Quote attribution

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Paul Robichaux

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Oct 22, 1991, 2:42:45 PM10/22/91
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In <58...@apple.Apple.COM> fl...@apple.com (Charles Flaig) writes:
>Who originally came up with the quote "Any sufficiently advanced technology
>is indistinguishable from magic"? I would like to find out the author's name,
>the book title, year it was printed, and any correction to the quote if I got
>it wrong. I suspect Niven, Clark, or Asimov, but haven't been able to track
>it down....

Close... it was indded Arthur C. Clarke.

-Paul

>Thanks in advance,

>--Charles
> fl...@apple.com
--
--
Paul Robichaux | Disclaimer: These are my opinions, not
robi...@freedom.msfc.nasa.gov | NTI's or NASA's.
"And the knowledge that they fear / Is a weapon to be used against them" - Rush

Charles Flaig

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Oct 22, 1991, 2:12:58 PM10/22/91
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Got a question for all you sf buffs out there, and this seems like the place
to post it.

Who originally came up with the quote "Any sufficiently advanced technology
is indistinguishable from magic"? I would like to find out the author's name,
the book title, year it was printed, and any correction to the quote if I got
it wrong. I suspect Niven, Clark, or Asimov, but haven't been able to track
it down....

Thanks in advance,

--Charles
fl...@apple.com

Russ Campbell

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Oct 22, 1991, 2:58:29 PM10/22/91
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Mr. Clarke (spelled with a silent 'e') is the source you're looking for.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
| Russell D. Campbell : The Breakfast of Champions isn't |
| rca...@cac.washington.edu : cereal, it's the competition! |
| (206)543-0846 @UW in Seattle : - David Lee Roth |
|------------------------------------------------------------------|
| Anyone can have an opinion, but very few people ever bother to |
| educate themselves before expressing one. |
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

James T. Green

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Oct 23, 1991, 2:25:27 PM10/23/91
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In article <58...@apple.Apple.COM> fl...@apple.com (Charles Flaig) writes:
>Got a question for all you sf buffs out there, and this seems like the place
>to post it.
>
>Who originally came up with the quote "Any sufficiently advanced technology
>is indistinguishable from magic"? I would like to find out the author's name,
>the book title, year it was printed, and any correction to the quote if I got
>it wrong. I suspect Niven, Clark, or Asimov, but haven't been able to track
>it down....
>

It was Clark. I don't know where it's from though. I'd guess some
non-fiction article of his.

/~~~(-: James T. Green :-)~~~~(-: jgr...@eros.calpoly.edu :-)~~~\
| "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving |
| the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the |
| Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." |
| <John F. Kennedy; May 25, 1961> |

George Heintzelman

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Oct 23, 1991, 1:26:17 AM10/23/91
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You ask:

Who originally came up with the quote "Any sufficiently advanced technology
is indistinguishable from magic"? I would like to find out the author's name,
the book title, year it was printed, and any correction to the quote if I got
it wrong. I suspect Niven, Clark, or Asimov, but haven't been able to track
it down....

I am pretty sure that this was said by Arthur C. Clarke. I am also prett
sure it should be a FAQ, if it isn't already.

George Heintzelman
hei...@yalevm.ycc.yale.edu

Robert McGrath

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Oct 23, 1991, 9:57:24 AM10/23/91
to

One printed source of the quote is:
Arthur C. Clarke, "Report on Planet Three", Harper and Row, 1972.

The chapter forward indicates that it is taken from a speech to the
American Institute of Architects, given in May 1967.

"Clarke's First Law: 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.

Second Law: The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go
beyond them into the impossible.

Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable
from magic."
Report On Planet Three, pp. 129-130.

Tom Kuchar

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Oct 23, 1991, 11:10:27 AM10/23/91
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In article <58...@apple.Apple.COM> fl...@apple.com (Charles Flaig) writes:
>
>Who originally came up with the quote "Any sufficiently advanced technology
>is indistinguishable from magic"? I would like to find out the author's name,
>the book title, year it was printed,

Arthur Clark said (wrote) it. I'm not sure of the book, but `Childhood's End'
comes to mind.


Tom Kuchar
kuc...@buast7.bu.edu
Department of Astronomy
Boston Univerity

Steve Linton

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Oct 23, 1991, 6:36:11 AM10/23/91
to
Clarke, in "Profiles of the Future"

Gary Benson

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Oct 30, 1991, 6:28:02 PM10/30/91
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In article <58...@apple.Apple.COM> fl...@apple.com (Charles Flaig) writes:
>Got a question for all you sf buffs out there, and this seems like the place
>to post it.
>
>Who originally came up with the quote "Any sufficiently advanced technology
>is indistinguishable from magic"? I would like to find out the author's name,
>the book title, year it was printed, and any correction to the quote if I got
>it wrong. I suspect Niven, Clark, or Asimov, but haven't been able to track
>it down....

Sorry I can't give an attribution, but my quotes directory has:

Any smoothly functioning technology will have the appearance of magic.
-Arthur C. Clarke


My collection also has this quote, attributed to "Anonymous":

Any sufficiently clumsy magic will have the appearance of technology.
--
Gary Benson -_-_-_-_-_-...@fluke.com_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-

Once established, it has prospered and spread, even in the face of
determined opposition from the computing establishment. We feel sure
that the UNIX system is a computing phenomenon whose full influence has
not yet been experienced. -John Lions, 1979

Malcolm J. Harwood

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Oct 31, 1991, 5:55:30 AM10/31/91
to

>>Who originally came up with the quote "Any sufficiently advanced technology
>>is indistinguishable from magic"? I would like to find out the author's name,
>>the book title, year it was printed, and any correction to the quote if I got
>>it wrong. I suspect Niven, Clark, or Asimov, but haven't been able to track
>>it down....

>Sorry I can't give an attribution, but my quotes directory has:

> Any smoothly functioning technology will have the appearance of magic.
> -Arthur C. Clarke


>My collection also has this quote, attributed to "Anonymous":

> Any sufficiently clumsy magic will have the appearance of technology.
>--

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"

is A.C.Clarke's third law - the others being:
1) If an elderly and distunguished scientist says something is possible,
it almost certainly is.
2) If an elderly and distunguished scientist says something is impossible,
it probably isn't.

I don't think the 'Any smoothly functioning technology will have the appearance of magic.' is Clarkes, but I may be wrong.

Malcolm.


--
Malcolm J. Harwood
Department of Computer Science, University of Manchester, England
Email: harw...@uk.ac.man.cs.p4

Gym Z. Quirk

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Nov 1, 1991, 3:52:27 PM11/1/91
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In article <harwoodm....@p4.cs.man.ac.uk> harw...@p4.cs.man.ac.uk (Malcolm J. Harwood) writes:
>"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"
>is A.C.Clarke's third law - the others being:
> 1) If an elderly and distunguished scientist says something is possible,
> it almost certainly is.
>2) If an elderly and distunguished scientist says something is impossible,
>it probably isn't.

Not quite. The three listed in my copy of _Report on Planet Three_
(Anyone remember this one? ;-) are...

1) If an elderly and distinguished scientist states that something is
possible, he is quite probably correct. If said elderly and
distinguished scientist states that something is impossible, he is
quite probably incorrect.

2) A sufficiently advanced technology is industinguishable from magic.

3) The only way to define the bounds of the knowable is to go beyond
them into the unknowable.


>Malcolm.

--
Capt. Gym Z. Quirk (Known to some as Taki Kogoma) tko...@triton.unm.edu
Nervous observer of the "Grand Startrek reorg" of Oct '91
R.I.P Gene Roddenberry. I may not have agreed with everything you
said, but you will be missed...

Andrew A. Anda

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Nov 1, 1991, 5:36:41 PM11/1/91
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In article <1991Oct30.2...@tc.fluke.COM> i...@tc.fluke.COM (Gary Benson) writes:
>In article <58...@apple.Apple.COM> fl...@apple.com (Charles Flaig) writes:
...

>>Who originally came up with the quote "Any sufficiently advanced technology
>>is indistinguishable from magic"? I would like to find out the author's name,
...
A. C. Clarke. But Barry Gehm is responsible for observing the contrapositive:
"Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficient."

&y&a
--
Andrew Allen Anda, (University of Minnesota: an...@cs.umn.edu)
Computer Science Dept., 4-192 EE/CSci Bldg.,
200 Union St. S.E.,
Mpls., MN 55455

Mike Van Pelt

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Nov 4, 1991, 2:21:56 PM11/4/91
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In article <harwoodm....@p4.cs.man.ac.uk> harw...@p4.cs.man.ac.uk (Malcolm J. Harwood) writes:
>"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"
>is A.C.Clarke's third law - the others being:
>1) If an elderly and distunguished scientist says something is possible,
> it almost certainly is.
>2) If an elderly and distunguished scientist says something is impossible,
> it probably isn't.

There's also Law 2a: "If, however, the thing the elderly and
distinguished scientist says is impossible is siezed upon with great
enthusiasm by masses of scientifically uneducated people, and trumpted
far and wide in the tabloids, then the elderly and distinguished
scientist is probably correct after all."
--
Mike Van Pelt "Nobody's life, liberty, or property
Headland Technology/Video 7 are safe while Congress is in session."
...ames!vsi1!hsv3!mvp -- Will Rogers
m...@hsv3.lsil.com

David Goldfarb

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Nov 4, 1991, 11:55:14 PM11/4/91
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In article <11...@hsv3.UUCP> m...@hsv3.UUCP (Mike Van Pelt) writes:
)In article <harwoodm....@p4.cs.man.ac.uk> harw...@p4.cs.man.ac.uk (Malcolm J. Harwood) writes:
)>"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"
)>is A.C.Clarke's third law - the others being:
)>1) If an elderly and distunguished scientist says something is possible,
)> it almost certainly is.
)>2) If an elderly and distunguished scientist says something is impossible,
)> it probably isn't.
)
)There's also Law 2a: "If, however, the thing the elderly and
)distinguished scientist says is impossible is siezed upon with great
)enthusiasm by masses of scientifically uneducated people, and trumpted
)far and wide in the tabloids, then the elderly and distinguished
)scientist is probably correct after all."

In most versions of Clarke's Three Laws, 1) and 2) here are
one single law. The third, as has been noted, is "The only way to know
the limits of the possible is to go a little way beyond them into the
impossible."

Law 2a is due to Isaac Asimov.

)--
)Mike Van Pelt

David Goldfarb gold...@ocf.berkeley.edu (Insert standard disclaimer)
"Obviously proud at knowing a word that I did not know, Horace [Gold]
enunciated clearly and distinctly, 'Meretricious!'
Whereupon I replied, 'And a Happy New Year to you.'" -- Isaac Asimov

Mark Brader

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Nov 13, 1991, 7:28:55 AM11/13/91
to
Well, it seems that none of the people who have posted versions of
Clarke's Laws to this group recently has yet gotten them quite right.
The three postings I saw that were close were one from Malcolm J. Harwood,
one from David Goldfarb that was partly a response to it, and the FAQ
list, whose compiler might wish to incorporate the rest of this posting.

Clarke's Law, later Clarke's First Law, can be found in the essay
"Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination", in the collection
"Profiles of the Future", 1962, revised 1973, Harper & Row, paperback
by Popular Library, ISBN 0-445-04061-0. It reads:

# [1] 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.

Note that the adverbs in the two sentences are different. Clarke continues:

# Perhaps the adjective "elderly" requires definition. In physics,
# mathematics, and astronautics it means over thirty; in the other
# disciplines, senile decay is sometimes postponed to the forties.
# There are, of course, glorious exceptions; but as every researcher
# just out of college knows, scientists of over fifty are good for
# nothing but board meetings, and should at all costs be kept out
# of the laboratory!

Isaac Asimov added a further comment with Asimov's Corollary to Clarke's
Law, which he expounded in an essay logically titled "Asimov's Corollary".
This appeared in the February 1977 issue of F&SF, and can be found in the
collection "Quasar, Quasar, Burning Bright", 1978, Doubleday; no ISBN on
my copy. Asimov's Corollary reads:

% [1AC] When, however, the lay public rallies round an
% idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly
% scientists and supports that idea with great fervor
% and emotion -- the distinguished but elderly
% scientists are then, after all, probably right.


So much for Clarke's First Law. A few pages later on, in the final
paragraph of the same essay, Clarke writes:

# [2] But the only way of discovering the limits of the
# possible is to venture a little way past them into
# the impossible.

To this he attaches a footnote:

# The French edition of [presumably, the first edition of] this
# book rather surprised me by calling this Clarke's Second Law.
# (See page [number] for the First, which is now rather well-
# known.) I accept the label, and have also formulated a Third:
#
# [3] Any sufficiently advanced technology is
# indistinguishable from magic.
#
# As three laws were good enough for Newton, I have modestly
# decided to stop there.
--
Mark Brader, SoftQuad Inc., Toronto, utzoo!sq!msb, m...@sq.com
We can design a system that's proof against accident and stupidity;
but we CAN'T design one that's proof against deliberate malice.
-- a spaceship designer in Arthur C. Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey"

Original text in this article is in the public domain.

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