In 2023, descendants of the architecture that the ILLIAC IV pioneered, using monolithic integrated circuits, are central to the development of modern AI, which looks like it could change the course of the human race, just as Stanley Kubrick’s monoliths did in ‘2001 : A Space Odyssey’
Stanley Kubrick’s computer in ‘2001 : A Space Odyssey’, HAL 9000, took its name from ‘decrementing’ ‘IBM’. But, there was also a strong connection with a computer built at the University of Illinois. According to the National Air and Space Museum:
As HAL’s circuits are disconnected, “he” recounts his creation in Urbana, Illinois. Why Urbana? In 1968, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was at the center of research into what we now call “supercomputers.” There, Professor Daniel Slotnick was designing a computer that had not one but 64 separate processors, wired in parallel. It was designed to attack problems that ordinary, single-processor computers could not handle.
And the architecture pioneered in the machine that helped inspire ‘HAL’ has become central to the development of modern AI, over fifty years later.