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Hal's Legacy: 2001's Computer as Dream and Reality

by David G. Stork

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About Book

If you loved "2001: A Space Odyssey," you'll be delighted by this book that asks "How realistic was HAL?" Contributions by various scientists include essays on supercomputer design with regard to speech synthesis, common sense reasoning, emotions, lip reading and even playing chess. As the authors explore what is science fantasy and what is technological fact, they also look at how HAL influenced technological development in the past 30 years. The final chapter, called "When HAL Kills, Who's to Blame?" deals with the ethical aspects of building intelligent machines.

...Stork has assembled a beautiful package of essays on just how close computers have come to Clarke's vision over the last three decades.

From School Library Journal
YA?Although it has been 30 years since Stanley Kubrick brought Arthur Clarke's 2001 to the screen, the many ethical as well as scientific questions that the film raised still create a stir. For this title, Stork asked some of our leading scientists to explain the developments in the area of artificial intelligence and to look again at HAL given today's technology. The result is this collection of original essays that span such topics as "Could we build HAL?" "How could HAL see?" and "When HAL kills, who's to blame?" and differentiate between those aspects of the famous computer's capabilities that are fact and those that will most likely always remain science fiction. Although the general focus of the book is the movie, it goes on to provide a balanced survey of the subject of artificial intelligence. Despite the scientific slant of these writings, they are amazingly readable. Appropriate supplemental reading for a variety of subject areas and equally enjoyable for science-fiction fans and film buffs.?Martha Ray, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
In the 30 years since Stanley Kubrick's classic 2001: A Space Odyssey first appeared, millions who have seen the film have fully anticipated the imminent reality not only of the routine space travel it depicts but of its most famous character: the polite, officious, and ultimately murderous super-computer, HAL. Yet as this illuminating work points out, it is probably overly optimistic to expect true thinking machines by the year 2001. Eleven leading researchers in artificial intelligence (e.g., Marvin Minsky, MIT, and Daniel Lenat, Cycorp) discuss the question, Could HAL be built today? The 15 chapters cover the impressive advances made in speech synthesis, computer vision, and especially processing speed. But despite the success of chess-playing computers, the book's bottom line is that we haven't progressed toward a truly intelligent machine. An engrossing report from the scientific frontier; highly recommended.?Ben O'Sickey, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
As trivia mavens know, HAL, the Heuristic ALgorithmic computer, was "born" in Urbana, Illinois, on January 12, 1997; hence this Festschrift observing the occasion. The chapters are contributed by a dozen researchers into artificial intelligence (AI), responding to the intuitive questions felt by viewers of 2001: A Space Odyssey about the reality of HAL's capabilities, which may increase the prospect of mass appeal. Some of HAL's skills, such as playing chess, have been developed; others, conversing in human language for instance, are difficult, distant goals. And although the movie's action was impelled by the anticipation of AI, the consensus is that any HAL-like computer is far off, so the chapters also address the status of attributes of the movie HAL, such as lipreading, facial recognition, computer infallibility, and planning. The last chapter might be the most interesting because it outlines how HAL failed in his plan to kill the crew, though every chapter will engage every cyberphile (and might comfort the phobes). An inspired book expressed in layperson's terms. Gilbert Taylor

From Kirkus Reviews
Tributes to Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's classic film, and discussions concerning how close we are to computers that are as intelligent, as devious, and even as emotional as the infamous HAL. All 16 contributions collected by Stork (chief scientist of the Ricoh California Research Center) remark upon the fact that Clarke and Kubrick took extraordinary care to base the predictions embodied in 2001 on the best possible scientific knowledge of 1968. HAL, who was supposedly ``born'' in 1997 in Urbana, Ill., will not be possible by 2001, if ever, and Kubrick and Clarke were not prescient enough to predict the most significant advance since the film's release: miniaturization. However, they were fanatically concerned with getting small details right, such as the chess game between HAL and Frank; Murray S. Campbell, a chess player himself, entertainingly discusses how HAL's game is a real game, suggesting IBM's challenge to Gary Kasparov in 1995 to play its computer Deep Blue. Marvin Minsky, the ``father'' of artificial intelligence (AI), discusses HAL's abilities in terms of what might one day be possible, while Daniel Dennett weighs in on the ethics of HAL's murders of the crew and on Frank's decision to disconnect HAL. David Wilkins speaks to the impossibility of trying to program computers to account for every eventuality, and how no plan is ever sufficient. The most fascinating discussions here concern language, however, and the difficulties of designing computers that can both speak and understand speech. Raymond Kurzweil argues that by 2001 we will be able to speak to computers and expect them to do what we say. But both Joseph Olive and Roger Schank point to the almost insurmountable difficulties involved in teaching natural language to computers and ensuring that they understand what they are saying. The cutting edge of AI, and not bad as film criticism either. (color photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Midwest Book Review
The fantasy and actuality of the movie 2001's fantastic computer HAL is explored in a dramatic volume which explores the rising vision of artificial intelligence systems. Surprisingly non-technical chapters will appeal to general readers in exploring the visions of science fiction writer Clarke and the applications of science fiction dreams to the realities of computer technologies. In exploring the technologies which would be needed to create a HAL-type computer, this probes the foundations of computer theory and technological advancement.

Book Description
I became operational... in Urbana, Illinois, on January 12, 1997.

Inspired by HAL's self-proclaimed birth date, HAL's Legacy reflects upon science fiction's most famous computer and explores the relationship between science fantasy and technological fact. The informative, nontechnical chapters written especially for this book describe many of the areas of computer science critical to the design of intelligent machines, discuss whether scientists in the 1960s were accurate about the prospects for advancement in their fields, and look at how HAL has influenced scientific research.

Contributions by leading scientists look at the technologies that would be critical if we were, as Arthur Clarke and Stanley Kubrick imagined thirty years ago, to try and build HAL in 1997: supercomputers, fault-tolerance and reliability, planning, artificial intelligence, lipreading, speech recognition and synthesis, commonsense reasoning, the ability to recognize and display emotion, and human-machine interaction. A separate chapter by philosopher Daniel Dennett considers the ethical implications of intelligent machines.

Book Info
Describes many of the areas of computer science critical to the design of intelligent machines and discusses whether scientists in the 1960s were accurate about the prospects for advancement in their fields, and consider how HAL has influenced scientific research. DLC: Computer science.

About the Author
David G. Stork is Chief Scientist of the Ricoh Silicon Valley and Head of its Machine Learning and Perception Group, as well as Consulting Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Visiting Scholar in Psychology at Stanford University.



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