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2001, A Space Odyssey

Flight times are often actually longer, due to "stacking" of traffic around congested airports. No helicopters take us from downtown to the airport. A time traveller from 1968, in fact, would see very little unfamiliar in driving through a present-day American city, apart from purely stylistic design changes in clothing, cars, and the like. There are no monorails or automatic self-driving cars; only the same freeways with the same congestion. Only the proliferation of satellite TV dishes, perhaps, would give any futuristic flavor to the scene.

Even in the realm of computers, the vision of "2001" has not materialized: among the world's millions of computers, none has remotely the intelligence (or, to be sure, the menace) of the film's HAL. Yet in fact there are millions of computers, the great majority of them in ordinary homes. Our imaginary time traveller's first real sense of being in "the future" would surely come from going into homes and finding a computer in about half of them.

As compared to the 1968 vision of computers in the future, the reality of 1998 is at once prosaic and breathtaking. In the film "2001," computers, save for HAL, were almost wholly invisible. Presumably there were navigation computers in the spacecraft, but no one wrote on a laptop or sent e-mail, much less logged onto the Internet--none of these applications was foreseen. In fact, th


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2001, A Space Odyssey. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:22, October 24, 2014, from
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