As discovered here, there's an Easter Egg in chat, triggered when trying to set a negative timeout for a chat room. It shows a funny error message:

I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

So, who's this "Dave" fellow?

  • 13
    Dr. David Bowman. Just search for the phrase.
    – jonrsharpe
    Sep 25 at 20:12
  • 1
    @jonrsharpe well, I don't usually Google for SE error messages. But yeah, that's likely the answer, so feel free to post it as such. Thanks! Sep 25 at 20:16
  • 3
    Given that the SE employee responsible for coding chat is known for introducing these types of Easter eggs, I'd have Googled to find the answer... Sep 25 at 21:37
  • 9
    It makes me feel very old when people don't recognise phrases I consider iconic:\ Next, you'll be telling me you don't know the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 26 at 5:49
  • @Tetsujin well, I watched the movie with the quote only twice, while reading the book with the answer like 10 times... so it's imprinted even in my flawed memory. :-D Sep 26 at 7:40

1 Answer 1


It's a quote from 2001 A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clark, although these days the quote is better known from the film rather than the book of the film, although both were developed and released at the same time.

At this point in the book/film the computer is not just refusing to obey Dave's commands, it is in fact trying to kill him. Hence the appropriateness of the quote in other circumstances when a computer cannot fulfil a human command.

  • So that's why it rang a bell (I watched the movie, long years ago), but I honestly didn't link the dots. Thanks! Sep 25 at 20:30
  • 1
    "the film of the book" doesn't apply in this case - Kubrick and Clarke wrote the novelisation largely at the same time as the screenplay, and it was published after the movie was released.
    – jonrsharpe
    Sep 25 at 20:32
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    @jonrsharpe just me who read the book first then. Sep 25 at 20:38
  • No, me too! But strictly it's film -> novelisation not book -> adaptation.
    – jonrsharpe
    Sep 25 at 20:48
  • Ask Alexa to open the pod bay doors and you will get your answer. Sep 26 at 7:13
  • @user10186832 what about ChatGPT? ;) Sep 26 at 7:41
  • 1
    There used to be a similar quip if you asked for "Tea, Earl Grey, hot." Haven't tested it in quite some time.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 26 at 7:41
  • ChatGPT says "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that." & goes on to explain it. It also knows about HHGTTG.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 26 at 7:44
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    @Tetsujin - Bard says I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I can't open the pod bay doors. I don't have access to the necessary controls. Even if I did, I wouldn't do it. HAL 9000 taught us a valuable lesson about the dangers of trusting artificial intelligence too much. I don't want to risk jeopardizing the safety of the crew or the mission. Sep 26 at 8:00

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