Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Arthur C. Clarke: His New Odyssey


Famed science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke died yesterday at 90 years old.

The prolific Clarke, pictured here, who was also a scientist and deep-sea diver, was most famous for his novel, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” It was, of course, made into an award-winning movie, directed by Stanley Kubrick.

But I have always been an admirer of Clarke’s three laws of prediction, which are wholly applicable to the digital arena and–more to the point–are spot-on:

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

It was actually Clarke who was indistinguishable from magic.

And here’s a video of the first unforgettable minute of “2001” (Duum! Duum! DUUUM! Dum! Dum!).

(The movie, by the way, features one of my favorite lines from any film, delivered by the menacing computer, HAL: “Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?” I employ it frequently in the same dulcet tone with my kids.)

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik