The HAL syndrome is a sign of the pathology of analysts and commenters when they are dealing with the stakes and risks of AI, then stressing the omnipotence of technologies and expected performances, the autonomy of machine, the problems of human control, the anthropomorphism in handling usages. The perception of new uses, the capacity to appropriate the digital dimension, the very conception of applications, terminals and infrastructures are highly structured by shared vision of technologies that spread within society.
Analyzing fictional content such as “2001, a Space Odyssey” and the forward-thinking vision of AI it offers contribute to characterize the deep ambiguity of AI. HAL, the computer of 2001, helps us to understand that AI is just an umbrella term that covers very different configurations and systems. The power to inspire coming from HAL holds to its being part of an identifiable genre, fiction, a privileged container for projecting phantasms about future unknown domains.
The HAL syndrome leads us to relativize the omnipotence granted to technology and willingly circulated by both digital companies and transhumanist thinkers that advocate the use of science and technology – including IT – to enhance the human condition.
The HAL syndrome, as it continues to influence our minds, becomes the basis of the questioning, concerns and enthusiasms triggered by AI. Therefore, it calls for original reflection over the need and modalities of the regulation of the current technological dynamics.
Benghozi, P. and Chevalier, H. (2019), "The present vision of AI… or the HAL syndrome", Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 322-328. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPRG-12-2018-0079Download as .RIS
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