Meanwhile Clarke, ensconced in his Sri Lankan home, has begun to experience an onslaught of press inquiries. "2001 is rearing its ugly head," he says. "I'm absolutely bombed out of my mind with interviews and TV." (George Orwell, who died in 1950, probably would have been glad that he never lived to see January 1, 1984.) On the morning of November 8, Clarke, 83, who suffers from a progressive neurological condition that prevents him from walking, had already received 10 e-mails, most from journalists requesting interviews. At the time, Clarke was preparing to put on scuba gear (something he not done in several years) so that he could be photographed in a local swimming pool by noted photojournalist Peter Menzel for the German magazine Stern. Asked if he regrets putting "2001" in the title of the screenplay, Clarke replies, "I think it was Stanley's idea."
In any case, Clarke remains undeterred by how far off the mark his vision has strayed. Machine intelligence will become more than science fiction, he believes, if not by the year marked on the cover of this magazine. "I think it's inevitable; it's just part of the evolutionary process," he says. Errors in prediction, Clarke maintains, get counterbalanced over time by outcomes more fantastic than the original insight. "First our expectations of what occurs outrun what's actually happening, and then eventually what actually happens far exceeds our expectations."
Quoting himself (Clarke's third law), Clarke remarks that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic; as technology advances it creates magic, and [AI is] going to be one of them." Areas of research that target the ultimate in miniaturization, he adds, may be the key to making good minds. "When nanotechnology is fully developed, they're going to churn [artificial brains] out as fast as they like." Time will tell if that's prediction, like Clarke's speculations about telecommunications satellites, or just a prop for science fiction.ý
This article was originally published with the title 2001: A Scorecard.