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Old September 22 2012, 05:47 AM   #103
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Re: Rename The Motion Picture

Christopher wrote: View Post
CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
The shattered wine glass was all we needed to know about why HAL broke down. He broke because he was made by human hands, because humans have accidents. While I didn't mind the explanation given in 2010 (I'm not going to look it up in the text, but I seriously doubt it was called a Hofstadter-M÷bius loop or a "Hofstadter" anything in the book, since G÷del, Escher, Bach was published in 1979), in and of itself it was ultimately yackety technobabble of no consequence, except possibly to help establish that HAL was "cured". Furthermore, like most technobabble, it raised more questions than it answered, and on close inspection wasn't really convincing.
Oh, good grief, you couldn't be more wrong. The explanation had nothing to do with technobabble and everything to do with who HAL was as a character and the unfair and impossible situation he was placed in by his uncaring superiors. He was made to relay accurate information -- in other words, to be truthful. Yet the bwho sent him on the Jupiter mission programmed him to keep secrets from his crew -- to lie to them. They didn't realize how that would traumatize him, because lying and coverups came easily to them. To HAL, it meant being forced to go against his most fundamental instincts. And the severe cognitive dissonance that caused him, his inability to cope with the situation, led to a psychotic break.

So while the movie gives the impression that "He's just evil because he's inhuman," the book -- and the movie sequel -- reveals exactly the opposite, that it was the decisions of humans that caused HAL's breakdown. Essentially, humanity created a being without original sin and then forced him to become a sinner like themselves, and it broke him. That's much deeper than technobabble.
OK, well, I think you're wrong. So, how about that?

2001, the film, most certainly does not give the impression that HAL is evil because he's inhuman. I don't know where you get that from. If anything, the problems come because HAL is too human.

If you're going to bring Abrahamic religion into it: HAL is made in Man's image. The problem is that God didn't make HAL; Man did. In that sense, Man is trying to act like God, except that Man is not infallible. Furthermore, Man's is a flawed image in which to create something in the first place.

Humans are responsible for HAL's failures. You said that. I said that. We agree. Even HAL said that in the first film. So, I don't even know what the hoopla is all about, anyway.

However, the idea that evil bureaucrats did an end run around the noble scientists is not something that I would call deep. Maybe in 1968 that was cutting edge, but by 1984 it was a clichÚ. By pointing in another direction, it actually undercuts the idea presented in the first film, that mankind must take a fundamentally new step to further his cosmic evolution, not one to shed himself of the evil bureaucrats mucking up the works, but rather one to overcome his innate flaws arising out of his own mortality.

The idea that HAL is some na´ve truth-teller, and that we should show him sympathy as if he were a human character, while interesting, and alluring, is unfortunately fundamentally implausible, because it paradoxically requires HAL to have an irrational core, in order to be susceptible to psychosis. The explanation itself is therefore self-contradictory, as it requires that HAL be intrinsically endowed with irrational traits, besides just the rational trait of being a truth-teller, and be so endowed before he's mucked up by the bureaucrats. This is why I said, in my post, that the explanation as given does not stand up to close inspection. To be plausible, at some level you have to accept that the scientists failed in their job, too. Their failure may not have been ethical, but rather intellectual, but it was still failure nevertheless. They certified that HAL was, in all practical senses, foolproof, but he was not. They did not anticipate all the kinds of bugs that HAL could have. They made one of the classic blunders in computer science, in not anticipating that the user would not follow the instructions given in the manual. It's just politics at that point who gets blamed, and 2010 was certainly heavy-handed and shallow in its politics.

Dragging good and evil into it is barking up the wrong tree, I think, because most everything that happens in 2001 is a double-edged sword. So-called good and evil are hand-in-hand throughout the whole film. Unless of course that is the point of bringing up good and evil in the first place, to observe that they go hand-in-hand throughout mankind's cosmic evolution.
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