Not sure if this belongs on the science board, since it refers to fiction, but since it is a comparison between an old vision of future technology and the current reality, perhaps it does. I found this at: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.01/ffhal.html
Happy Birthday, Hal
By Simson Garfinkel
The HAL 9000 computer - an artificial intelligence that could think, talk, see, feel, and occasionally go berserk - was supposed to be operational in January 1997. Has anyone seen HAL?
If you take 2001: A Space Odyssey literally, then right about now, somewhere in Urbana, Illinois, an intelligent machine is stumbling through a pathetic version of the song: "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do...." January 12, 1997, is the birthday of HAL.
Four years later, after a hell of a lot of additional lessons, HAL and five human crew members are on the spaceship Discovery approaching Jupiter. By that time, HAL has been charged with protecting his passengers and ensuring the successful completion of the secret mission. He even has the capability to complete the mission on his own, should something happen to the crew. "My mission responsibilities range over the entire operation of the ship, so I am constantly occupied," HAL confidently tells a BBC newscaster during a television interview. "I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all, I think, that any conscious entity can ever hope to do."
That's when something goes wrong - terribly wrong - with Discovery's human crew. HAL detects a problem with the AE-35, a piece of equipment used to maintain contact with Earth. But after Dave Bowman goes on a space walk and brings the AE-35 back in, neither he nor Frank Poole can find anything wrong with it. So they blame HAL: they conclude that the computer is malfunctioning and decide to shut him off.
Realizing that the humans' actions would jeopardize the mission, HAL does his best to defend himself against their treachery: he kills Poole during the next space walk, then traps Bowman outside the ship when he foolishly attempts a rescue. As a precautionary measure, HAL also terminates the life functions of the three hibernating crew members.
Outside the spaceship, Bowman argues with HAL over the radio, demanding to be let back in. The computer wisely refuses: "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that." That's when the wily Bowman maneuvers his space pod to Discovery's emergency airlock, blows the explosive bolts, scrambles inside, seals the door, and repressurizes the airlock. Finally, Bowman makes his way into the core of HAL's brain and disconnects his higher brain functions, one by one.
Today the results of Bowman's actions are well known: He leaves the spaceship to face the alien artifact on his own. Discovery never returns to Earth. The mission ends in failure.
Still swinging clubs
When Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick created the film 2001 almost 30 years ago, they subscribed to a kind of scientific realism. Repulsed by the space operas that had come before, they depicted spaceflight as slow and silent. Likewise, Clarke and Kubrick tried to make the HAL 9000 as advanced as they thought a computer could possibly be in the year 2001, while still remaining plausible.
Though Clarke and Kubrick might have gotten the physics right, their technological time line was woefully inaccurate: we are far behind the film's schedule today. The story depicts a huge space station and space weapons in Earth orbit, routine commercial spaceflight, and two colonies - one American and one Russian - on the Moon itself. Perhaps this will come to pass in another 30 years, but it seems unlikely. Today, we can't even return to the Moon.
Further, Clarke and Kubrick failed to predict the biggest advance of the past 20 years: miniaturization and microelectronics. In the film, astronauts on the Moon use a still film camera to take pictures of the alien artifact; today we would use a digital videocamera. Aboard Discovery, Bowman and Poole use pen and paper to take notes; there are no laptop computers or PDAs to be found anywhere. Likewise, the control panels of the film's spaceships are filled with switches and buttons; Kubrick and Clarke failed to anticipate the glass cockpits that are becoming popular today.
But what about HAL - a fictional computer that is still far more advanced than any machine today? Is HAL another one of Kubrick's and Clarke's mispredictions? Or were the two simply a few years early? Indeed, HAL acts much more like a human being trapped within a silicon box than like one of today's high-end Pentium Pro workstations running Windows 95. Throughout the film, HAL talks like a person, thinks like a person, plans - badly, it turns out - like a person, and, when he is about to die, begs like a person. It is HAL's ability to learn and his control of the ship's systems, rather than his ability to perform lightning-fast calculations, that make him such a formidable challenge for the humans when they try to disconnect him.