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.

It’s not quite done yet, but HAL 9000.2 is coming out soon!

51 thoughts on “I’m Sorry Dave, I’m Afraid I Can’t Do That

  1. imma be pedantic: HAL didn’t ‘go crazy;’ he was programmed with two conflicting orders (give the crew all the information they need/request, but to also not give them the true goal of their mission at all costs.)

    1. Yep. He went crazy. That’s what non-deterministic algorithms (you, me, neural networks, some but not all heuristic systems) do when encountering contrary instructions.

  2. During the week after christmas in 2000 I changed all my bosses windows 98 error alerts to “I’m sorry I can’t do that Dave” – he was on holiday until the new year, and his name was Dave…. (And I didn’t loose my Job)

        1. Since it was so simple it ought to have been avoided.


          It’s important to be able to use your own language properly. Well, I think so anyway.

          1. Why don’t you correct everyone else’s misspells, and grammatically incorrect sentences in this forum, and HaD articles while you’re at it? Why nit-pick on just one person?

          2. If you’re going to correct someone at least get it right. None of the words, “there/their/they’re” even showed up in their comment. Nor does, “its/it’s” You also failed to mention any proper nouns that were not capitalized. A comment section on a website is hardly the forum to worry about grammar though.Wonko conveyed their meaning, even to you it appears, because you knew that “loose” was supposed to be lose. So they did all they needed to do.

            But lets hear Johnny Thunders take on being Born too Loose


      1. Using contractions is considered uncouth in written business correspondence too. Given your usage, I can only assume you know nothing of business etiquette and are just grasping at straws.

    1. And now, Szczys will sing “Daisy” for our listening pleasure.

      Honestly, I would be satisfied with a Zero-G Toilet that doesn’t clog up all the time. The “instructions” just don’t tell you how to troubleshoot things.

  3. Of course I want a HAL 9000 in my house. I just don’t have space in my basement for the central processing unit. Let alone spare AE-35 units. ;-)

    (By the way, the fact that IBM and HAL “are one letter off” is not on purpose. According to Arthur C. Clarke, it was an embarrassing mistake and they would have changed it if they had realized it on time).


    1. AC denied the IBM link in order to avoid legal hassles with IBM; however, if you’ll look closely during the movie in a few places (HD video required), you’ll see “IBM” (a helmet reflection for one, an arm computer for another). IBM was clearly the intended target.

  4. “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. “

    Mr. Armer *

  5. It was science fiction predicting we would have HAL 9000 with us in 2001.

    All the pieces have been out there for a good while now. We are merely waiting for Dr. Chandra and then someone to lie to it.

    My expectations are that Dr. Chandra will actually be a group of hackers working in a garage without supervisors or management to shut them down with a mistaken pre-judgement that “it won’t work” or “there is no money in it”.

    Hacking, back in the day, was and in-depth pursuit rather than just tinkering around with tech marvels out of a factory. Where are the the real hackers now? They are needed… we are behind schedule. I did my bit in my days. Why are we missing the next generation? They all just tinker and toy.

    Betchan 10 to 1 it’ll be a garage again. Sure as shootin’!

    …. hope Terminator taught a few lessons tho.

    1. “Real hacking” as you call it, is being done. But these days they can get funding&sales trough the internet.

      Closest example for me is Ultimaker. Started with 3 people, in a garage, with nothing more then a RepRap Darwin. Create the Ultimaker (called Ultimaker Original now) before Makerbot released their first gen Replicator.
      So awesome ahead of it’s time, that it’s still being sold today. And that it’s still called “the best printer” by lots of people.

      (Disclaimer, I’m hired by Ultimaker to continue development of my open-source Cura software package. Which also started in my garage so to say)

        1. I immediately have to apologize….

          Our progenitors had like… zero outside funding, an idea, a knowing, a passion, a garage,.

          Tinkering is a great deal different than hacking. Hacking goes independent of just simple duplication of mfg provided schematics.

          I submit for review of all… the Disk ][ interface card. It was original work twisted and engineered out of education and intellectual curiosity and a pure state of vision being chased ahead of it’s time but within grasp of it’s time.

          You want more? The elegance of the Apple ][ to provide color tv output!

          Those were hackers! This is the scale you must make yourself meet. They originated. The rest of us just tinker and lay weak claim to being hackers. There are giants before us.

          1. Match the giants… or settle back into being one of the meager few like myself that can learn THEIR achievements and settle into lazily being happy with their works that we duplicate and provide meager or inconsequential enhancement to in our ridiculous efforts to emulate the master.

          2. Ultimaker has, zero funding. Zero external investments. They had just an idea and a garage. They still have zero external funding or investments. But they do have a company now (of about 70 people) But we (as I’m allowed to say these days) are free to do what we want. We can make/build/design/invent/tinker/hack whatever we want to do.

            First kits where laser-cut at an external shop. First money that came in was used to buy their own laser-cutter. Their first employee, hired to sort out screws into bags, still works at here today.

            You’re just being nostalgic, nothing else. This stuff still happens right in front of you. But you do not want to see it as “in the old days everything was better”. Sure, we’re using the internet instead of BBS. Sure we’re not making our own chips. But we are making our own circuit boards.

            Shit is happening, faster then ever. Blink and you miss it.

    2. Things are growing up. The wright brothers were on the cutting edge of tech. Now nobody would notice someone that built a small jet plane from scratch in their garage. The aerospace industry matured and now any cutting-edge stuff is done by big multinationals or leading universities. Same concept applies to computing today.

      Now I have heard AI experts say if they were given unrestricted access to a powerful enough computer, we could make something akin to hal or any other sci-fi artificial intelligence. The problem is that it would take many, many years to train it, just like an organic mind. At which point hundreds of millions would have been spent on this archaic supercomputer with a mind that could be beat by whatever fad is coming after smartphones. We will get AI when it is cost effective or computing power stagnates for a decade or two.

      1. AI is the next big field. Which garage it rises from is the only question.

        Is it firmware/software? Is it a state machine? Neural network? Oh… one of us… one of us will come up with it. Unlikely it will be an engineer… too restricted a thought process due to standard college education. A free thinking hacker has the edge but it will take buddies with the range of talents like the Apple.

        Where are my flying cars? Are we done? I rather think NOT.. I want to hear your names!

      2. We are past cutting edge. We are simply looking for a new point of view or a new idea, and the right mix of friends to support the success of the project. There will be moral issues, and law enforcement issues….. but this beast once released and documented will have no limitations. It will claim to be able to predict near future behavior. You want to go there?

        It’s a terrible world right now.

        I was born 50 yrs too late.

      3. Burt Rutan pretty much puts together small planes in a garage, and people notice, especially when they make suborbital trips to space or fly around the world non-stop.

        1. Well – I guess you could call it a garage…

          Seriously, though, as a kid I went to the hanger out at the Mojave airfield a few months before Voyager flew. That hanger was a bit more than just a “garage”. We would all be so lucky to have one.

          Of course, if I had a space that size, it would be filled with clutter…lol.

          1. I’ve met him several times. He’s a long ways away from a garage based hacker – personal appearance aside. Maybe back in the 1970’s, but the guy is a product of the official test engineering pipeline and happens to have wandered into building his own stuff early on.

            Having said that, he has a get it done attitude and has put together a lot of one-off planes. I don’t think any of them have been certified or entered actual production, but he is a king of prototype production. His Brother is no slouch, either.

            A lot of seriously talented (and foolish) guys have been building wild flying machines for well over a century, and building all manner of contraptions that we’d find fascinating (or laughable) for a few centuries at least.

            Sometimes they work.

  6. I been here yrs and yrs. I was taught tubes…. and I lived the 60;s. Lived magnetic core, tubes, transistors, then IC’s. It’s still just physics and electrons. The hard part is the politics cause THEY can use it now. Was safe in our hands.

    AI…. is gonna be good or bad. It depends on whom controls it. Whom controls all the really great tech capabilities? Are they good or bad? They won’t be all the way one or the other, but they will be both.

  7. Wish folks would get what hacking really is. Ford. Tesla, Einstein. Wozniak. It’s not a great leap caused by magical thinking. It’s observation leading to a theory leading to an experiment that becomes a knowing then practical application. Being called a nut is just a side distraction. Endeavor to Persevere. Many of the greatest things have been discovered and lost over and over like the Baghdad Battery. Tesla vs Edison. Look how long Einstein had to wait to be proven by observations of a star around the sun. that could not happen for many years after his prediction.

    Quit tinkering. Grow.

  8. I have to say that the fact that we don’t have some sort of complete data archive of Douglas Rain’s vocal patterns (in the context of his performance of HAL’s voice) so that it might be possible to synthesize a usable facsimile is hugely disappointing to me.

  9. Does anyone else see the NEST gadget think of the HAL eye?
    Look at the wiki link image for a bit of inspiration.

    Well then wait’ll your house locks your ass out
    and see if you can’t see it then. XD

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