I’ve been thinking about Clarke’s third law – Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic -, lately and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s wrong or at least badly worded. I propose this instead:
For any sufficiently high level of ignorance, technology will be indistinguishable from magic
(henceforth know at TC first law 😉
The thing is that Clarke viewed technology from the point of view of the educated man who takes an interest in technology (a.k.a. himself) and he kind of forgets that other kind of people exists, when he formulates his third law. But even so I think that it may be rubbish.
The level of technology isn’t really that important, it doesn’t even have to be that advanced, it’s all a matter of the level of ignorance in the viewer. If you don’t know your Archimedes you might thing a lever works by magic. If you don’t
understand, or at least know about, electromagnetism a TV or radio will be like magic.
It’s not about technology, but about how we view it. Also if it’s about a level of ignorance, we have a chance to do something about it. We can educate our self and learn to understand the world we operate in.
If I get thrown ten thousand years into the future, there will probably be a lot of stuff that I initially will not understand at all and for all I know it could be based on magic, but unless the basic laws of nature
has been revised or technology is based on something really, really different from what we know today (e.i. operating on a level lower that the quantum level), I would probably be able to understand it well enough to be able to determine if it was based on magic.
(I guess that something could be said about the singularity here, but I’m not going too…)