Take a moment on Sunday to send your best wishes to the HAL 9000 computer, which was supposedly brought to consciousness on January 12, 1997 in Urbana, Illinois.
The film 2001: A Space Odyssey remains a wonderfully astonishing vision of the future. It’s too bad that reality is not keeping up with the fertile mind of Arthur C. Clarke, either in the realm of artificial intelligence or space travel.
Clarke is well known for coming up with ideas in his fiction that work in real life. It was he who figured out — “invented,” if you will, in 1945 — geosynchronous communications satellites, which seem to hover at just under 22,300 miles above the equator — a belt known by many in the space business as the “Clarke Orbit”.
That orbit made the communications satellite workable, and today there’s little space left there for satellites — virtually all the spaces are full!
Clarke got one thing really wrong, though: in his vision, communications satellites housed operators to make the connections! But cut him some slack: it was, after all, 1945….
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Clarke got something else wrong, too: we had no sentient computers by 1997, let alone 2007. Or commercial shuttles to gigantic space stations, or….