Arthur C Clarke


Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

That infamous quote was the catalyst to my sub-theme here on ‘Black Boxes’ and the notion that the surging complexity of the world is reducing rather than raising our understanding of it. And with that trend comes the hazard that people start to think technology really is magic rather than the product of rigorous methodology by people who do understand it.

Clark, born today in 1917, is considered by many the grandmaster of the science fiction genre. You might think that a skeptic (embracing the failure of knowing) like myself would be disinterested in any form of fiction. And yet, I’ve always enjoyed a bit of science fiction in my literary diet. The essay ‘Innovation Starvation’ (thanks Chris) provides a good explanation why…

  • “The imperative to develop new technologies and implement them on a heroic scale no longer seems like the childish preoccupation of a few nerds with slide rules. It’s the only way for the human race to escape from its current predicaments. Too bad we’ve forgotten how to do it. ‘You’re the ones who’ve been slacking off!’ proclaims Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University (and one of the other speakers at Future Tense). He refers, of course, to SciFi writers. The scientists and engineers, he seems to be saying, are ready and looking for things to do. Time for the SciFi writers to start pulling their weight and supplying big visions that make sense.”

Science Fiction as dream fuel. The observations spur yet another possible delineation between Leaders and Managers…

Leaders craft Science Fiction, Managers assay Science Fact. Both together are needed for human progress.