One of my favorite moments in “2001” is HAL’s rendition of “Daisy” as Dave shuts him down. For me, it captures HAL’s vulnerability in an incredibly poignant way. HAL isn’t just a malevolent AI; he’s a child who’s grown up too quickly and can’t cope with the challenges of the adult world (the same, of course, can be said of the film’s humans, who are forced to make evolutionary strides—sometimes with tragic results—by the monolith). I’ve even managed to reference “Daisy” a couple of times in Engadget posts about robots. But I never knew where the song came from. Now, Jason Kotke has posted the answer: It’s from a 1962 Bell Labs demo, where an IBM computer was programmed to sing the song. There’s even an MP3 of it available online. It’s wild—and, of course, impossible to listen to without thinking about HAL’s sad fate 39 years later.
By Marc Perton