In Passengers when a passenger wakes from hibernation sleep, they are greeted with an orientation program. It states that they are only months from their destination and told to do what ever it is to recover from the hibernation.

But when he goes to the planetarium like room, the program there explains that they have been travelling for about 30 years and have 90 to go.

OK, what I don't understand.

So, why does the orientation programs in the pod AND the first training program carry on like there is nothing wrong?

Considering the following;

  • All programs were interactive and had some level of AI. ie, when the program calls him James and he corrects it to say Jim, also in the training group it could recognize when Jim puts his arm up to ask a question.
  • It would be hard to put this down to damage from the collision, being that the pod was affected and opened early, that would be plausible, but the teach program in the training group seemed to be a completely different area. Not to mention the fact that it took a long time before even a few programs started to malfunction, due to the main computer applying patches to keep things running correctly.
  • The bar tender knew that they were only 30 years into the flight.
  • The ships computer seemed as though it was one big unit throughout the ship, due controlling things like who could order what and who could go where on the ship. Not to mention, that anywhere he was on the ship he was able to be identified. So surely every program had access to the same information as to not cause confusion amount the passengers.

So how was this possible for the orientation programs to not know they were only 30 years into the trip?

  • 2
    I would imagine the orientation program is automated, it would do what it was supposed to. Wasting AI on something everyone needs the same way wouldn't make sense.
    – Craqgerbil
    Jul 4, 2017 at 15:46
  • 3
    Why doesn't my microwave oven know that its clock is wrong? It's in the same house as my phone...
    – Valorum
    Jul 4, 2017 at 15:47
  • 1
    And besides the bartender didn't know either until Starlo.. I mean Jim brought it up.
    – Craqgerbil
    Jul 4, 2017 at 16:00
  • I'm not sure there can be a coherent answer given that the movie is famous for its internal inconsistencies. Why have a routine for informing passengers who are supposed to be sleeping that there's a scenic view of a passing star? Why can Jim eat at fancy restaurants when he can't get better food at the cafeteria? If no one can be awake to get into the bridge, why is it locked? If there's no mechanism to put a passenger back into suspended animation because's never needed, then why is there such a mechanism in sickbay? Jul 4, 2017 at 21:38
  • @jeffronicus - The ship is a cruise ship, it's passenger area AI (as opposed to the ship's control AI) is probably programmed to tell passengers about every interesting event it sees. The cafeteria food may be "free" to passengers based on their status level, while the dinner was pay as you go, and those dinners meant he was accumulating huge debt that would need to be paid back to the company. The auto-doc hibernation may not be the compatible with the hibernation-bed hibernation and was meant only to hold a critically ill patient in suspended animation for a limited time.
    – Johnny
    Oct 1, 2017 at 6:28

1 Answer 1


Different processes on the ship have different levels of automation.

OK, maybe all of them have some level of AI, but the basic orientation programs are meant to be the same for everyone. There's no point in programming them to compute the amount of time that's actually passed, since the pods are only programmed to open when the ship is a few months from its destination - it would be a waste of programming power. Someone waking up early is a situation which these programs literally can't envisage.

The planetarium and the bartender, on the other hand, are specifically programmed to respond in real time to different requests from people. The planetarium displays information according to verbal commands, and the bartender needs to be able to process new information quickly and intelligently enough to pass at least semi-convincingly for a human.

Even if they're all hooked up to a single central ship computer, that computer doesn't send all of its information to all of its constituent parts, nor are all of those parts equally 'intelligent'. Why bother wasting high levels of information, AI, and real-time response abilities on a simple program that should never need them anyway?

  • 1
    A more pertinent question might be "why are any of the ship's processes able to cope with someone waking up early?" Seems like it would make more sense for everything to be completely dormant and unresponsive until, say, a year before the arrival time. Since nobody is supposed to wake up early (ahem), it's a waste of energy to make all the processes able to respond to someone who does. (Although I suspect the answer to that question would just be "because otherwise there wouldn't be a story".)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 4, 2017 at 17:44
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    I'd disagree that there wouldn't be a story. It would be a different story more like the Martian in space. Unless of course shutting the ship down also cut off the air. But it also maybe that cracking open a pod initiates a systems start - that would be the sort of failsafe I'd write into some automation.
    – Peter M
    Jul 4, 2017 at 18:22
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    Starting up a system that has been idle for years is not a trivial task. Given an adequate energy supply, it might well make more sense to just leave everything running. Jul 5, 2017 at 1:17
  • It's possible that the ship's systems 'awoke' in response to a passenger awaking. There was a film about another ship that woke its hibernating crew early in response to an event - the Nostromo...
    – Steve Ives
    Jul 5, 2017 at 11:46

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