Innovation

Dave? What are you doing, Dave? The legacy of Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke was one of the greatest science fiction writers of his time, giving us characters like the HAL 9000 to stand as a cautionary tale in the way that we depend on computing as an aide. Science fiction reaches beyond the page in many ways. In this case, it touches the Space Shuttle.

If you are like me, you have been doing IT since "forever." And like me, you recall the things that drew you in.

For me, it was seeing the expanse that was (at that time) what the human mind could encompass. It was beautiful to me then. It is beautiful to me now.

Mr. Clarke gave me hope for what I might see develop in my lifetime and continued to give me hope when we limited beings of a small planet called Earth screwed up time and again.

The passing of Arthur C. Clarke is the end of an era. It is to me. My whole business life was based on his input.

Mr. Clarke wrote of great things that technology would one day do.

From the Washington Post:

The most famous example is from 1945, when he first proposed the idea of communications satellites that could be based in geostationary orbits, which keep satellites in a fixed position relative to the ground.

Some scoffed, but the idea was proved almost a generation later with the launch of Early Bird, the first of the commercial satellites that provide global communications networks for telephone, television and high-speed digital communication. The orbit is now named Clarke Orbit by the International Astronomical Union.

"He had influenced the world in the best way possible," writer Ray Bradbury said in Neil McAleer's 1992 book "Arthur C. Clarke: The Authorized Biography." "Arthur's ideas have sent silent engines into space to speak in tongues. His fabulous communications satellite ricocheted about in his head long before it leaped over the mountains and flatlands of the Earth."

In addition to his books, he wrote more than 1,000 short stories and essays. One of his short stories, "Dial F for Frankenstein" (1964), inspired British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee to invent the World Wide Web in 1989.

Arthur C. Clarke forced me to think in ways that were unconventional for my time. This was inconvenient, as I was a young woman interested in technology long before it was cool. By his example, I chose to be unconventional in how I lived.

From the business perspective, I was able to think "outside of the box" about the solutions that really fit the needs; and had the cautionary tale of a governing computer that could kill in the back of my mind.

Indeed, it was that scenario along with others that defined the requirement for the multiple fail-over system of the first Space Shuttles. Back then , there were five independent, yet networked, computers on board. The concept was that if one concluded something different that the others, the others could shut it down. I believe that on a 3-2 split, the disagreeing computers re-ran the exercise. Dave was safe.

Clarke's law pertains today, and always -- "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

What did you glean from Arthur C. Clark that you regard as a part of your business knowledge?

36 comments
Slvrknght
Slvrknght

I was rather struck by his passing when I read about it. Looking back on his career, it may be a long time before we can see exactly how far seeing this man was. If I may use a word associated with one of the other greats; it will be a long time before we grok all of it.

goncerna
goncerna

Con no pocas traducciones al espa??ol es admirado y querido por aquellos que, iniciandose en el estudio de las obras contempor??neas de ciencia-ficci??n, buscan primero entre autores cuyas publicaciones han trascendido el muro de las consciencias, no porque llegaran algunas al cine, el cual desmerece, verdaderamente a la obra literaria, sino por la imaginer??a y la originalidad con que nos transporta a su concepci??n de las cosas en t??rminos de utop??as y realismos encontrados. As??, es posible encontrar en sus obras, m??s all?? de la que todos conocemos por default, una aut??ntica expresi??n de su trabajo creativo, libre por completo de los arquetipos que muestra la ciencia-ficci??n m??s socorrida, cuyos patrones dram??ticos se corresponden con los mismos que subsisten y que muchos quisieran "eternizar" a??n teniendo que cambiar las estructuras para no perder su poder pol??tico o econ??mico sin que puedan concebir que es en el cambio, en las innovaciones y en la esperanza misma donde vienen los resultados en favor de todos, de modo que los unos ganen porque todos ganamos.As?? ha sido mi pensamiento p??stumo acerca de este norteamericano que, para fortuna nuestra, encontr?? con tantos a??os de reflexi??n y dedicaci??n, la paz que, como los grandes, reciben con la mayor??a de edad. Seguramente trascender?? por largos a??os su presencia virtuosa. Que en la Paz del Se??or disfrute pronto de la visi??n suprema del acontecer futuro en la Tierra. Falta mucho, mucho, mucho m??s por vivir a??n.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

He's got an 'other' out there some place.

dawgit
dawgit

The Mother Ship. May his journey be as wondrous as his legacy. -d

BlackKris
BlackKris

Clarke wasn't merely intelligent; he was able to express his ideas in such a way ( the story format ) that led many people whom might not otherwise read of his ideas because they might have been published in a scientific journal instead of his wonderful books.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I can't point to any single effect Dr. Clarke had on my work habits. Science fiction in general has influence my approach to problem solving and technological change. Along with the likes of Heinlein, Asimov, Campbell, Simak, he raised the genre from bug-eyed little green men to stories rooted in the impact of scientific advancement on human life. "A Fall of Moondust" remains one of my favorites, along with "The Nine Billion Names of God".

galtroarc
galtroarc

He was a sufficiently advanced human being...

Tig2
Tig2

For me, the passing of Arthur C. Clarke is the end of an era that opened with an open command to think outside of, not just the box, but the universe itself. Today, I find that I continue to go back to his stories and find new things in them to appreciate. Science fiction writers have had a unique ability to inspire us to new thinking. New thinking has inspired us to stretch to new heights and make the imaginable mundane. My father worked on the Space Shuttle- a bird that used redundant computing for problem resolution. Similar to the HAL 9000 concept but with a key difference. On the Shuttle, there were five computers that had to agree on a solution before action could be taken. A rogue would be shut out. Perhaps the designers saw the caution signs of Arthur C. Clarke.

zarathustra2010
zarathustra2010

We all must "pass" friend. Only God knows "how far-seeing this man was." Mr. Clarke did no more than have an imagination, something we all have. To elevate him to the point of a "prophet" is hateful to both his memory, and to reality. BTW, the word "grok", as used by Mr. Heinlein in "Stranger in a Strange Land", has a "spiritual" meaning, not a "natural" one." Either one can "grok" something or not is irrelevant to the amount of knowledge one has. Replace the word "grok" with "intuition", along with the Elizabethan English understaning of the verb "to know" (as in "to have intimate spiritual and carnal knowledge" of someone), and you will be closer to understanding his use of the word. The fact is, in the novel, only Mike could bring someone to the place of being able to "grok", and for a simple reason: He had intimate experience with the Martians themselves(who made no distiction between this life and the next), and because of this, was able to pass the skill on to others. i.e., The word "Grok" has more to do with "revelation" than with "accurate knowledge", since one either "grokked" something, or he did not. His girlfriends (and boyfriends) could NOT "grok" one minute, and COULD, the next, after a few sessions of sexual relations with Mike. For this reason, I believe the word has much to do with sexual expression, and little to do with gaining bits of knowledge. At least it does for human beings. What the Martians think about it is kind of up in the air, since they probably only existed in RAH's now-dead imagination anyway.

Tig2
Tig2

With few translations to Spanish it is not admired and wanted by which, beginning in the study of new (?) works contemporary of science-fiction, they look for first between authors whose publications have extended the wall of the consciences, not because some arrived at the cinema, which is inferior, truely to the literary work, but by imagination to and the originality whereupon it transports to his conception of the things in t??rminos of utop? found ace and realistic (?). As, is possible to find in its works, m s all which all we know by default, a authentic expression of its creative work, frees completely of the archetypes that m s shows to science-fiction aided, whose ticos patrons dram correspond with such which they subsist and that many wanted "to eternal" an having to change the structures not to lose their tico or economic power pol without they can conceive that it is in the change, the innovations and the same hope where the results in all come please, so that they win because all ganamos.As has been my thought p stumo about this North American that, for fortune ours, encontr with so many aos of reflection and dedication, La Paz that, like the great ones, receives with mayor to of age. Surely trascender by aos lengths its virtuous presence. That in La Paz of the Seor it enjoys vision supreme of future occurring in the Earth soon. Lack much, much, m s to live an much. Because the poster used punctuation that didn't post well, some parts were not translatable.

zarathustra2010
zarathustra2010

How do you know he left the earth? After all, he was a lifetime atheist. I doubt seriously whether he went UP when he "gave up the ghost." There is no room for atheists in Heaven, friend. Donald L McDaniel

Neil Higgins
Neil Higgins

watching 2001 for the first time,although not during it's first screening in 1968,but many years later.Even now,it is still cinema photography ahead of it's time.Directed by Stanley Kubrick,some of the "space-plane" shots were amazing.Gravity boots anyone? Testament indeed to Clarke's fertile imagination. Arthur C.Clarke led from the front as far as sci-fi writing was concerned.He will be missed.RIP Arthur.Your journey has just begun.

zarathustra2010
zarathustra2010

This is what people say who are unable to understand what the writer says. While Mr. Clarke may have had "brains" (actually, we ALL 'have brains'), he had absolutely NO WISDOM. Intelligence without the wisdom to USE that intelligence properly is a sure-fire way of getting idiots on top of the heap. The Bible tells us, "The FOOL has said in his own heart, 'There is no God.' ". While Mr. Clarke may have been intelligent, he was UNWILING to give the credit to his Creator, Who gave him the intelligence. When he died, he was an avowed atheist. Because of this foolishness, he did NOT go to a nice place after he died. Personally, I would rather know where I'm going after I die, rather than have all the useless knowledge I gained during this life. Let's face it, friends: There will be NO NEED for ANY of our "book smarts" in the next world. Donald L McDaniel

dave.schutz
dave.schutz

My god..it's filled with stars! The man was a genius.

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

I will miss his books and wish more had been made into screen plays. A prime example was 2001. Many more could have made the realm of movie classics. Along with Isaac Asimov he is at the top of the list of all time greats.

Jaqui
Jaqui

by Keith Laumer in his Bolos series of novels / short stories. these self aware tanks, fusion powered, energy weapons had 5 processors for conflict resolution because of the Hal 9000 incident in 2001 A Space Oddessy. :D Both the shuttles and the Bolo stories came into being around the same time. It is the sad end of an era, for everyone, without reguard of their awareness of it or lack of awareness.

Slvrknght
Slvrknght

Grok, if we want to get technical, is the martian word "to drink." And when Mike tries to describe it, the closest anyone comes is that it is a complete and total understanding of a thing. To "grok" something is to know and understand it in its entirety. I wasn't talking about Clarke physically, I was talking about the breadth of his understanding of the human mind and its capabilities. You're a sad individual if you can't see that this man's imagination was far greater than most peoples. Just in the way that a great artist can paint a picture and we can appreciate its beauty, or a great musician can create a brilliant music composition. We all, technically, have the ability to appreciate these things and maybe even copy them, but not everyone has the ability to plumb the depth of their abilities to produce them. And I never called him a prophet. But, now that you mention it, to disparage his imagination in such a way is also an insult. P.S. Grok: 1. To have an intuitive understanding of; to know (something) without having to think (such as knowing the number of objects in a collection without needing to count them). 2. To fully and completely understand something in all its details and intricacies.

simon
simon

(While my Spanish is not really all that good, here is my attempt at a translation, which mostly makes sense, I hope) With more than a few translations into Spanish he is admired and loved by those who, starting to study contemporary works of science-fiction, first search amongst authors whose publications have transcended the wall of consciousness, not because some have reached the cinema which is truly not worthy of literary work, but for the imagination and originality which transports us to his concept of things in terms of utopias and realities encountered. Thus it is possible to find in his works, more so than in those we know by default, an authentic expression of his creative labour, completely free of the archetypes displayed by more hackneyed science-fiction, whose cinematic bosses are the same who exist now and many would like to preserve forever, although having to change structures in order not to lose their political or economic power, without conceiving that it is by change, by innovation, and by hope itself that results are achieved which are favourable to everybody, such that some people gain in order that everybody gains. These have been my thoughts after his death, about this American who, fortunately for us, like great men after so many years of reflection and dedication, met with the peace due to old age. Surely his virtuosity will trancend thoughout many years. May he soon enjoy the supreme vision of the future of the World, in the Peace of the Lord. We need still many, many, many more (like him?)

JohnWarfin
JohnWarfin

Oh well- if Arthur C. Clarke's spirit simply dissipated here on earth because it couldn't make it to heaven- I'm quite happy for the possibility of it being absorbed by the survivors down here. Having one's important thoughts endure a few years or forever in the memories of the living- those who can still respond to the influence- seems a pretty great 'hereafter'. The post-death survival of people's motivatingly good works reveals the spiritual legitimacy of the Atheist's motives for a life well-lived. Death has no dominion for those who only value life. Onward. Do well.

dawgit
dawgit

Parts of his body containing his DNA are to be placed in space for future exploration. As for those who still think in terms of limitations, they can't understand, or truely apprieciate the Universe anyway. -d dawgit

dawgit
dawgit

(He prefered the term Science Fantasy Writer.) Arthur C. Clarke described Geo-Stationary Communication Satelites in 1945, a decade before the "Space Age". He claimed some of his ideas were not to be concievable until 50 years after they stopped laughing. Fantastic fellow, a true Gentleman. -d

karen
karen

I find it by turns either amusing or sad that every intelligent conversation lately seems to devolve into this kind of religious posturing. You have your beliefs and they work for you. Great. This does not give you the right or privilege to judge the beliefs of others or even their lack of belief. I believe your good book says quite a bit about how humans are in no position to judge one another, yet that seems to be all that the religious right are able to concern themselves with. Concentrate on perfecting yourself and living up to your own lofty ideals and leave worrying about the state of other people's faith to them.

Slvrknght
Slvrknght

Why is it that people feel that belief in God is the only way to go to heaven? I bet you're one of those people who agree with the idea Dante had that virtuous pagans and unbaptized babies wind up in hell. I, for one, think that fundamentalists of any religion are what is really forcing people away from a belief in the Almighty. They have such a narrow and unyielding view that they attack those people who have actually thought their beliefs through and come to their own personal understanding of God. I admit that Mr. Clarke was an atheist, but there's nothing in his life that makes me think that he did anything necessary to wind up in Hell. Did he murder children? Did he steal from anyone? Did he attempt to force people to his viewpoint? I hardly doubt it. God is the ultimate judge of all, not us. So keep your bible thumping to yourself and let us remember a man that showed us there are always greater possibilities.

simon
simon

... I enjoyed doing it, and I felt that perhaps it was my own personal way of paying tribute to a great writer who has given me great pleasure in my younger days. Anyhow, here is my attempt at translating your last post Jose, I hope it is even half-way decent, although I'm sure it must be better than blowfish! (Loved that suggestion, btw!) -“as Clarke himself would have said, the automatic translator cannot replace, or could ever have, the human touch of one who rightly understood, during the synaptic spark in his brain when he decided so to enrich the transcription”... how to express more in English what I am thinking in Spanish. A thousand thanks, and respectful greetings from North Mexico. JOSE ...... -

goncerna
goncerna

Yes, like him. I must thank you for this refinated job of translation. Now little bit more: "como habr?a dicho el mismo Clarke, el traductor automata no puede reemplazar, ni lo hara, nunca, el toque humano de aquel que percibio justamente, durante el chispazo de la sinapsis en su cerebro cuando asi decidio enriquecer la transcripcion"... tratare de expresar mas en ingles lo que pienso en espanol. Mil gracias y un respetuoso saludo desde Mexico del Norte. JOSE A. GONCERNA.-

Jaqui
Jaqui

Concider babelfish the "state of the art" in computer generated text. really makes one wonder what garbage that other systems are producing, the code generators used by rad devlopers being the prime suspect in bad text genertion. ]:)

Jaqui
Jaqui

babelfish be called suckfish or blowfish? ]:)

Tig2
Tig2

Unfortunately, my Spanish is not so good but I know where to find Babelfish. Obviously, Babelfish is limited. I appreciate that you took the time to provide a better translation. It seemed that the OP had something of importance to say. From your translation, I can see that he did.

zarathustra2010
zarathustra2010

Let's think about that for a minute: "Death has no dominion for those who only value life..." Is this true? Hmmmm. Then, by your reasoning, Jesus (who raised the dead) ultimately valued "death" over life? (since even he died.) Since Jesus is the Eternally-begotten Son of the Eternal Father, He is God Himself. Yet even HE suffered the Death all men suffer. Yet ultimately, death had no dominion over him, since He was raised from the dead by His Father. That Atheists "only value life" is rather strange, considering how much they contribute to the deaths of the human race. Lets look at a few notable "Atheists": 1) Right off hand, I can name ONE Atheist who valued death more than life: The late Mr. Hitler. I can think of another one: The late Mr. Vladimir I. Lenin. How about his successor, Mr J. Stalin. I can think of a few more notable "Life loving Atheists" who died. How about Mr. F. Nietzsche? Can YOU think of a few MORE of these "life-loving Atheists"? They're all around us, in our Universities, teaching our elementary students, controlling the world (or so they think). By the way, WHICH Of these "life-loving atheists" rose from the Dead, to PROVE that it has no dominion over them? NONE. PERIOD. Yet Christ Himself DID rise from the dead. Thus proving to the world that non-atheists who put their trust in God will have no fear of "Death's dominion." Men are in bondage to sin( Yes, SIN) for a simple reason: Satan has them bound by their OWN FEAR of death. BTW, while your "good works" MAY survive your death, YOU WON'T. So much for ideological interpretations of DEATH. There is no such thing as "post-death survival". We die, and turn into the dust from which we came. The ONLY "place" YOU (or anyone) will "survive" after death is in the Mind of God. If He chooses to reward you for your good works, HE WILL RAISE you from the Dead by joining the spirit he put in you (and which was returned to Him when you died) to your reconstituted body. THEN, you MAY survive your death. Otherwise, I wouldn't count on it, friend.

karen
karen

Do you speak German? I would venture to say that it takes quite a bit of intelligence to be able to carry on an advanced conversation in your non-native language at all. Could you speak at his level in another language? I find it interesting that you say you are here to give everyone else "instruction." Just what exactly are you hoping to teach by your behavior here? That Christians are judgemental and like to insult those who fail to agree with them? From what I know of the bible (granted I am not a believer), Jesus generally liked to embrace those that society shunned and show them forgiveness and mercy. Those he most detested were the pharisees (sic) who spent their time judging others for failing to obey the law. What would he think of your attitude here? Would he think you were representing him appropriately? This is the sort of discourse that helped to push me away from Christianity. I believe true wisdom can come only from humility and from listening to others and trying to understand. Above all else, what exactly does any of this have to do with a brilliant Scifi author or his death other than that his death is being used by some as a podium for them to attempt to push their own views? "Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes."

zarathustra2010
zarathustra2010

I must correct my use of the word "dawgit", since that was not the child's name in the original B.G. It was actually "Daggit", not "Dawgit". For this reason, I must apologize to him (and the writers of the old series.) Mr. Clarke was a great SciFi writer. NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS. That he came up with concepts which have been put into use in this century is good, but not godlike. Even Mr. Verne came up with a few good ideas. IN a few years, he will be forgotten as anything more than a page in the History of the English language. He was a great writer, but there were many great SciFi writers from his generation. There will be such writers in this generation. He was no greater than any of the others. My youth was spent reading the "greats". When I discovered "Reality", I stopped reading SciFi, since "Reality" is so much better. It's good to have an active imagination. But it's also a bad thing, if not used properly. Men's imaginations have come up with weapons which may destroy the Earth one day, and tools which may feed the hungry multitudes. How do YOU want to use your imagination?

zarathustra2010
zarathustra2010

I assumed that "dawgit" was German when I responded to him. Considering that English is taught as a primary language in German schools, his ignorance of it just shows how ignorant he really is. I also doubt that he was "considering his post from a theological viewpoint." BTW, while this particular forum is "international", as you say, WE who cannot understand German could never read their posts, could we? So, we who write in Engish DO have a similar frame of reference: The ENGLISH LANGUAGE. You might not like that, but it is true, nonetheless. IF Mr. Dawgit wants to communicate with those who speak and write English, he must speak and write English, not German. The MINUTE he wrote his FIRST sentence in English, he took on OUR frame of Reference, and we who respond in English take on the SAME frame of reference. Whether his name is derived from the old "Battlestar Galactica" is irrelevant to the subject. Whether the late Messers. Clarke and Heinlein did make such arrangements or not are also irrelevant to Dawgit's post, since he got the truth completely wrong. Sending DNA into space and sending pieces of a body into space are two entirely different things. Dawgit chose to over-romanticize the subject, and claimed that "pieces of his body were to be sent "into space". I called him out on it, and did my best to de-romanticize it. The facts are, where we go or don't go after death is NOT a subject for scientific inquiry or discussion, since the spirit of man is NOT visible or otherwise tangible. I am trying to show this by placing the conversation in its proper perspective: a SPIRITUAL point of view, rather than a "scientific" one. However, Mr. Dawgit is no Christian. I presume he is an atheist, like most who post in this forum. He, as well as all others who post here, need a little instruction in "reality", rather than "pseudo-science". I am always happy and ready to give such instruction to foolish men. Of course, the Book of Proverbs tells us to NOT try to instruct fools. I guess I've always been a little rebellious and hopeful, since I was such a fool for many years myself. If I can be taught, anyone can be taught, since I'm one of the more stubborn ones.

Tig2
Tig2

Dawgit is in Stuttgart. He is not a native English speaker/writer, he is German. And his nickname is not derived from Battlestar Galactica. Knowing Dawgit for many years, I seriously doubt that he was considering his post from a theological viewpoint. If I recall correctly, it was one of Mr. Clarke's last wishes to send some of his DNA into space. I seem to recall that Heinlein arranged something similar when he passed. As this is an international board, I never assume that someone I am responding to has my frame of reference.

zarathustra2010
zarathustra2010

I'm glad you didn't, either. There are enough idiots who think that "directions" are "relative" to each other. I'm also glad you didn't repeat "dawgit's" statement about parts of the late Mr. Clarke's body being placed in orbit around the Earth "to be used for future space exploration." What a strange way to use someone's body! Let his body rest, for God's sake!!" Personally, the thought of floating frozen body parts somewhere in "space" is kind of creepy, no matter whose body-parts they are. Although, we could have a whole new subject for a SciFi series: "Legs...in... Space!!!" (modeled somewhat along the lines of the Muppet's "Pigs...In...Spaaace!") Please, sir, leave the meaning of "relativity" to scientists like Messers. Einstein and Hawkings, and the meanings of "Heaven and Hell" to the theologians. Neither you nor Mr. "Dawgit" are qualified.

zarathustra2010
zarathustra2010

It is certainly obvious that those who cannot spell words properly "can't appreciate the Universe, anyway." Please explain what you mean by "up is relitive" in this case. Your statement that "parts of his body" are to be placed in "space for future explorations" is complete nonsense, linguisticaally and logically. From your idiotic statement, I presume his leg is going to be used as part of a vehicle or something? I remember who "dawgit" was, by the way: He was a small child who appeared one day on the original "Battlestar Galactica", and stayed there till the network decided to get rid of that Mormon evangelistic effort. Please, sir (Or madame, or whatever): Go back to school, get a proper education in English. By that I mean: 'stop trying to learn Engish by watching ancient American SciFi series on TV'. It just doesn't work properly, since many of the words used don't even exist in the English language. By the way, Time and Space are relative to one another (supposedly), but "Up and Down", or in our case, "Heaven or Hell", certainly aren't. Heaven is our reward for placing our eternal trust in Jesus Christ, and then keeping this trust until death. Hell is our reward for placing our eternal trust in ourselves and our "intelligence". Those outside of Christ are not HIS "relatives", they are Satan's. Christ's brethren go where HE is: "High and lifted UP", not "down in the dust" (in any sense of the word). Donald L McDaniel

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

Not what I was going to say. Glad I didn't say it too. Thanks.

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