Dial S for Skynet

When I wrote a few days ago about how Arthur C. Clarke predicted the World Wide Web, I was not aware that he had actually inspired its creation. But since then, I have learned from multiple sources that Tim Berners-Lee cites Clarke’s 1964 short story “Dial F for Frankenstein” as a major inspiration for his invention of the Web.

I have read that story before (in fact, I just reread it; it’s only five pages long), and it has never occurred to me that it might have anything to do with the Web. It describes how the activation of new satellites unites the world’s telephone networks into a single global system that is as complex as a human brain. This global network becomes conscious, with dire consequences for humanity.

“Dial F for Frankenstein” does strike me as a prediction (or, possibly, an inspiration) of something that came decades later. But, with all due respect to Sir Tim, I don’t think it’s the Web. Anyone who has seen Terminator 2: Judgement Day will know exactly what I mean.

2 thoughts on “Dial S for Skynet

  1. Actually, inspiration comes quite often from places that are not directly descriptive of what inspires. I get inspirations for my creative writing by other things I read or interact with and there isn’t always a direct obvious logical follow through from experience to inspiration.
    The ideas he got and the rules he had to subsequently come up with to make it work very easily could have been inspired by that story. Personally, I can see it as possible.

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