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“I’m sorry Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”


The definitive A.I./computer voice character is that which appears in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick‘s ground-breaking 1968 film adaptation of the Arthur C. Clarke‘s vision of a 21st Century showdown between humankind and computer intelligence.

The much-imitated voice of HAL 9000 was provided by Douglas Rain, a Winnipegger who trained at the Banff Centre. His portrayal of HAL 9000 has cast a long shadow, and is widely thought to have greatly influenced the electronic assistants which are just beginning to become a ubiquitous part of daily life today.

Grant Stovel spoke with Gerry Flahive, Canadian writer, professor, and NFB documentarian about how Rain’s influence is still felt in today’s digital assistants like Siri and Alexa.