July 12, 2012
2001: A Space Odyssey was a film that I’ve heard in passing from other science fiction readers, and those in adore of film culture. Brief references to the plot have often surfaced in my encounters with pop culture, media and visual analysis studies during classes.
Not only was the trailer and cinematography of the set design and music score an unpopular feature at the time the film premiered, it’s also a visual starstruck hallucinogenic experience (while under the influences of hallucinogenics)! Or so the boy says, according to “a friend of a friend of a friend of mine.”
Nevertheless, once I saw this book sitting on the shelf at the second-hand thrift store, it was mine!
For those in the know of my literature interests, over the past 2 years one of the main genres that I haven’t encountered was science fiction. It’s been a slow journey catching up on the films and writers from this genre due to other readings to-do. Presumably, delaying an interest in science fiction novellas may have been related to the fact that most of my (first) undergrad focused on european literature, art history, cultural/mythologies and art history topics for “reading to know” material.
However, my parents *do* own several stacks of National Geographics magazines that were browsed during my hazy recollection of childhood, and there was a brief, fleeting interest in genetically modified foods slash human cloning during self-chosen freshman year essay topics.
There’s also a children’s “factual” text on space exploration and the sciences of the universe in my childhood ‘room library, so there wasn’t any lack of knowledge to munch on during my youth!
The reading style that I prefer is drifting in a non-linear fashion, so there’s not much information in my current frame of mind that relates to the plot, other than the fact that I’m, most likely, reading the novel in a “writer writing in a book” fashion versus “reader reading for the first time.”
A few facts of noticeable interest (that I had learned previously to reading the novel)
- In 1961 an IBM 704 (Eliza) became the first computer to sing, in a demonstration of Bell Labs’ newly invented speech synthesis – and the song was “Daisy Bell”. Vocals were programmed by John Kelly and Carol Lochbaum and the accompaniment was programmed by Max Mathews.
- In the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey the intelligent HAL 9000 computer during its deactivation loses its mind and degenerates to singing “Daisy”. (The author of the story, Arthur C. Clarke, had seen the 1961 demo.) The reason the computer reverted to singing this song, according to the film, was because it was one of the first things HAL learned when it was originally programmed.
- The Turing test is a test of a machine‘s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour. In Turing’s original illustrative example, a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with a human and a machine designed to generate performance indistinguishable from that of a human being.
- Alan Turing is mentioned, in relation to the fact that HAL is an artificial intelligence machine that fulfills the requirements and passes the Turing test.