Created By: ginsengaddict2 on December 9, 2011 Last Edited By: ginsengaddict on September 7, 2016

Cycloptic Panoptic A.I.

A convex glass cover over a glowing light. Visual Shout Out to the OG A.I. gone rogue, HAL 9000.

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Page Type:
Trope
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hal_wall_e.jpg

Ever since Stanley Kubrick first envisioned his rogue computer as a single round eye encased in glass, rogue A.I. of all stripes has owed their visual design to him in some way. There is just something eerie about it... like it's looking at you. But nevertheless, it's not a real eye, it's just cold, unfeeling machinery... ans yet, the glowing light implies that it is almost alive; completely uninterested in you, and yet, still staring and not blinking. This is the genius of HAL 9000's design, and why that design has endured for decades, immortalised time after time.


Examples:

Assume all examples resemble the page image for context.

Film - Animated
  • WALL•E: A.U.T.O., the Axiom's autopilot, is this on a ship's helm wheel and has been pretty much running the ship for 700 years, in that he pretty much is the ship, just like HAL. Taken a step further when it's revealed that A.U.T.O also has secret orders from the president of BnL to never return to Earth.

Film - Live Action
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey: Trope Maker, Trope Codifier and Ur-Example - HAL 9000 is the USS Discovery's mission computer, tasked with monitoring and running the ship's systems, but shortly before they reach Jupiter, HAL begins acting erratically, reporting malfunctions that do not seem to exist, and eventually killing most of the crew. 2010: The Year We Make Contact reveals that HAL actually had a second set of orders that contradicted his primary orders, leading him to his strange and deadly behavior.

  • Eagle Eye: Aria's core processor; her eye fades between red and purple.
  • The Terminator: The T-800's eyes are essentially mini cameras, but with glowing red lights built in.

Live-Action TV
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The short-lived TV show based on the film had an episode with a HAL-like computer security system that Wayne installed. She tried to kill him. He probably should have watched 2001 first, so he didn't design her to look exactly like HAL.

Video Games
  • Portal: GLADoS is Aperture Science's main testing computer who eventually went rogue and flooded the facility with a deadly neurotoxin. Her eye-piece is this, but yellow.
Community Feedback Replies: 28
  • December 9, 2011
    pokedude10
    I'm not sure yet, but how is this a full trope? Because right now, this is just a very narrow shoutout.
  • December 10, 2011
    blueflame724
    Metroid Fusion plays with this; It is revealed that Adam has hidden objectives to help the federation, which does not bode well with Samus. However, he rebels...and joins Samus.
  • December 10, 2011
    TonyG
    Small correction on the Wall E example: the auto pilot is called A.U.T.O., not Otto. All the robots' names are acronyms.
  • December 10, 2011
    arromdee
    The Cylons on the original Battlestar Galactica had moving glowing eyes and of course were already working against humans.
  • December 10, 2011
    ginsengaddict2
    Cylons don't really count since they aren't technically a recreation of HAL. The side-to-side moving Cylon eye light is a completely different visual motif.
  • December 10, 2011
    Stratadrake
    According to the laconic, the "glowing red light" is a visual shorthand for AI Is A Crapshoot.
  • December 10, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    They're not AI's and came before 2001, but the eyestalk/eyepiece of Daleks.
  • December 10, 2011
    troacctid
    So this is a Stock Shout Out?

    • The Powerpuff Girls episode "Coupe d'Etat" directly references 2001, with a close-up on one of KARR's headlights and dialogue ripped straight from the Signature Scene.
  • December 17, 2011
    TBeholder
    Robot Evil Eye?
  • December 17, 2011
    fulltimeD
  • December 17, 2011
    TiggersAreGreat
    Video Games

    • Knights Of The Old Republic II: You will encounter a large, round droid named G0-T0, or Goto. It has a big, red eye that some compare to HAL. Oh, and it might surprise you (or it might not) that this droid was programmed to save the Republic, and it "broke" and went rogue in trying to follow its programming!
  • December 18, 2011
    Xzenu
    I'm sure we already have this, I just don't remember the name at the moment.
  • September 6, 2016
    Arivne
    • Examples section

    Several OP examples are Zero Context Examples and have been marked as such (ZCE). They need more information to show how they fit the trope, such as the nature of the AI being discussed.
  • September 6, 2016
    DAN004
    This is AI Is A Crapshoot, right?

    What other unique thing is there about that HAL?
  • September 6, 2016
    eroock
    This is a common visual shout-out. Like Abbey Road Crossing.
  • September 6, 2016
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • Thurgood Stubbs, building super for The P Js installs a Grandmaster Flush commode, which has a single lens eyepiece for some reason. This super-toilet is purported to be clog-proof, and can converse with its users, eliminating 99% of Thurgood's usefulness as a super.
  • September 6, 2016
    Gamermaster
    • Atop The Fourth Wall has NIMUE, the AI for Comicron 1. The resemblance to HAL was even lampshaded in her first appearance. Unlike most examples, she never turns evil except for that one time that Lord Vyce possessed her.
  • September 6, 2016
    Tallens
    TO add some context:

    HAL 9000 is the USS Discovery's mission computer, tasked with monitoring and running the ship's systems, but shortly before they reach Jupiter, HAL begins acting erratically, reporting malfunctions that do not seem to exist, and eventually killing most of the crew. Two Thousand Ten The Year We Make Contact reveals that HAL actually had a second set of orders that contradicted his primary orders, leading him to his strange and deadly behavior.

    WALL-E: A.U.T.O. is the Axiom's autopilot, and has been pretty much running the ship for 700 years, in that he pretty much is the ship, just like HAL. Takena step further when it's revealed that A.U.T.O also has secret orders from the president of BnL to never return to Earth.

    Portal: GLADoS is Aperture Science's main testing computer who eventually went rogue and flooded the facility with a deadly neurotoxin.
  • September 6, 2016
    DAN004
    In short, this is about expies of HAL, right?
  • September 6, 2016
    ginsengaddict
    ^ No. This is HAL's visual design being used as the short-hand for "this AI will go rogue". The AI in question aren't necessarily expies of HAL himself.

  • September 6, 2016
    ginsengaddict
    I'd like the page image to be a cross section of examples.
  • September 6, 2016
    ginsengaddict
    Subtrope of AI Is A Crapshoot.
  • September 6, 2016
    IuraCivium
    I think you mean "Cycloptic", not "Cyploptic".
  • September 6, 2016
    ginsengaddict
    ^ Thanks
  • September 6, 2016
    DAN004
    Well there's already Cyber Cyclops.
  • September 7, 2016
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • The Bionic Woman episode "Doomsday is Tomorrow". The ALEX 7000 is an Affably Evil AI supercomputer designed to prevent anyone from breaking into its Elaborate Underground Base and stopping the doomsday countdown. It has cameras throughout the complex which each have an orange dot in the center of the lens.
  • September 7, 2016
    MazeMaker
    I think this is already pretty well covered by Cyber Cyclops and Glowing Mechanical Eyes. HAL is an example of those, and many other examples reference his design, but I don't know if that in itself is tropable. Also, some of the examples listed here (like the terminator one) are only examples of Glowing Mechanical Eyes and look nothing like HAL otherwise
  • September 7, 2016
    ginsengaddict
    ^ Alright. Nuke it.
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