back to article 2001 set the standard for the next 50 years of hard (and some soft) sci-fi

Finally, after almost half a century of waiting, you can welcome the mildly homicidal artificial intelligence HAL 9000 into your home. If you want. Few of the other predictions of tomorrow's world made in Stanley Kubrick's psychedelic space epic 2001: A Space Odyssey – marking its 50th anniversary at the start of April – have …

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  1. Alastair Dodd 1
    Thumb Up

    Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

    It also predicted the ipad/tablet computer.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ8pQVDyaLo

    Amazing film, incredible effects. Total landmark in cinema

    1. Spiracle

      Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

      It does suffer from the Blade Runner/Neuromancer anachronism of everybody still using phone boxes though.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

        > Blade Runner/Neuromancer anachronism

        And Solyent Green :)

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

      And video phone calls were quite a thing in it too

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

        Shame we never got an ibmPad (bottom right)...

        1. Symon Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

          The 2001 iPad wouldn't have caught on. It needs _rounded_ corners. Duh!

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

            For rounded corners in hardware, there are lots of examples - it comes from ergonomics but also from manufacturing constraints (sharp corners and zero draught angles are a recipe for injection moulding problems.) A specific arrangement of elements is the only way to describe Trade Dress, which what I assume you are talking about. Trade Dress might be the shape of a Coke bottle, or BMW's kidney grill.

            For rounded corners in icons (a la iOS), you could look at the work done for the Nostromo's on board graphics in Ridley Scott's Alien, designed by Ron Cobb. "Semiotic Standard For All Commercial Trans-Stellar Utility Lifter And Heavy Element Transport Spacecraft. "

            https://typesetinthefuture.com/2014/12/01/alien/

            1. Christian Berger Silver badge

              Rounded corners

              According to this:

              https://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=Round_Rects_Are_Everywhere.txt

              Apple included Round Rects in their graphics API because they were a common shape even back then.

            2. Mike Richards Silver badge

              Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

              https://typesetinthefuture.com/2014/12/01/alien/

              And now I'm helplessly engrossed with that site - thank-you sir!

              1. AdamT

                Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

                @Dave 126 + @Mike Richards - yes that blog is amazing! And they've done a book, out in October: https://typesetinthefuture.com/book/

  2. Spiracle

    Centrifuge

    I could never work out where that rapidly spinning centrifuge actually was on the ship. Presumably it was mounted laterally inside the sphere at the front, but it never looked big enough.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Centrifuge

      Plans are available here.

      1. Nugry Horace

        Re: Centrifuge

        That works for '2001', but the scene in '2010' when they find Discovery with the centrifuge stopped and its angular momentum transferred to the ship only works if the centrifuge is mounted fore-and-aft rather than sideways-on.

        1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

          Re: Centrifuge

          I haven't a clue whether this is right but have a upvote for your sheer pedantry

        2. PerlyKing
          Boffin

          Re: Centrifuge orientation

          I'd have to do some searching (or maths... nah ;-) but I remember reading at the time that the physics of this is correct even though it's counterintuitive - as is a lot of orbital and microgravity physics. The initial spin would have been around the long axis, but that is not stable in the long term.

          I'm fairly sure I've seen a video of someone on the ISS demonstrating with a water bottle.

          1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

            Re: Centrifuge orientation

            Similar to the effect that killed or saved pilots of Sopwith Camels in WWI. That huge Gnome rotary engine!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kubrick was first and formost a photographer

    That's what I love about all of Kurick's work but in particular 2001: The photography, every frame is beautiful and correct - lenses, lighting, it's all perfect, thrilling, a visual pleasure.

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Kubrick was first and formost a photographer

      It's worth finding a copy of 'Barry Lyndon' if you haven't seen it. Some interior scenes were only lit by natural supplemented by candlelight so Kubrick had to get three f/0.7 lenses originally designed for the Moon missions.

      The effect is extraordinary.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Kubrick was first and formost a photographer

        Lyndon is amazing, each scene looks like an oil painting. Kubrick had to compose each scene carefully because the wide aperture meant few bits of the scene could be in focus.

        These days digital cameras are more sensitive than film - so the oil painting aesthetic of the BBC's Wolf Hall is easier to achieve without the shallow depth of focus.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please give an honourable mention to the Forbidden Planet, a truly ground breaking Sci-fi movie.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Forbidden Planet

      The monster: The ID, was hand drawn by Disney and all the better for the lack of computer graphics - the ID depiction is a timeless work of art.

      1. Symon Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Forbidden Planet

        Well, even disregarding the great visual effects, with a plot written by William Shakespeare, Forbidden Planet had a pretty good chance of success!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Forbidden Planet

          2001 is proper sci-fi: No chance of happening upon a forbidden planet with human breathable atmosphere - fashioned by aliens for aliens - rather a big lapse of logic, that.

          1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

            Re: Forbidden Planet

            "2001 is real sci-fi: No chance of happening upon a forbidden planet with human breathable air - fashioned by aliens for aliens - rather a big lapse of logic, that."

            Well we don't know, since we only have a sample size of 1 to compare.

            Mars at some point had a larger proportion of Oxygen in its atmosphere that now, but Oxygen is very reactive and will quickly bond to other chemicals (so the red rust of Mars).

            To maintain high oxygen content we need a process to release oxygen from other chemicals. Simple Life does that pretty well in terms of photosynthesis, and there is no reason to believe that if life does exist elsewhere a similar process could not be possible.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Forbidden Planet

              "Simple Life does that pretty well in terms of photosynthesis, and there is no reason to believe that if life does exist elsewhere a similar process could not be possible."

              Convergent Evolution then, ok, I'll give you that one.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Forbidden Planet

              "Mars at some point had a larger proportion of Oxygen in its atmosphere that now,"

              Are you sure about that?

              Earth never had any appreciable oxygen in its atmosphere until chloroplasts evolved and finding any significant amount of free oxygen is widely considered to be an indicator of possible life processes

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Forbidden Planet

            >No chance of happening upon a forbidden planet with human breathable atmosphere - fashioned by aliens for aliens - rather a big lapse of logic, that.

            Are you being ironic, given what happened to Jupiter and Europa in 2010 or did you not read 2010 ?

            All the worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landings there.

            1. Michael Strorm

              Re: Forbidden Planet

              "Are you being ironic, given what happened to Jupiter and Europa in 2010 or did you not read 2010 ?"

              Yeah, but that's 2010- which was written around fifteen years later- and for various reasons it's open to question how legitimately one can back-read continuity and explanations between that and the film of 2001.

              tl;dr - (i) 2010 was written years later, (ii) Kubrick wasn't involved in 2010 at all, (iii) both book and movie of 2010 reflected Clarke's more "literal" vision seen in the original novel which perhaps was never the intended spirit or interpretation of the film ending and (iv) the discrepancies between versions and sequels mean we can't assume one applies to the other.

              The novel of 2010 was written by Arthur C. Clarke alone and follows the far more literal style of his original novel of 2001. *That* was written alongside the original film- rather than being a direct novelisation of it- and- along with the different "approach" and feel- varies somewhat in its depiction of specific events (e.g. the action takes place around Saturn, whose rings were deemed too difficult to acccurately depict for the film).

              While it's often implied that the novel "explains" the post-Stargate ending of the film of 2001, the differences in what comes before means it can't be taken for granted that this is the case, or even what was intended. Given the aforementioned differences in approach, it's quite possible that- unlike the novel- the ending of the film was always *meant* to be open to interpretation and viewed as such, and that trying to shoehorn it into the excellent-but-different literal viewpoint of the novel both does it a disservice and misses the point.

              Back to 2010... the original novel- which came out a couple of years before the 1984 film- follows very much the approach of Clarke's 2001 novel. (I first read them one after the other- before I'd seen either film- and enjoyed both very much- 2010 was a great sequel).

              The film 2010 is based on the aforementioned Clarke sequel novel, and Kubrick was not involved at all. (#). That's why it's so different in feel and approach to Kubrick's original, and why I don't consider it the latter's direct spiritual successor. Yes, they've included elements from Kubrick's 2001- and even Clarke's 2010 novel altered the continuity to fit the original film rather than the original novel better- but the film is still essentially "Hollywood's movie version of Clarke's sequel to *his* original novel" and reflects the approach and style of the latter. (##)

              There's also the question of whether one can apply the events of 2010 to 2001, since the latter were Clarke's alone and he possibly- indeed quite probably- hadn't thought them up when writing the original story.

              (#) Indeed, when he saw it, he apparently complained that they'd "explained everything". Which might back up my view on trying to shoehorn the novel's "explanation" onto the ending of the original film.

              (##) The film even "recaps" the line "My god, it's full of stars" from just before Bowman enters the Stargate in 2001. Except that was *never* in the original film- only Clarke's novel.

              1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

                Re: Forbidden Planet

                Clarke has gone on record as saying that the follow ups to 2001 aren't strictly sequels, but more akin to further works exploring the similar themes.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Forbidden Planet

                  Yes, I think he's said something along the lines of they take place in similar but not identical parallel universes.

        2. Steve Crook

          Re: Forbidden Planet

          Actually, I always thought it was the father of 'Star Trek' more than a descendant of Shakespeare. But I guess YMMV

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "more than a descendant of Shakespeare."

            The plot is inspired from "The Tempest" - Picard would have appreciated, though... probably the only Frenchman so fond of Shakespeare over Molière...

            And not that other sci-fi plots didn't lift from Shakespeare as well....

          2. Nano nano

            Re: Forbidden Planet

            Actually, having re-watched an episode of "Space Patrol", I noted several points that seem to have "jumped" into Star Trek ! Pointy-eared logical aliens, "I'm a scientist, not a ...." etc.

            Roddenberry must have seen some episodes

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silent Running...

    ...still one of my favourite films. Serious, hard sci-fi films tackling big issues are so rare these days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Silent Running...

      > Silent Running......still one of my favourite films

      I thought Dark Star was better

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Silent Running...

        Dark Star, with various contributions from Dan O'Bannon. He would go on to write another Monster on a Spaceship movie you might have heard of: Alien.

        Some of the other creative talent on Alien were first assembled for an aborted Dune movie project.

        Kubrick was a photographer... and a former chess hustler. I've heard that Ridley Scott can draw like Ruebens. Visual people.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Silent Running...

          I'd really love to have seen what Ridley Scott would have done with Dune. Or even better, rather than watching his nurdling around with Alien prequels, watch him do it now. With modern special effects. Still hard to do dramatically, as so much of the action happens in Paul's head - which is the thing the Lynch version really fell down on. I could ignore the crap special effects if the film worked in other ways.

    2. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: Silent Running...

      I'm still waiting for "Rendezvous with Rama" to hit the big screen

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: Silent Running...

        I'm still waiting for "Rendezvous with Rama" to hit the big screen

        Agreed, but unfortunately I don't think the original story has enough sex and violence to appeal to Hollywood, and I shudder to think what an "adaptation" would turn out like.

        Probably like I Robot - only the title remains.

        1. Vulch

          Re: Silent Running...

          Morgan Freeman has been trying to get Rendezvous With Rama made for 20+ years.

      2. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Silent Running...

        "Rendezvous with Rama"

        The only issue with that is that were it to be a success, they'd make use of the sequels as penned by Gentry Lee and he should never have been allowed to publish any kind of book

        1. BoldMan

          Re: Silent Running...

          Oh god yes, please don't even consider touching the terrible sequels. As soon as I read the "Ramans do everything in threes" I knew there would be a trilogy, I just didn't realise how long we'd have to wait and what an absolute turgid mess it would be.

      3. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Silent Running...

        I'm waiting for Zelanzy's Lord Of Light. A script has existed since 1979, and last year they sadi they would bring out a TV series...

      4. strum Silver badge

        Re: Silent Running...

        >I'm still waiting for "Rendezvous with Rama" to hit the big screen

        It would have to be in three parts.

  6. Chronos Silver badge

    HAL

    HAL wasn't malfunctioning or deliberately psychopathic. It had two sets of conflicting orders and no moral imperatives. It was designed to do what it did, and did it perfectly. The fault lies with the people who fed in those category A directives and didn't think about what an AI with problem-solving heuristics would come up with as a solution, which is why "no harm by action or inaction" is law #1 and MUST be hard-coded.

    It redeemed itself in 2010 even without Asimov's law 1, which I think was the stronger of the two films from this perspective as it correctly represented the danger of having unaccountable bodies issuing orders to complex systems that have no hard-wired ethics. Chandra should have seen this coming and given HAL a bullshit detector but, like many intellectuals, he's an innocent child when it comes to political deviousness which leaked into HAL's programming almost by osmosis.

    Right now, what we're classing as AIs aren't I; Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Jasper, they're all simple if-this-then-that logic machines with a bit of imperfect voice recognition and TTS tacked on as a UX. If we ever realise true machine intelligence, these issues will need most careful thought.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: HAL

      This is the thread about 2001's production design. For conversations about HAL see yesterday's 2001 article. :)

      1. Chronos Silver badge

        Re: HAL

        @Dave 126: Sorry, Dave, I can't do that. From TFA:

        Finally, after almost half a century of waiting, you can welcome the mildly homicidal artificial intelligence HAL 9000 into your home.[...]And it predicted Siri and Alexa. What else do you want?

        My post is a direct reply to the posted article.

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: HAL

      ...If we ever realise true machine intelligence, these issues will need most careful thought....

      If we ever realise true machine intelligence, we will be able to discuss these issues with the machine involved.

      Journalists and the public do not understand what they are talking about (Do they ever?). If our autonomous machines are simply machines with a decision tree (no matter how complex), then it makes sense to talk about us deciding how to program ethical issues into that tree.

      If the systems we create are truly 'intelligent', then they will develop their own ethical guidelines, just as we do. We can discuss these with them, but we cannot force an intelligent being to do something against their will.

      Incidentally, a truly 'intelligent' replica of a brain would presumably suffer from all the issues that our brains have, They would get bored, lose attention, behave immorally or recklessly and probably find a way to get drunk or high....

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: HAL

        "We can discuss these with them, but we cannot force an intelligent being to do something against their will."

        Oh, really? Robocop would like to have a word with you*...

        * starting to argue on what is and isn't possible with an intelligent brain while we have hardly any idea what either of those two words really mean is not a worthwhile use of anyone's time IMHO. But placing constraints on intelligence is definitely a neither novel nor unexplored concept.

      2. onefang Silver badge

        Re: HAL

        "... we cannot force an intelligent being to do something against their will."

        Happens all the time to humans, especially in prisons and cube farms.

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