On Viewing 2001: The First Transhumanist Film

Posted by DrEdwardHudgins 4 years ago to Philosophy
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2001: A Space Odyssey was the first transhumanist film. Its enigmatic theme of transformation is itself transforming from science fiction to science fact.
SOURCE URL: http://atlassociety.org/commentary/commentary-blog/5911-on-viewing-2001-the-first-transhumanist-film


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  • Posted by  $  johnrobert2 4 years ago
    I was newly graduated from high school when this movie came out and sufficiently involved in sci-fi (having read it since before my teens, starting with Tom Swift) to immediately grasp the concepts. I was enthralled.
    To continue with the thoughts on progress in the article, I fear for them. Not because they are coming about but because they will become restricted to an elite whose aim is power and dynastic rule. The rest of us are relegated to be the helots and vassals to their aspirations.
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    • Posted by  $  nickursis 4 years ago
      Indeed true JR, and it is done in such a way as to completely obscure their intent, and people buy into it. I liken the whole Syrian refugee thing into that, there is just something not right about the whole setup.
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      • Posted by  $  johnrobert2 4 years ago
        AJA subscribes to the same misgivings. Something's rotten in Denmark and it ain't the fish. So far, the MSM has noticed the disparity in demographic but no one has made the next logical extrapolation, given this idiot's proclivity for always soft-pedaling their mayhem. It goes back to his early years in Indonesia where he was immersed in, if not converted to, Islam. Somebody in a position of influence better catch on fast.
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  • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 4 years ago
    2001 was a great book. I never watched the movie. The first few chapters of the book were absolutely riveting.
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    • Posted by  $  nickursis 4 years ago
      AJ, find the movie or see if YT has the first 20 minutes, some of the best special effects done. On a CinemaScope screen it was fantastic. Their Shuttle idea was nearly spot on, except it could take off from a runway and get to orbit on it's own.
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  • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years ago
    It was a wonderful movie; I need to see it again. The scene where the bone transforms into the space vehicle one of the best ever filmed.

    One of the ways in which the movie is apparently correct is that we have since learned that the size of hominin brain increased in approximate conjunction with their dentition changing to carnivore. It is meat that fuels our brains.

    Insofar as the new tech only being available to the elite. Ha! They may wish it were so, but that rabbit jumped out of the bag long since. Between 3D printing and Makerfairs, biotech is becoming more distributed (and hence less controllable) every year, just as power is. We need Time.

    Jan
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    • Posted by 4 years ago
      In the '90s the usual liberals raised the fear of a huge class divide because only the elite would be able to afford computers and the internet. Of course, even the poorest communities usually had libraries with free use of computers. (They also had books!) But we are in an age of EXPONENTIAL technological development and spreading of technologies. It took 60 yrs for telephones to go from 10% market penetration to 50%. It took 11 yrs for PC and 6 years for the internet to grow that way. New technologies rapid increases in quality and drops in prices. And folks, wait til you see what's going to happen with genetic engineering, bionics and nanotech in the next 5-10 yrs. Transhuman might be here quicker than you can imagine!
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      • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years ago
        It is certainly the liberals who are currently promoting the idea that new tech (esp. anti-aging) will only be available to the elite. The greatest barrier to new tech is regulation, not elitism.

        Jan
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 4 years ago
        "the usual liberals raised the fear of a huge class divide because only the elite would be able to afford computers and the internet. Of course, even the poorest communities usually had libraries with free use of computers.:
        You're saying the 90s these liberals raise the fear of a digital class divide. What nonsense you say, because of course someone had already set up public institutions that provided books and computer access at no cost to the poor. That was liberals.
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    • Posted by  $  nickursis 4 years ago
      Jan, tech can become the great equalizer, in that it removes the controls they have over us. Intel's CEO is a big pusher of the maker idea.
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      • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years ago
        I have some friends and acquaintances who are involved in Maker stuff. One of the, a dropout from a Chem PhD program, has started several Maker facilities.

        If I had lots of extra time on my hands...

        Jan
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        • Posted by  $  nickursis 4 years ago
          Exactly, I waste a huge amount of time trying just to get my laptop resurrected from forgetting how to do win7 updates. I think MS has trashed it to get you to shift up....what a pain..
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        • Posted by  $  nickursis 4 years ago
          Exactly, I waste a huge amount of time trying just to get my laptop resurrected from forgetting how to do win7 updates. I think MS has trashed it to get you to shift up....what a pain..
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  • Posted by Herb7734 4 years ago
    I saw it when it first came out in the three camera process with my two pre-teen sons. They didn't get it, but they loved it for it's (then) revolutionary presentation. Truth be told, I didn't get it either, after many viewings, I had to say that Kubrick was more of a genius than I gave him credit for. His advanced conceptualization was not only pioneering, but courageous.
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    • Posted by plusaf 4 years ago
      Thanks, all, for reminding me of 2001. I saw it, walked out not understanding very much about the entire arc, then read the novel and saw the movie several more times.

      Walking out of the second viewing, people were expressing all kinds of conclusions as to "what this or that part meant..." and I could hardly restrain myself from shouting, "Read The Book!"

      At least in the novel, Clarke made it pretty clear what was going on and what 'things meant,' although the final scene of the movie left out one key concept... the Star Child exploded/destroyed all of the nuclear weapons orbiting the Earth so that they could no longer be a danger to the people living on the planet. I'm sure it would have been 'damn-near impossible to 'explain' that in the movie, but the intent in the book was crystal-clear.

      I may have to excavate that old DVD again, too.
      Thanks!

      Oh, and in the making of 2001, the switch from leg bone to space ship occurred in the span of ONE frame of the movie to the next. No fade, no dissolve; brilliant.
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      • Posted by Herb7734 4 years ago
        Brilliant and daring. The technique, called "lap dissolve" had been around for 50 years, but Kubrick chose the more primitive, and in this case more powerful sudden change from one frame to the next. The trouble with genius is that it often takes non-genius a few years to catch up. Examples: Einstein, Stravinsky.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 4 years ago
    I loved the article. Now that I think about it, Bowman was all alone, barely able to keep Discovery running without HAL (according to the book). The book and the movie don't describe his motivation for going out to see the monolith, but it must have been human curiosity and boredom. Then he gets sucked in.

    I wonder if it's saying that will happen to us. Whether we or not plan to integrate ourselves into machines, it will suck us in anyway.
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    • Posted by  $  nickursis 4 years ago
      CG, I thought the motivation was very clear. The Discovery mission was prepared after the monolith on the moon sent a very strong signal to Iapetus. That was the explanation Dr Floyd made in his video that HAL never showed, that Bowman found when he went digging. The problem was HAL had psychotic programming that said he had to complete the mission at all costs. He interpreted their threat to shut him down as as threat to that mission, so he started to arrange the accidents. 2010 went a long ways in clarifying the issues when DR Chandra has his chats with HAL.When he gets there and sees this humongous monolith sitting outside, he of course, acted just like the apes did, go up to it and touch it. I think Clarke was illustrating that advanced technology had no human need for contact, while the human must have physical contact to comprehend something, illustrating the need for humans to have factual, provable, physical data before they can understand, vs the alien ability to perform and comprehend things without any contact. I saw a paper once that compared the monolith to God and the humans to Adam, although I am not sure Clarke meant it that way.
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 4 years ago
        I understood the plot elements you describe. I was wondering if Bowman getting sucked in symbolizes the inevitability of technology.

        I liked your notion of how Bowman was like those australopithecines, or whatever they were, in his desire to touch the monolith. Those creatures couldn't resist touching it, their curiosity overpowering their visible fear. Then the monolith caused them to take a leap forward. Maybe the same thing was happening with Bowman, timidly approaching it with his pod, and being transformed into something his own species couldn't understand. One thing that was different, though, was Bowman approached it with stoicism, not with the mix of fear and wonder of ape-like creatures.
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        • Posted by  $  nickursis 4 years ago
          Indeed, I think you may have identified something they wanted the audience to figure out. Bowman had the sense of curiosity and wonder, but no fear. He went through the transformation, and still had no fear, remember the hotel room scene? He saw himself and it was no big deal, until he was in the bed and transformed into the Star Child. I also think that that was one of the main ideas behind it, the original Clarke story was Childhood End, and one of the questions was, did the monolith make changes to the apes, so that they became capable of evolution along the lines it wanted, and then when we reached a certain level and uncovered the signal monolith, did that then mean that we were ready to "grow up". In 2010 the monolith finds life on Europa, and ignites Jupiter as a small sun to warm it and let them evolve. The Star Child was there to guide and protect, and told man that "no one could go there". There were a few more books that took the story along, but I lost the thread after 2010. I think there were 2 more books on it. Here is a good synopsis of the final book and some discussion of the whole monolith thing, which was one reason I never followed through, they get pretty psycho in the end and try to kill everyone. Not a lot of sense for something that started life on earth...

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3001:_T...
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          • Posted by 4 years ago
            FYI, I heard Keir Dullea discuss the film a few weeks ago when I saw it again and he mentioned both the ape-men touching the monolith and Floyd on the Moon touching it. He said Floyd's glove was the same gray color as the ape-man's hand. (I'll have to check my bluray for that.)
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            • Posted by  $  nickursis 4 years ago
              I believe he is correct, add to that it was grey due to the moondust, symbolic of man being the end product of the monoliths adjustments, yet was still the same, I think.
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          • Posted by CircuitGuy 4 years ago
            I liked the last 2 books. In 2061 people had been scared by the warning of "attempt no landing there", but they start pushing the limits, going closer and closer. A ship crashes there. I found I suspend disbelief and imagine a really powerful force made that planet, the creepy place shown at the end of 2010 with the monolith silently and mysteriously looking over it. It made for a creepy and exciting setting for me.

            3001 was okay, but its descrption of life 1000 years from when I read it 15 years ago seems closer to life today. They have Siri, but they call it Miss Pringle. I didn't get into the climax. In the end the monolith does not destroy the solar system, and I never really got into that plot element. The most interesting thing was how people in 3001 considered someone from 2000 to have lived roughly in the time of Ben Franklin. It's like how I think of the Roman Empire as splitting into East and West, and the West collapsing around the same time.
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            • Posted by  $  nickursis 4 years ago
              It was an interesting play on the idea of time as a reference for everything, even today people who had an Apple2C (I did) are thought of as the same as those who had Model T's. Technological barbarians. I think AC skewered the monolith idea in the last book though, unless he was implying it had the same issue as HAL (secret programming in conflict).
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              • Posted by CircuitGuy 4 years ago
                I thought it was a "religious" issue of whether humankind was worthy-- but without the mysticism, substitutionary atonement, etc.
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                • Posted by  $  nickursis 4 years ago
                  Well, the monoliths were just an alien technology that was to foster and protect the growth of intelligent life. Often termed "religious" I guess. Leads right back into a book called "We have never been Alone" which advances an interesting thesis that all religions today are just based on a manipulation by ancient aliens who created them to control people through their "priests". Then when they hauled out of here, those priests were out of a job, so they just kept it all going...sounds like government to me...
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  • Posted by  $  nickursis 4 years ago
    A favorite, when I was a young lad. I was awestruck at the vision. After reading the book, there were a couple things missing, the monoliths actually did change the ape the decide to use tools, and to kill. A reverse on the Christian idea that man brought murder to himself, in this case it was a god who did it to man. As if to atone for it, the monolith then proceeds to create a god child, again a reverse. Several other books from Arthur C Clarke also toyed with the idea of just where man stopped and gods began, or if the concept of a god was just a being who was so far advanced. It was a great movie on so many levels, the first 30 minutes are still a fantastic trip in what we could have done, if we really wanted to. But between the music and vision, still is chilling.
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    • Posted by 4 years ago
      Agreed! I saw it 3 times as a young teen when it first came put and many time on video--and occasionally on the big screen--since then. Clarke's work is always thought-provoking, perhaps one of the best things you can say about a writer. The review in the Objectivist at the time hated it. Some folks didn't get the genre and missed what Kubrick and Clarke were doing. Of interest, Kerry O'Quinn, who founded Starlog mag, knew Ayn Rand and tried to interest her in sci-fi, but it wasn't her cup of tea. But today, there's a strong synergy between Objectivists, libertarians, and the life extension/transhumanist movement.
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      • Posted by  $  nickursis 4 years ago
        I can see a connection between AR not liking SCI Fi then. It was sort of a counter to a lot of her basic tenants in that it was almost always using government as the vehicle for anything to be accomplished. I would have thought she would have liked Heinlein, as almost all of his stories were related to strong willed individuals who do for themselves, and in so doing, help others. Some of his quotes I think show that:


        Every law that was ever written opened up a new way to graft.
        Red Planet (1949)

        How anybody expects a man to stay in business with every two-bit wowser in the country claiming a veto over what we can say and can't say and what we can show and what we can't show — it's enough to make you throw up. The whole principle is wrong; it's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't eat steak.
        On censorship, in The Man Who Sold the Moon (1950), p. 188; this may be the origin of a remark which in recent years has sometimes become misattributed to Mark Twain: Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it.
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        • Posted by 4 years ago
          In the movie "Destination Moon" (1950) was a Heinlein story that had private businessmen building the first rocket to go to the Moon, in part also to prepare for national defense. There's a scene where government regulators are racing to the rocket to stops its launch and the astronauts are racing to get it launched before government can stop them!
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      • Posted by  $  nickursis 4 years ago
        Also, I found this in Wikipedia on Heinlein:
        When Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead was published, Heinlein was very favorably impressed, as quoted in "Grumbles..." and mentioned John Galt—the hero in Rand's Atlas Shrugged—as a heroic archetype in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. He was also strongly affected by the religious philosopher P. D. Ouspensky.[12] Freudianism and psychoanalysis were at the height of their influence during the peak of Heinlein's career, and stories such as Time for the Stars indulged in psychological theorizing.
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