On the Meaning of Magic

People who like to slag on Apple regularly complain about their use of the term “magical” to describe the iPad.  For instance:

I’ll tell you what is magical. Harry Potter, unicorns and sawing women in half are magical. Making a computer or a bloody Mac takes no magic at all, it takes silicon and factories, and workers, and sweat, and designers, and marketing people.

Seems to me that Apple doesn’t mean that kind of magic.  Rather, Apple is referencing Arthur C. Clarke’s widely known third law:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

So, Apple is really making a claim about how advanced their tech is, not about its supernatural powers.  Actually, they probably meant it the way Gregory Benford restated it in Foundations End:

Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.

FWIW, it’s not such a jump to substitute “religion” for “magic”. . .

%d bloggers like this: