The Astonishing Insight of Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke is a well known author, with the majority of his works being written in the genre of fiction. He is most famous for his book entitled 2001: A Space Odyssey, he also co-wrote the screenplay for the movie of the same name directed by Stanley Kubrick. Through his books, Clarke soon became remembered as a person with an uncanny way of predicting the future and the technologies that were yet to come. Here are some of Clarke’s most noteworthy predictions that have come to pass.
5. Satellite Networks
Clarke wrote an article entitled “Extra Terrestrial Relays: Can Rocket Stations Give World-Wide Radio Coverage?” for Wireless World in 1945. The article dealt with the potential use of geostationary satellites, and the theory that if a rocket was launched at a high enough velocity that it would circle the Earth forever, like an artificial moon of sorts. Clarke believed that once this rocket was encircling the planet, these artificial communication satellites would allow instant communication with each other from anywhere around the globe, what we today call satellite internet. This prediction was written decades before any satellites were sent into orbit, and today the world we know is the wireless information age that Clarke one wrote about.
4. The Internet
Clarke’s mother was a radio operator, so it was only natural for him to gain an interest in wireless technologies. He knew that communication across the globe would become a simple task, and that daily conveniences would one day be able to be completed in the comfort of one’s home. The first mention of the technology that becomes the internet was on an Australian news program during the year 1974. Clarke stated that “all information needed for everyday life, bank statements, and theater reservations” would be easily accessed by the turn of the century. By the year 2000, around 80% of the financial institutions available offered online banking to their customers.
3. Smart Phones and Tablets
Smart phone technologies are not a new idea, the first concept of such a device came about in Clarke’s novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. Throughout this work of fiction, characters are fixated on items called Newspads that function exactly like smartphones do today. There is a passage in the novel the show the functionality of the device that states “Here he was, far out in space, speeding away from Earth at thousands of miles an hour, yet in a few milliseconds he could see the headlines of any newspaper he pleased.”
2. Personal Computers
During the 1960’s, Clarke envisioned a world where computers were much more advanced. He envisioned homes having smaller computer consoles that would allow access to communication and infinite information. Going even further, he goes on to predict that people will take this technology for granted like the telephone. In his book, Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible, Clarke talks about future generations as “being able to establish instant TV contact with anyone, anywhere else on Earth.” Today, it is rare to see a home without a personal computer.
In 1964, Clarke predicted that by the year 2000 “men will no longer commute, they will communicate”. He went on to say that people would be able to conduct business in any area of the world, from big cities such as London to out in the country or on a remote island such as Tahiti. Today, international business associates can confirm the truth of this prediction, and attest that telecommuting and video conferencing have saved hours of travel time. Clarke’s words ring true once again.
Predictions of the future are often a tough concept to explore. Through his books, Arthur C Clarke was able to play out his theories of the future, and in his famous work 2001: A Space Odyssey some of his most daring, precise predictions came to the surface.
Kate Voss is a blogger and entertainment writer based in Chicago.