World’s Biggest, Most Useless AI Machine

In a time when we’re inundated with talk of an impending AI apocalypse it’s nice to see an AI that’s intentionally useless. That AI is HAL 9000. No, not the conflicted HAL from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey but the World’s Biggest AI Useless Machine HAL built by [Rafael], [Mickey] and [Eyal] for GeekCon 2016 in Israel.

Standing tall, shiny and black, the box it’s housed in reminds us a bit of the monolith from the movie. But, in a watchful position near the top is HAL’s red eye. As we approach, HAL’s voice from the movie speaks to us asking “Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?” as the eye changes diameter in keeping with the speech’s amplitude. And at the bottom is a bright, yellow lever marked ON, which of course we just have to turn off. When we do, a panel opens up below it and a rod extends upward to turn the lever back to the ON position.

Behind the scenes are two Arduinos. One Arduino manages servos for the panel and rod as well as playing random clips of HAL from the movie. The other Arduino uses the Arduino TVout library to output to a projector that sits behind the red diffuser that is the eye. That Arduino also takes input from a microphone and based on the amplitude, has the projector project a white circle of corresponding diameter, making the eye’s appearance change. You can see all this in action in the video after the break.

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I’m Sorry Dave, I Only Say 28 Phrases

A few years ago, you could buy an IRIS 9000 Bluetooth speaker. Its claim to fame was that it looked like the “eye” from the HAL 9000 computer on 2001: A Space Oddessy. There’s something seductive about the idea of having a HAL eye answer your queries to Google Now or Siri. The problem is, it still sounds like Google or Siri, not like HAL.

[Badjer1] had the same problem so he decided to build his own eye. His goal wasn’t to interface with his smartphone’s virtual assistant, though. He settled on making it just be an extension cord with USB ports. As you can see in the video below, the build has HAL-style memory units, a key, and can speak phrases from the movie (well, 28 of them, at least). The key is like the one Dave used to deactivate HAL in the movie.

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I’m Sorry Dave, I’m Afraid I can’t Do That

HAL9000 Personal Computer

“Let me put it this way, Mr Amer. The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error. “

With that in mind, who wouldn’t want a HAL 9000 personal computer at home? For his latest project, [Eduardo Zola] brings us a very realistic Raspberry Pi powered HAL 9000, complete with an all seeing eye.

In case you’re not familiar (boo!) HAL 9000 is a character from 2001: a Space Odyssey. His name is an acronym for a Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic sentient computer who is responsible for controlling the Discovery One spacecraft, and well, he goes crazy.

[Eduardo] has built this replica out of wood, a bit of paint, a Raspberry Pi, a speaker, webcam and a beautiful red all-seeing-eye, lit with LEDs. It’s a rather fitting entry to our Hackaday Prize contest.

Continue reading “I’m Sorry Dave, I’m Afraid I can’t Do That”

Hackaday Links: September 8, 2013


“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t open the dorm room door.” Does your dorm room have a peephole? Take [pjensen’s] lead and turn it into a mini HAL 9000 using a red LED.

Mix a little work in with your hobby skills. [Vittore] needed to build a video looper to drive some TV screens for a Hotel contract job. He grabbed a Raspberry Pi and got to work. The final product (translated) even uses a shared folder on the hotel’s network as the source slides.

We’re not sure if anyone noticed last Monday (it was Labor Day in the U.S.).  We had a little fun with coffee themed posts. [Tom] wrote in to remind us about the HTCPCP: Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol. If you don’t have time to read it all, he suggests you don’t miss his favorite, error code 418.

Maybe funny reading isn’t your thing right now, but we have some more helpful stuff to offer. Check out [John Chandler’s] Commandments for using PIC microcontrollers from a few years back.

[Andy] has some old smart phones which he is using in his projects. His beef with the touchscreens is that there’s no tactile feedback. Since these are going to be dedicated displays he’s outlining the touch controls with tape to let your finger know what it’s doing.

If you’re living in your first home in America there’s a really good chance it’s a 1950’s ranch house considering how many of them were built after World War II. Bring its infrastructure into the information age with a cable retrofit. [Andrew Rossignol] just did so and posted a lot of pictures of the process.

If you liked [Ken Shirriff’s] post about the Sinclair Scientific Calculator we think you’ll love his continuation of a Z80 reverse engineering series.

Make an Arduino talk to you


One of the highlights from the Music Hack Day in Berlin was the Arduino singing “Daisy Bell”. If you don’t know, this is an homage to the HAL 9000 in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey; an artificial intelligence that was taught the song in its first steps toward self awareness culminating in an attempt to kill its masters.

It’s unlikely an Arduino will every make it to the point of attempted homicide but with the available code you can find out. Sample code and an explanation of human synthesis is now available through the Cantarino project. The project facilitates the use of phonemes from the SAM Apple II synthesizer to build wave forms that make up recognizable speech on the Arduino platform. The code illustrates how to select and link together speech sounds from the library. Check out the video after the break and then get to work on your own speech synthesis. We’re waiting for someone to put together the theme song from the 1980’s Transformers cartoon. Good luck! Continue reading “Make an Arduino talk to you”