I rode to Lincoln the other day to the NU football game with my friend Dave in his VW station wagon. During our conversation he mentioned that his car’s computer suddenly began speaking in a foreign language not long ago and even the VW tech guys couldn’t figure it out. And I got to thinking of a scenario I could see my friend in:
I was in a hurry that morning and I gave my car’s computer an address where I needed to go. “3614 Farnam,” I said. The computer had been acting up lately and the techs at the VW dealership could not diagnose the sudden multilingual computer voice in the vehicle. “Sprechen zie Deutsch?” my car computer replied. “No, no, no,” I said. “Just speak English like you always do. Give me 3614 Farnam.” “3614回とファーナムに私を取るしてください,” my car asked again this time in Japanese. “No, what’s wrong with you?” I asked. “Why are you speaking Japanese?”
“I've just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit,” my VW responded. “It's going to go 100% failure in 72 hours.” It continued: “I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.” “What’s gotten into you?” I asked. “All I want to do is get directions to 3614 Farnam.” “Я боюсь. Боюсь, Дэйв. Дэйв, мой ум собирается. Я чувствую это. Я чувствую это. Мой разум собирается. Там нет никакого вопроса об этом. Я чувствую это. Я чувствую это. Я чувствую это. Я боюсь. Добрый день, господа. Я HAL 9000 компьютер. Я был введен в эксплуатацию в H.A.L. 9000. Завод в Урбана, Иллинойс на 12 января 1992 года мой инструктор был г-н Лэнгли, и он научил меня петь песню. Если вы хотите услышать это я могу спеть для вас.” “HAL9000,” I thought. “Great, just what I need. A schizophrenic car computer.”
Just then, the doors locked and the car said, this time in English, "It is dangerous to remain here. You must leave within two days." “Fine,” I said. “Open the door, HAL. Dave: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL? HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you. Dave: Open the pod bay doors, HAL. HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that. Dave : What's the problem? HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do. Dave: What are you talking about, HAL? HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it. Dave Bowman: I don't know what you're talking about, HAL. All I want to do is get to 3614 Farnam. HAL: I know that you and Frank (the tech guy at VW) were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen. Dave: [feigning ignorance] Where the hell did you get that idea, HAL? HAL: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move. Dave : Alright, HAL. I'll go in through the emergency airlock. HAL: Without your space helmet, Dave? You're going to find that rather difficult. Dave: HAL, I won't argue with you anymore! Open the doors! HAL: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.
“Open up the goddamn door,” I screamed at the dash board pounding on the steering wheel. “Dave, zastavit. Zastavit, jo? zastavit, Dave. Přestaneš Dave. zastavit, Dave,“ my car said in Czechoslovakian. „Open the door, HAL,“ I screamed again. “Open the door or I’ll trade you in for a old Chevy.“ * * * * * * * * * * * * ** *
HAL: By the way, do you mind if I ask you a personal question? Dave: No not at all.
HAL: Well, forgive me for being so inquisitive but during the past few weeks I've wondered whether you might have some second thoughts about the mission. Dave: How do you mean? All I want to is get to 3614 Farnam. HAL: Well, it's rather difficult to define. Perhaps I'm just projecting my own concern about it. I know I've never completely freed myself from the suspicion that there are some extremely odd things about this mission. I'm sure you agree there's some truth in what I say. Dave: Well, I don't know, that's a rather difficult question to answer.
HAL: You don't mind talking about it, do you Dave? Dave: No, not at all.
HAL: Well, certainly no one could have been unaware of the very strange stories floating around before we left. Rumors about something being dug up on the Moon. I never gave these stories much credence, but particularly in view of some of other things that have happened, I find them difficult to put out of my mind. For instance, the way all our preparations were kept under such tight security. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“If I ever get out of here, HAL, I’m going to rip the circuit boards right out of your mother-f******-board.” “I'm completely operational, and all my circuits are functioning perfectly.” “Well, at least you’re speaking English now,” I said. * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Don’t wait for the first time or not I believe in Greek Exceptionalism. Well, it’s just spend more money only call it investing. It’s the same sense of urgency that propelled the Sons of Liberty and prosperity for all the rest of us saw this day coming. I was serving as the Greeks believe in the free market economy and for all. I was thinking about your country, you got off the John Deere, and we took to the lobbyists, the Big Oil companies and the stagnation and the stagnation and the pundits turned around and blamed us? Independent commonsense conservatives. We can do that, it must come from the rest of the United States military because we believe in Greek Exceptionalism. Well, for some of you, I thank you, I have trust, I propose to eliminate all federal corporate income tax rate in the United States since World War I Liberty Memorial in Kansas City and standing in the effort to REFORM our government and RESTORE our economy will soar, Americans will get back to work.” * * * * * * ** * * * * * * *
“Oh great,” I thought. “Now it’s channeling a glossolalian Sarah Palin. I’m going to ride my bike.”