Must Read: Arthur C. Clarke puts the smackdown on A.I. skeptics

Tod Mesirow traveled to Sri Lanka and interviewed Rendezvous with Rama author Arthur C. Clarke in 1995, and the full transcript was recently published in the L.A. Review of Books. Including Clarke's awesome rejoinder to people who don't think artificial intelligence is coming.

Asked whether we'll have computers that can think for themselves, like HAL in 2001: a Space Odyssey, Clarke responded:

Oh, I don't think there’s any question of that. I think that the people that say we will never develop computer intelligence — they merely prove that some biological systems don't have much intelligence.


Also, Clarke revealed that he had his desktop computer set up so that whenever he shut it down, it would say, in the HAL voice, "My mind is going, I can feel it..." He also discussed the genesis of 2001, and the early working titles for the film, which included Journey Beyond the Stars and How the Solar System Was Won. He also talked about why he became a science fiction writer in the first place, and why he felt that science fiction writers had to be interested in the future, and also optimistic.

Most of all, it's great to read Clarke speculating about what would happen if we really made contact with super-advanced alien beings — would we feel apathetic? Suicidal, even? Would we feel like there's no point in trying, since we're so far behind? Would we become the ultimate "couch potatoes" as a species, or outsource all our problems to the "Galactic Internet"?

The whole interview is a must-read. Check it out over at the L.A. Review of Books.

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