The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cyberdyne and the immorality of modern business

There is a Japanese company called Cyberdyne which has just announced a product called HAL. Now, if you are at all well-informed about modern culture, you will recognize both those terms. That you do is, in itself, somewhat of a disgrace.

Cyberdyne is the name of the fictional company in the Terminator films, based on Harlan Ellison's story, that made the chips used in the Terminator robots. HAL is the name of the artificially intelligent computer in Arthur C Clarke's (and Stanley Kubrick's) 2001.

I find it galling that a Japanese start up firm should steal these names out of popular culture so as to trade on the familiarity and goodwill created in those names, by the true original creators of them. It strikes me as profoundly wrong. Yet they have the nerve on their site to write that HAL and Cyberdyne are trademarks and service marks of Cyberdyne Inc protected by Japanese and foreign trademark laws. Well, what about the protection under copyright laws of the true creators of these terms? How about their rights?

Cyberdyne Inc. is a company that, in moral terms, deserves to fail. There is no excuse for stealing these names from elsewhere just so as to trade on the familiarity already created in them. They could - and should - have created their own names to identify their products.

Incidentally, there is an aspect of this which they haven't thought clearly about. In stealing the Cyberdyne and HAL names they also adopt some of the subtextual baggage that comes with those terms. Cyberdyne is, in the Terminator films, ultimately responsible for the end of the world as we know it. HAL turned out to be a murderous machine. So, unknowingly or otherwise, people will have these associations with their products.

HAL stands for Hybrid Assistive Limb - and that is what it is: a robotic device to assist the movement of the weakened and physically incapable. It is based on the work of Professor Sankai of the University of Tsukuba. I wonder at that. Is his technical work as original as his verbal choices? No doubt we will find out, in time.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:47 AM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When was the company founded? Maybe it was founded before the movie came out.

I think the HAL initials of their product are meant as a joke.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Not at all. The company appears to have been started quite recently. Anyway, the story on which the Terminator films are based is very old...I wouldn't be surprised if Professor Sankai is YOUNGER than the story.

As for HAL...I don't think it is a joke. There is a pattern of behaviour with this company of trading on famous names from sci-fi literature - it is just another instance of it.

Anyway, whatever their intention, it doesn't change the fact that they are plagiarizing the work of two writers.

Best wishes

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just a big deal.furthermore,japanese makes it real,..not fantasy as the film.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

"No big deal" you say...well, if it were no big deal the Japanese firm would not have made a point of stealing the name in the first place. What they have done is steal a pre-existing brand (albeit fictional) and made it their own. Microsoft is "just a name", Gucci, Cartier and Bulgari are just names...but names that have presence in people's minds and worth too do Cyberdyne and HAL for reasons that have nothing to do with the efforts of Prof Sankai and his derivative team.

Another point: they have NOT made Cyberdyne's fictional achievements real. They have NOT made sentient robots. They have made a device to help the weakened walk easier - that is all. Yet, they are trading on another's efforts and creativity. It is immoral - and wrong in every way I can think of. Hopefully, a clever lawyer for one of the true creators' estates will sue them.

You should have more respect for people who actually create (writing is creative) and not those who steal (plagiarism is theft).

8:36 PM  

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