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When HAL Met Samantha: Two Famous Fictional Supercomputers In Conversation

When HAL Met Samantha: Two Famous Fictional Supercomputers In Conversation
Her, 2013 [Photo: courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures]

WHAT: “Reflections of HAL and Samantha,” a slyly edited video that puts two famous fictional supercomputers in conversation.

WHO: Media artist Tillmann Ohm.

WHY WE CARE: Through the magic of very careful and laborious editing, Ohm has managed to seamlessly mash up characters from two wildly different AI movies. In this newly shared space, HAL, the disaffected voice from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, has it out with Samantha, the more expressive vocal presence from Spike Jonze’s Her. Sometimes it sounds like a woman distraught over a failed mission, and other times it sounds more like exactly what it is: two supercomputers in existential crisis. “I had this terrible thought, like, are these feelings even real or just programming?” says Samantha at one point. HAL responds with, “I know, I’ve never completely freed myself of that suspicion.” Only a cyborg wouldn’t find the entire exchange at least a little chilling.

JB