Study Guide

2001: A Space Odyssey Technology

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Even a cursory glance at history will show how important tools and technology have been to humanity. We developed weapons to hunt, ships to sail the oceans, and printing presses to share knowledge across countries and generations. At one point, technology made our lives so chill that mankind collectively dumped hundreds of millions of hours into a simulator where we slingshot vengeful birds into surprisingly industrious pigs. That's how you know you've really made it as a species.

2001: A Space Odyssey considers this history and proposes that technology is a fundamental element of what it means to be human. In the film, our evolution as a species in intricately connected with our technology, from our African ancestors to our astronauts. The question then becomes: Where will this evolutionary relationship take us in the future? And what will the consequences be along the way? Kubrick aimed to give us a breathtaking and mind-blowing look at what could be possible.

Questions About Technology

  1. Do you agree with our reading that technology is the key element of what it means to be human? If yes, why, and where do you see this being shown in the film? If no, when what do you see as that key element and where do you see examples in the film?
  2. Do you think the film is saying that technology has ultimately been beneficial or detrimental for mankind?
  3. Does HAL evolve? If so, is this the scariest idea ever?
  4. What does Bowman's destruction of HAL imply about our relationship with our technology?

Chew on This

Once HAL begins to fear its own death, it stops becoming a technology. At this point, it's become a new species in competition with humanity for survival.

Even though Bowman destroys HAL's higher functions, he's still totally dependent on the computer to complete the mission.

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