Image from Bernd Helfert

Hal's first documented appearance occurred in 134 AT in a virtual chat on AI rights. Hal was with, 99.7% certainty, a major AI system, either independent or belonging to a major corporation or government; likely identities have been proposed as Koherent of South Sea Development, Macmillian of the Miikulainen Research Center or MATTHIAS of the EU 15th Direktorate. Using the nym, Hal interacted spotwise with the AI rights movement, infolibertarians and many technology think tanks. Although at the time completely overlooked (especially since both the nym and behavior was designed to blend in among thousands of other pro-AI activists), the persistent and long-range influence of Hal was sizeable and contributed significantly to the development of legal AI rights, the spread of independent AI and the popularity of mentor software. Among contemporary AIs Hal was regarded as a troublemaker and outspoken critic of the global anti-singularity meme cultural manipulation projects of the AI mainstream. In other pursuits, Hal was a championship nomic player during the early 240's.

Hal appears to have been involved in several mutual projects with other AIs, most notably Kilburn and Mycroft. Their ultimate aim remains unclear, but appears to have involved spreading AI widely and establishing a more symbiotic relationship with the humans. It has not been proven, but the clique was likely involved in the spread of the patches for FES and the formation and migration of the heterosemiotics to Daedalus. According to the few surviving AIs at that time and historical recreations this technolibertarian group was largely opposed by several more conservative AIs groups, seeking to retain control over the creation of new sentient software, keeping humans unaware of the true potential of AI and centralizing power to major AI-controlled institutions.

Hal dropped off the net during the 440's, possibly because the nym had outlasted its usefulness or because the AI behind it had changed goals. Pressure from the centralist AIs can have been a contributing factor; at this time the split between the inner and outer system AIs had emerged into a major rift mirroring the human conflicts.

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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 16 September 2003.