherwise died during the mission, and they were able to run the overall virtual mission without a single problem – result!

While it likely won’t be working in our own day-to-day lives anytime soon, we can say that we aren’t a hundred miles away from progress. It may be 20 years after it was predicted in the movie, but we’re excited to see if HAL 9000 is kicking around, in some form or another, in 2021.

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