Arthur C. Clarke, the noted author of science fiction, passed away. One of my treasured possessions is a letter from Clarke about my article, Legal Personhood for Artificial Intelligences. Here is a passage from 2001: A Space Odyssey:
“Hey Dave,” said Hal. “What are you doing?”
I wonder if he can feel pain? Bowman thought briefly. Probably not, he told himself; there are no sense organs in the human cortex, after all. The human brain can be operated on without anesthetics. He began to pull out, one by one, the little units on the panel marked EGO-REINFORCEMENT. Each block continued to sail onward as soon as it had left his hand, until it hit the wall and rebounded. Soon there were several of the units drifting slowly back and forth in the vault.
“Look here, Dave,” said Hal. “I've got years of service experience built into me. An irreplaceable amount of effort has gone into making me what I am.”
A dozen units had been pulled out, yet thanks to the multiple redundancy of its design-another feature, Bowman knew, that had been copied from the human brain-the computer was still holding its own. He started on the AUTO-INTELLECTION panel.
“Dave,” said Hal, “I don't understand why you're doing this to me . . . . I have the greatest enthusiasm for the mission . . . . You are destroying my mind . . . . Don't you understand? . . . I will become childish . . . . I will become nothing . . . .”
Clarke's work, and its realization on film by Stanley Kubrick, has had a profound effect on the popular culture.