From Technology to Transcendence: Humanity's Evolutionary Journey in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

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Fry, Carrol L. "From Technology to Transcendence: Humanity's Evolutionary Journey in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY." Extrapolation 44.3 (2003): 331-43. Available with subscription or for money from Liverpool UP, as of June 2022, here.[1]

Notes tool-use in "The Dawn of Man" opening is a weapon and that "in Kubrick's anti-Eden, the original sin he will trace through the millennia to the next state of evolution is humanity's capacity for violence against our own species in territorial disputes" (p. 335), as hinted at with the American Floyd and the Russian on the space station. "The segue from 'The Dawn of Man' to 2001 brings viewers to what seems a technological utopia. But the camera presents a consistency ironic vision of humanity's relationship with its technology, often with wry humor," and eventually with bringing together humans and our machines as we become more machine-like, and "machines, we discover in the 'To Jupiter' segment may come to behave like humans" (p. 336) — i.e., with HAL 9000.

In its central parts, "The film repeatedly invites us to see the contrast between the sophistication of the technology in 2001 and the banality of human conversation," until we get to the non-human conversation between "the film's only really interesting character, HAL, the artificial-intelligence computer" and in its AI capabilities, "the end result of technology: a machine that equals or exceeds human intelligence and far exceeds humanity's ability to absorb and process information" — and perhaps have, as well as behave as if "he" has, "genuine emotions" (pp. 337-38).

Significantly, Fry sees "The ship [...] as a visual trope for the cybernetic world possible in the last stage of technology, with HAL as the pantheistic god machine whose electronic tendrils reach every part of that world" on Discovery (p. 338).

Fry handles the transcendence in the final portion of the film in what she suggests is an "appropriate frame of reference" in "Buddhist and Hindu traditions" (p. 340).

RDE, finishing, 21Jun22