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HAL's Legacy: "2001's" Computer as Dream and Reality [Paperback]

David Stork
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: £17.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

14 April 1998
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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 394 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press; New edition edition (14 April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262692112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262692113
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 20 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 845,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Author

You can read several chapters of "HAL's Legacy" online at:


and see some of the celebrations associated with the birth of the HAL 9000 computer at:


The book is profusely illustrated with images from "2001" and current research, and is written for nonscientific and scientific audiences alike, and will appeal especially to fans of science fantasy and technological reality familiar with the film. It consists of chapters specially written by world leaders in various aspects of computer science, as listed on the Table of Contents. The book has four main goals:

1) Compare the vision of computer science as
expressed in "2001: A Space Odyssey" with
actual developments in the 30 years since the
film's release.

2) Teach basic aspects of computer science, such as
speech recognition, computer vision, language
understanding, lipreading, and artificial
intelligence, and the difficulties in solving

3) Shed greater light on the movie itself, giving the
viewer a deeper aesthetic appreciation of the

4) Show how the film influenced the careers of
budding computer scientists.

The book sheds light on key moments of the film: you will never see "2001" (or your own computer) the same way again. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
With most science fiction films, the more science you understand the less you admire the film or respect its makers. Read the first page
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dave...Don't Stop! 11 Aug 1997
By A Customer
Prior to attending a lecture by Dr. David Stork at a celebration of HAL 9000's birthday in Urbana, Illinois, I had only a passing interest in the field of Artificial Intelligence. After the lecture, I was motivated to learn more and bought a copy of his book, Hal's Legacy: 2001's Computer As Dream and Reality. It turned out to be one of the most thought-provoking as well as entertaining books I have read.

Through a series of expert essays, Stork explores the current state and direction of Artificial Intelligence using HAL as both backdrop and benchmark.

Non-technical readers will enjoy the way that the scientists that Stork has chosen present their theories of what it would take for us to realize Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's vision of HAL.

HAL's Legacy analyzes the prospects and possibilities of computers being able to converse, understand natural language, visualize, feel emotion, and even make value judgements. It also give the reader a new appreciation of the science that went into the science fiction of the movie 2001.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Brian Clegg TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For me, 2001 was the first (and still one of the only) science fiction films that comes close to being accurate in its science. And without doubt, the movie-stealing character (certainly the most emotionally ranging character) was the computer, HAL.

This is an old book, dating back to the late 1990s, but still fascinating in the way that it uses the different aspects of HAL to look at how the real technologies have developed in comparison with the way they were envisaged in the 1960s film. It’s in the format of a series of articles by different authors. Amongst my favourites was the AI overview by Marvin Minsky, who was on set part of the time (and nearly killed by a flying spanner) and the discussion of HAL’s game of chess, reflecting on the way he plays chess like a person, rather than in the manner of a chess-playing computer like IBM’s Deep Blue.

Inevitably it’s a bit dated in places – but surprisingly little, considering how computer technology has moved on since the late 1990s. Also it’s probably a touch too academic and obsessed with every fiddly detail to make it acceptable as a general read (which is why I’ve only given it three stars). But if, like me, you were overwhelmed at the time by 2001, and are still impressed by it, this is a book of delights.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is a well written and easy to understand book about artificial intelligence. This book examines "2001: A Space Odyssey," from the standpoint of scientific predictions. It examines the central character of the book - HAL 9000, the highly intelligent computer that has emotions. It explores questions such as whether HAL can be built, why is HAL late for his party and how the technologies, enabling HAL, are progressing. It also examines the feature film from the view point of a scientist. It examines the making of the film and shows how faithfulness it is to science. You will gain a much greater appreciation of the book "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the epic film after you read the book.
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