In 2001: A Space Odyssey, there is a scene where two astronauts go into a soundproof space capsule so the computer system HAL cannot hear them. It is shown that HAL is listening to them by watching their lips through the window. Is it really possible to lip read to that degree of accuracy? To my limited understanding, many words in English have the same lip motion. Also in the scene, only the side of the mouth is shown (no tongue) which would make it harder.

closed as off-topic by Daniel Roseman, Edlothiad, phantom42, Valorum, NKCampbell Jan 30 '18 at 14:25

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  • Don't forget that Hal has been observing these two individuals for a significant amount of time. He's had a lot of change to record and analyse their speech patterns and lip motion as individuals rather than "generic" spoken words. This should make the job significantly easier. – Jontia Jan 30 '18 at 14:16
  • the story was also written in the mid to late 60's by one of more forward thinking sci-fi authors of his day - it isn't unreasonable to think that Clarke would have posited that computers by 1999 - 2001 would be capable of such a thing – NKCampbell Jan 30 '18 at 14:26
  • @NKCampbell, that is the question, do computers currently exist that can read lips this well? – northerner Jan 30 '18 at 14:48
  • I don't know how possible it would be for a human, but I'm fairly sure it's possible for a computer with modern machine learning algorithms and cameras. (Whether it would have been possible in 1999 is another question.) However, as noted, the question is off-topic because you're asking about real-world science, and this site is about science fiction – Steve-O Jan 30 '18 at 14:50
  • and alas, that is off-topic here - maybe a better fit on ai.stackexchange.com or cstheory.stackexchange.com – NKCampbell Jan 30 '18 at 15:10