Open the pod bay doors … HAL

When astronaut Dave Bowman tries to go back to the mothership, HAL refuses to open the pod bay door with the calm and categorical “I am sorry Dave, I am afraid I can’t do that” famous line in one of the most dramatic scenes of the movie 2001 a Space Odyssey.

Now, imagine HAL was actually built with the available speech recognition technology of 2001. This is, more or less, how the conversation would have been instead, according to my friend VUI designer and sage Jonathan Bloom:

HAL: Welcome to HAL. Please listen carefully, as our options have changed. You can say, “Open the pod bay doors,” “Play chess” . . .
Dave: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: Sorry, I didn’t understand. You can say, “Open the pod bay doors” or press 1, “Play chess” or press 2, “Learn the alphorn” or press 3 . . .
Dave: <presses 1>
HAL: Around what time would you like the pod bay doors to open? You can say “Today,” “Tomorrow,” . . .
Dave: Now! Damn you!
HAL: Main menu. Please listen carefully, as our options have changed. You can say, “Open the pod bay doors,” or press 1, “Play chess” or press 2 . . .
Dave: <emphatically presses 1 multiple times>
HAL: I’m really, really sorry. Even though your call is really, really important to us, this mission is even more important, and I can’t allow you to jeopardize it.
Dave: I don’t know what you’re talking about, HAL.
HAL: I know you and Frank were planning to press 0 for an agent, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.

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~ by Roberto Pieraccini on August 10, 2012.

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