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In other words then, if a machine is

expected to be infallible, it cannot

also be intelligent. There are several

theorems which say almost exactly

that. But these theorems say nothing

about how much intelligence may

be displayed if a machine makes no

pretence at infallibility.

There is one final exculpatory

condition to consider: duress. This

is exactly the opposite of the other

condition. It is precisely because the

human agent is rational, and is faced

with an overwhelmingly good reason

for performing an injurious deed—

killing in self-defense, in the clearest

case—that he or she is excused, or at

least partly exonerated. These are the

forced moves of life; all alternatives

to them are suicidal. And that is too

much to ask, isn’t it?

Well, is it? We sometimes call upon

people to sacrifice their lives and

blame them for failing to do so, but

we generally don’t see their failure

as murder. If I could prevent your

death, but out of fear for my

own life I let you die,

that is not murder.

If HAL were brought into

court and I were called

upon to defend him, I

would argue that Dave’s

decision to disable HAL

was a morally loaded one,

but it wasn’t murder. It

was assault: rendering

HAL indefinitely comatose

against his will. Those

memory boxes were not

smashed—just removed to

a place where HAL could not

retrieve them. But if HAL





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Dave Bowman disconnecting HAL