Susan Morrison: Spaceships can wait, my phone talks to my car

'˜WHAT are you doing, Dave?' is a chilling question, especially when spoken by a murderous on-board computer who has already smothered the hibernating crew of the Discovery One and pinged another one out an airlock.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 26th February 2016, 9:46 am
Updated Saturday, 5th March 2016, 3:59 am
File picture: ESA/AFP
File picture: ESA/AFP

It didn’t end well, did it? The surviving astronaut, without a second thought for the warranty, ripped open the case and started messing about with the circuits.

Believe me, if that was an Apple product, poor Dr David Bowman would have been left sobbing in deep space whilst some shiny young acolyte of Jobs explained his gizmo had been Error 53’d and he’d have to buy a whole new spaceship to get home.

Poor old HAL went into software meltdown and started singing Daisy, Daisy like the sort of contestant the floor managers put on X Factor just to watch Simon Cowell go into full front facial sneer.

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To be honest, the minute Hal got the Ctrl+Alt+Delete treatment, the entire film went bonkers anyway, hitting levels of pretentiousness unmatched until Kubrick made another film.

If only the mission managers for Discovery One had pre-loaded the sort of friendly computer that the USS Enterprise could count on, things might have been so different. Well, we wouldn’t have had to sit through that terrible ending for a start. But even she had her moments, as I recall, and let’s not forget Skynet becoming sentient, declaring war on the whole human race and ensuring victory by building an entire army of right-wing robots, some of whom seem to have turned rogue and are currently campaigning to become the next president of the United States.

HAL, Skynet, the Matrix. We’ve always known they can’t be trusted. Once those things start figuring out that the soft bodies that built them can’t compete with the software inside their hardware, we’re out the airlock, my friends.

People, the rise of the machines has begun. The new car speaks to my mobile phone.

They blew their cover last week, when I was driving home late one night. I am fond of listening to Radio Four as I drive. The programmes can be genuinely interesting, such as A Good Read, or baffling, like The Archers, which always seems to be on, although I must admit I have learned a great deal about non-grazing dairy production.

Occasionally it’s something that drives me mad with fury. It’s usually a self-indulgent Middle England drone fest.

This last category usually involves poetry or a philosopher whingeing on for 30 minutes about the meaning of the word “percolator”.

Admittedly even this rubbish has its uses during long drives through the night to get home, because nothing wakes you up like roaring abuse at the radio for half an hour without a break.