Speaking of Arthur C. Clarke (last post), something else of his came to mind today as I was using my iPhone. Clarke’s law states that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It is also a fact, I think, that something of the reverse is true. I might say, “Any sufficiently advanced technology that has come into everyday use is rapidly considered mundane.”
So, here I am, holding a highly advanced and miniaturized computer in the palm of my hand. Visions of the future from not that long ago cannot match the reality of this device.
It has an extremely high resolution, full color image screen. It can access information from anywhere in the world almost instantly and connect me to anyone in the world who has even minimal technology like a telephone. I can shoot broadcast television video in HD into a digital memory chip with no moving parts. I can play stupid games on it. I can find the cheapest gas station near me and see my house from outer space.
I popped up the science news list and these actual stories were first in line today:
“Asteroid Threat to Earth Sparks Global ‘NEOShield Project”
“Alien worlds abound! NASA scope finds 26 alien planets”
“Robotic Russian Supply Ship Docks at Space Station”
“Life in ocean ‘blue holes’ studied . . .
. . . could give clues to what types of marine life might be found on distant planets and moons. . .”
“Two teens send a Lego man into near space”
“Mining the moon isn’t as easy as it sounds”
“Nuclear fusion in the future? New laser could hold the answers”
Now, wait a minute. How did this happen without someone making a very loud announcement saying, “Hey everybody! Remember our promises of a magical, science fiction future? . . . IT’S HERE!!”
Perhaps we would not have heard such an announcement anyway, with our earbuds in and our noses buried in a glowing crystal between our fingers.
Well, I have to go now. There’s an old Flash Gordon serial on YouTube I wanted to watch.
On my mundane hand-held science fiction computer technology device.
When I made this piece some years ago and named it “The Sentinel,” I had forgotten that was the name of the original 1948 Arthur C. Clarke short story that was the inspiration for his 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not exactly the same geometries, but still apropos, I think.
“It was only a matter of time before we found the pyramid and forced it open. Now its signals have ceased, and those whose duty it is will be turning their minds upon Earth. Perhaps they wish to help our infant civilization. But they must be very, very old, and the old are often insanely jealous of the young.”
– Arthur C. Clarke, The Nine Billion Names Of God, “The Sentinel” , (New York: Signet – Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1974) p. 227.
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