Originally Posted by tamadrm
It's actually more than that.I read an interview with Kubrick years ago,when he had finally gotten tired of people asking what the film was all about.
He spoke about space exploration and type one civiliazations.
He said..."what's the first thing we started doing in the exploration of space,and what do we continue to do to this day"?
We send probes,and we would send robots and autonomous machines to different planets,before sending people.That's what the monoliths were.Machines that could self replicate,sent to educate,contact,evaluate,build and possibley seed life on other worlds.
They were sent to this solar system by a type one civilisation,infinitly more abvanced than ourselves.
Pretty cool stuff.If ET were going to contact us,they would send machines first,which they may or may not,have already done.Baby steps.Think about the panic that would ensue if a space craft landed in the middle of Hyde Park or the White House Lawn.
Having read all of the books in the '2001' series (there are four), yes - the supposition is that the monoliths are indeed just the machines left from a species that has transcended known space and time. That's what the 'stargate' is in the first film when David Bowman transcends our known time and space to become one of the higher beings.
I used to hugely into the very hard Sci-Fi. I always liked 'Rendezvous With Rama' for the same reasons.