Clarkes 3 Laws of Technology and the Future
Arthur C. Clarke was a researcher and writer who established laws about technological potential.
Isaac Asimov, George Orwell, Herbert George Wells and many more science fiction writers have captured, in their works, dystopian worlds, in which almost paranormal and unthinkable phenomena fill the pages of their books.
However, it is Arthur C. Clarke, a British writer and scientist, who set down three laws that tried to predict and explain how scientific advances would occur in the future.In a way that at the time would have been seen today as science fiction.
For him, words like 'impossible' or 'unthinkable' were no more than illusory limitations, given that science, whether human or extraterrestrial, will advance anyway, although with our current mentality we cannot even imagine it.
Next we will see Clarke's lawsand explain the importance of this particular English writer.
Who was Arthur Clarke?
Sir Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2009) was a British writer and scientist who, with his great capacity for inventiveness and imagination, made predictions of what the future of humanity would be like and, also, how the civilizations of intelligent extraterrestrial species could be.
Speaking very briefly about his life, we can say that since he was a child he showed interest in astronomy, even making his own maps of the firmament using an improvised and homemade telescope. During World War II he became a radar technician, serving in the British air force and contributing to the development of a defense system.
At the end of the conflict he wrote a paper called Extra-terrestrial Relays (1945), in which he explained how artificial satellites could facilitate worldwide communications by orbiting around our planet and emitting waves instead of sending information through cables. It is this article that brought him great fame, naming the geostationary orbit after him as the 'Clarke orbit'.
He is considered one of the great writers of science fiction, on a par with great names likeHe is considered one of the great writers of science fiction, on a par with great names such as Isaac Asimov, creator of the three laws of robotics, or George Orwell, who predicted how new technologies could end up controlling public opinion. In his works he expressed his particular vision of the future, being the author of books such as *The Sentinel* (1951), a book that inspired the filming of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) by Stanley Kubrick, and Rendezvous with Rama (1972).
There are three laws that Clarke postulated, making a kind of prediction of how technological progress would take place in humanity. These laws, although they may seem quite obvious in the world we live in, with all kinds of technology advancing and updating at a dizzying pace, were something that ordinary people were unable to conceive during the first half of the twentieth century. But Clarke was no ordinary person.
Clarke's first law
Throughout his works he formulated his three laws, which became famous over time. The first law made its debut in the essay Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination (1962). This law states:
"When a scientist, now old and famous, claims that something is possible, he is probably correct. But when he says it is impossible, he is most likely wrong".
Today, many scientists, such as Michio Kaku or the late Stephen Hawking, agree with this law.. It is believed that most of the inventions of science fiction are possible and, someday, will come true.
The paradoxical thing about this is that, in addition to agreeing with this law, Stephen Hawking was an example of when a very famous scientist errs in presupposing that a particular scientific breakthrough will not be achieved. A few years ago, in 2013, the Higgs boson was discovered, a particle that Hawking defended that it would not be found, and that if it were found, this particle would have an unimaginable destructive power.
Almost seven years have passed and, so far, such a particle has not been shown to be a weapon of mass destruction, nor have there been any worrying incidents.
Clarke's second law
Clarke's second law appeared in a revised edition of his book Profiles of the future (1973). This law is a bit more dynamic than the previous one, which postulates:
"The only way to find the limits of the possible is to go beyond those very limits, and go into what we believe to be impossible."
More than a law, this postulate is an invitation for research not to stop, for science to continue trying to describe reality in the best way and to modify it according to general interests. according to general interests.
There are many things that until relatively recently seemed impossible, such as flying in an airplane, having a video call when half a planet away from each other, or Cancer treatment.
Clarke's third law
But the best known of Clarke's laws is his third and last law, formulated much later than the previous two. With surprising assurance for a person of his time, Clarke asserted:
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
In saying this, Clarke must have had in mind that any civilization, whether it be the human civilization of the future or one of extraterrestrial origin. These civilizations could have had enough time to have developed technology that, even to us in the decade in which we live, would seem like something out of a J. K. Rowling book.
Also, if we look at ourselves, we can understand that, if we managed to travel back in time and show people from the Middle Ages our electronic devices, they would probably think they were witchcraft, no matter how much scientific explanation we gave them. Even when the television was invented, not more than 80 years ago, there were those who were convinced that there were tiny people inside that device.which could not be art of electricity and a screen with lights.
Once his third law was postulated, Clarke stopped saying anything new with respect to this question. The scientist was modest, and considered that if three were enough laws for Isaac Newton, three would also be enough for him.
- Clarke, A. C.; (1989). Appointment with Rama. Barcelona: Ultramar Editores. ISBN 978-84-7386-190-8.
- Clarke, A. C. (1951) The Exploration of Space. New York: Harper & Brothers
- Clarke, A. C. (1962) Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible (1962) New York: Harper & Row
- McAleer, N. (1992). Arthur C. Clarke: The Authorized Biography. Chicago: Contemporary Books. p. 100. ISBN 0-8092-3720-2.
- Clarke, Arthur C. (1984). "The Sentinel". Heavy Metal. Vol. 7 no. 10. p. 57.
- Tuck, Donald H. (1974). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent. p. 101. ISBN 0-911682-20-1.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)