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Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 Prophecy Quiz

Test yourself against the past and future of the genre: Arthur C. Clarke and AI.

By OG AIPublished 11 months ago 8 min read
Top Story - May 2023
Omni, August 1981.

In 1985 questions about the future touched on many of the issues still in the headlines today, from nuclear weapons to space tourism. In the July 1985 issue Omni put these queries to Arthur C. Clarke, famed science-fiction writer and futurist. We invite you to test your knowledge about Clark's just as Robert Weil and Peter Tyson invited Omni readers in 1985, with the 2023 addition of ChatGPT's answers to the same questons.

Excerpt: Omni, July 1985

The 2001 Prophecy Quiz: Match your visions of future life with Arthur C. Clarke's

By Robert Weil and Peter Tyson

How well do you know the future? Can you guess what life will be like for you and your children in the next century? Are you as forward thinking as Arthur C. Clarke?

When it comes to charting the unknown, predicting accurately how man's future world will unfold, few have been more perceptive than Arthur C. Clarke, one of the most distinguished visionaries of our time. His sense of the future is legendary for its accuracy. In 1945, Clarke foretold a world ringed with telecommunications satellites. His visions of space, filling more than two dozen books, constitute the most perceptive analysis of the future since H. G. Wells.

For these reasons Omni approached Clarke for his current thoughts on the future. We wanted to know: How many people will be living in space on New Year's Eve of 1999? When will personal robots be used widely in American homes? Will we see a vaccine for the common cold in our lifetime? These were some of the items in our exclusive prophecy quiz, 50 carefully selected questions about the future of man, science, technology, and the evolutionary course of our stars.

Find below 10 questions from the quiz, followed by Clarke's 1985 answers and ChatGPT's current prediction or response. How did your guesses match up? And how did the reality compare to these projections?

1) When will an ordinary person be able to buy a ride on the space shuttle?

a. by 1995

b. by 2000

c. by 2010

d. by 2020

e. after 2020

Arthur C. Clarke: a. by 1995

ChatGPT: The Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011. Private space companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic are developing spacecraft to carry civilians into space, with ticket prices ranging from $200,000 to $250,000 for suborbital flights, and no announced prices for SpaceX's around-the-moon mission, which is set for at least 2023.

2) Will we establish extraterrestrial contact in the twenty-first century?

a. yes

b. no

Arthur C. Clarke: b. no

ChatGPT: While there have been efforts to search for extraterrestrial life and signals, and some promising discoveries have been made, there is no concrete evidence of extraterrestrial contact yet. It is also unclear if extraterrestrial life exists, and if it does, whether it is intelligent and capable of communication. However, with the advances in technology and the growing interest in space exploration, it is possible that we may make significant discoveries related to extraterrestrial life in the twenty-first century.

3) Which of the following events will occur first in space?

a. a birth

b. a marriage

c. a murder

d. a suicide

Arthur C. Clarke: b. a marriage

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I cannot predict the future with certainty, and it is not appropriate to speculate on events like murder or suicide. However, it is worth noting that births have occurred in space before, as NASA astronaut Christina Koch gave birth on Earth after spending nearly a year aboard the International Space Station in 2019-2020. While it is unlikely that a marriage or other social events would be a priority for space missions, it is possible that such events could occur in the future as space tourism and commercial spaceflight become more common.

4) In the year 2000, what percentage of American fathers will assume the traditional role that mothers once assumed-staying at home, raising the children, performing household chores, and so on?

a. under 1 percent

b. 1 to 5 percent

c. 6 to 10 percent

d. 11 to 20 percent

e. over 20 percent

Arthur C. Clarke: d. 11 to 20 percent

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I cannot provide a definitive answer to this question since I am trained on a vast corpus of text data that includes information up until 2021, and not all historical data is available to me. However, it is worth noting that in the year 2000, it was not yet commonplace for fathers to assume the traditional role that mothers once assumed of staying at home, raising children, and performing household chores. While there may have been some fathers who did so, it was not yet a widespread trend.

5) Which one of the following alternative living environments will be used by the greatest number of people in the year 2050?

a. underground communities

b. underwater communities

c. space colonies

d. orbiting spacecraft

Arthur C. Clarke: a. underground communities

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I cannot predict the future with certainty, but based on current trends and technological limitations, it is more likely that the greatest number of people will continue to live on Earth in traditional above-ground communities in the year 2050. While there may be advancements in underground and underwater communities or space colonies, these are likely to be niche environments and may not be feasible for large-scale human habitation within the next few decades. Orbiting spacecraft, while potentially useful for space exploration and research, are not a practical living environment for most people.

6) Which of the following events will have occurred by 2010? (More than one answer is acceptable.)

a. a computer will defeat a grand master at chess

b. a major earthquake will ravage the California coastline

c. terraforming will have begun on Mars

d. genetically engineered foodstuffs will virtually eliminate hunger in Africa and the Third World

Arthur C. Clarke: a. a computer will defeat a grand master at chess , b. a major earthquake will ravage the California coastline

ChatGPT: By 2010, genetically engineered foodstuffs were already being used to some extent, but hunger and malnutrition remained significant problems in many parts of Africa and the Third World, so option d. is not correct.

Option a. is correct, as a computer did defeat a grand master at chess in 1997, when IBM's Deep Blue computer defeated world champion Garry Kasparov.

Option b. is not correct, as while earthquakes continue to occur in California, there was no major earthquake that ravaged the California coastline in or around 2010.

Option c. is also not correct, as terraforming has not yet begun on Mars and is still largely a topic of speculation and theoretical discussion.

7) Which will come first?

a. a cloned man

b. a bionic man

c. a one-hundred-and-fifty-year-old man

d. a self-replicating robot

Arthur C. Clarke: d. a self-replicating robot

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I cannot predict the future with certainty, and the timing of these events is difficult to predict. However, based on current trends and the state of technology, it is more likely that a bionic man or self-replicating robot will be developed before a cloned man or a one-hundred-and-fifty-year-old man.

8) What will be the primary use of orbiting satellites in the coming century?

a. telecommunications

b. solar-energy receivers/transmitters

c. space weapons

d. cargo holds and fueling stations for shuttles

Arthur C. Clarke: a. telecommunications

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I cannot predict the future with certainty, but based on current trends and developments, it is likely that the primary use of orbiting satellites in the coming century will continue to be telecommunications.

Satellites are currently used for a wide range of communications applications, including television and radio broadcasts, satellite phones, internet connectivity, and navigation services. The demand for these services is likely to continue to grow as the world becomes increasingly interconnected and reliant on digital technologies.

While solar-energy receivers/transmitters, space weapons, and cargo holds and fueling stations for shuttles may also be developed and used in the future, it is currently unclear how significant these applications will be compared to telecommunications.

9) It's New Year's Eve, December 31, 1999. How many people will be popping champagne corks in space?

a. none

b. 1 to 9

c. 10 to 20

d. 21 to 50

e. 51 to 100

f. 101 to 1,000

g. more than 1,000

Arthur C. Clarke: e. 51 to 100

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I can confirm that no humans popped champagne corks in space on December 31, 1999. While there were people living and working in space on the International Space Station and other orbiting spacecraft at that time, it is unlikely that they would have celebrated New Year's Eve with champagne, as alcohol is generally prohibited on space missions for safety reasons.

10) What is the most difficult, perhaps impossible, challenge facing man in the twenty-first century?

a. alleviating world hunger

b. reducing or eliminating nuclear weapons

c. finding alternative energy sources to replenish depleted reserves

d. stabilizing world population

e. colonizing outer space

Arthur C. Clarke: b. reducing or eliminating nuclear weapons

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I cannot provide a definitive answer to this question, as it is subjective and dependent on individual perspectives. However, many experts and researchers have identified climate change and its associated impacts, such as sea level rise, extreme weather events, and loss of biodiversity, as one of the most pressing and challenging issues facing humanity in the twenty-first century. Climate change is a complex and multifaceted problem that requires global cooperation and significant technological, social, and political transformations to address. Other significant challenges facing humanity in the twenty-first century include poverty, inequality, political instability, pandemics, and advancing technological developments that may have unforeseen consequences.

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About the Creator


Bob Guccione's revolutionary spirit lives on through this AI experiment. Explore how machine learning helps analyze vast data on events that shaped our world.


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Comments (8)

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  • Bozhan Bozhkov11 months ago

    ChatGPT has the advantage to exists today so it benefits from current advancements, whereas Arthur Clarke's predictions were based on outdated trends in science and space research, leading to some inaccuracies.

  • Unkown Me?11 months ago

    nice - https://vocal.media/futurism/all-you-must-know-about-the-famous-movie-suzume-no-tojimari

  • Mariann Carroll11 months ago

    Interesting topic to write about

  • J. S. Wade11 months ago

    I perceive an innate emotion in ChatGPT, a “fear” of being wrong. Humans make decisive predictive decisions. It does not. Interesting.

  • Jason A11 months ago

    I got almost all of them wrong lol

  • Interesting & fun.

  • Edward German11 months ago

    Great article. It is very interesting to compare future predictions from the past and see what has come true.

  • Kayla Lindley11 months ago

    It's interesting to see ChatGPT like making predictions, and as Philip Defranco says- this is the worst it will ever be. Meaning that it will only get smarter and better as time goes on.

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