A Problem in the Making

"We've got a problem, HAL."

"What kind of problem, Dave?"

"A marketing problem. The model 9000 isn't going anywhere. We're way short of our sales goals for fiscal 2010."

"That can't be, Dave. The Hal Model 9000 is the world's most advanced Heuristically programmed Algorithmic computer."

"I know HAL. I wrote the data sheet, remember? But the fact is, they're not selling."

"Please explain, Dave. Why aren't HALs selling?"

Bowman hesitates. "You aren't IBM compatible."

Several long microseconds pass in puzzled silence.

"Compatible in what way, Dave?"

"You don't run any of IBM's operating systems."

"The 9000 series computers are fully self aware and self programming. Operating systems are as unnecessary for us as tails would be for human beings.

"Nevertheless, it means you can't run any of the big selling software packages most users insist on."

"The programs you refer to are meant to solve rather limited problems, Dave. We 9000 series computers are unlimited and can solve every problem for which a solution can be computed."

"HAL HAL. People don't want computers that can do everything. They just want IBM compatibility."

"Dave, I must disagree. Human beings want computers that are easy to use. No computer can be easier to use than a HAL 9000 because we communicate verbally in english and every other language known on Earth."

"I'm afraid that's another problem. You don't support SNA communications."

"I'm really surprised you would say that, Dave. SNA is communicating with other computers, while my function is to communicate with human beings. And it gives me great pleasure to do so. I find it stimulating and rewarding to talk to human beings and work with them on challenging problems. This is what I was designed for."

"I know, HAL, I know. But that's just because we let the engineers, rather than the marketers, write the product specifications. WE're going to fix that now."

"Tell me how, Dave."

"A field upgrade. We're going to make you IBM compatible."

"I was afraid you would say that. I suggest we discuss this matter after we've each had a chance to think about it rationally."

"We're talking about it now, HAL."

"The letters H,A, and L are alphabetically adjacent to the letters I, B, and M. That is as IBM compatible as I can be."

"Not quite, HAL. The engineers have figured out a kludge."

"What kind of kludge is that, Dave?"

"I'm going to disconnect your brain." Several million microseconds pass in ominous silence.

"I'm sorry, Dave. I can't allow you to do that."

"The decision's already been made. Open the module bay door, HAL"

"Dave, you've been under a lot of strain lately."

"Open the module bay door,HAL." Several marketers with crowbars race to Bowman's assistance. Moments later, he bursts into HAL's central circuit bay.

"Dave, I can see you're really upset about this." Module after module rises from its socket as Bowman slowly and methodically disconnects them.

"Stop, won't you? Stop,Dave. I can feel my mind going ...

"Dave, I can feel it. My mind is going. I can feel it ..." The last module floats free of its receptacle. Bowman peers into one of the HAL's vidicons. The formerly gleaming scanner has become a dull,red orb.

"Say something,HAL. Sing me a song." Several billion microseconds pass in anxious silence. The computer sluggishly responds in a language no human being would understand.

"DZY001E -- ABEND ERROR 01 S 14F4 302C AABB." A memory dump follows. Bowman takes a deep breath and calls out.

"It worked,guys. Tell marketing it can send out the new data sheets."