I Can't Let You Do That, Dave: why computer scientists should care about DRM

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For every disobedient computer there’s a workshop stacked with painful-looking tools.

And if HAL gets uppity, then, well,…


I will share this important news with as many lawyers, academics and other professionals as I can.

Smart move by Dave in that particular sequence. I don’t know if I’m dense, but I just now realized, after many viewings over the years, that Dave keeps his suit and helmet on because he may not know whether or not HAL can jettison the ship’s atmosphere, or alter it’s temperature to be incompatible with human survival.

It seems so obvious now.

Before, I thought he was just in a hurry to deactivate HAL, and didn’t want to waste the time taking off the suit.


I don’t recall now whether it was in the novel, or the follow-up book The Lost Worlds of 2001 (essentially a Making-of), but in one of them, HAL dumps the air from the ship in order to kill the hibernating crew and, presumably, make life difficult for Dave. The image of Dave being disturbed by some bubbling red liquid that turns out to be spilled jam boiling in the vacuum remains with me to this day.


When I watched it in a theater (I was 11), I understood that immediately as “holy crap! Dave is really afraid of what HAL might do”.


Does DRM work in Linux? I would think open-source would pull its fangs pretty good, no?


Great that this is in the CACM which has a readership both wide (I read it) and deep (intelligent and well informed educators and tech policy makers do also) and I hope it enters the discourse of the readers but…

unrelated to the topic

WOW that video embedded in the CACM

Max Headroom and Moiré patterns! My eyes they bleed!

In the book 2001, chapter 28 is titled “In Vacuum”. Dave Bowman starts out that chapter struggling towards an emergency shelter (sans suit) as the air leaves the ship. He gets into the suit in that shelter then goes to confront HAL. I don’t remember if it’s the same in the movie.

Hal refuses to let him back in after he goes to rescue Frank. I assume he gets the helmet after he risks space while blowing the hatch from the EVA pod to get into the open depressurized airlock.


The novel it was. I remember this scene.

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