Are we are being watched from afar?

If you listen to the hotel room sequence, you’ll hear grunts and eeks. Those aren’t just sound effects Kubrick added, they’re from a Ligeti piece called “Adventures,” which I don’t think was credited in the movie. I don’t remember all the details, but Ligeti was not happy about Kubrick taking random bits from the piece - though the piece is all more or less random pieces like that. There was quite a row about it. The unaltered piece appears on my CD from 1996. It was not on the original LP soundtrack.
Kubrick never appeared to have bothered to ask Ligeti’s permission to use any of his works. ( Cite ) But I’ve read (and don’t have a cite handy for) that Ligeti was particularly annoyed about Adventures.

Sorry to learn this, but thank you very much for filling me in!

(Ligeti isn’t really my kinda – I’m a Vivaldi fan – but artistic integrity needs honoring.)

Old alien artifacts are hardly a new concept - even Andre Norton had that in her science fiction books.
I’m way behind on my sf watching - still catching up on Red Dwarf and Babylon 5 now.

Many, perhaps most, of us are still pre-Copernican. Especially a lot of religious people. Not that they literally think the universe revolves around us, but in their inability to appreciate deep time and belief that the universe was created for us, they are almost still there.

He made a fortune on the soundtrack, and I assume he sold a lot of music thanks to him being known from 2001, but I don’t blame him for being mad.

In most science fiction–especially cinematic science fiction–the alien artifacts are just a McGuffin to motivate the characters and give them a powerup in their final confrontation. The Expanse treats the artifacts as essentially a character with its own unfathomable motivations and agenda, and for the most part the actual plot conflicts are petty and political confrontations between humans or political factions, thus avoiding the premise of figuring out how to manipulate the technology to resolve the plot. The premise isn’t completely original–Forbidden Planet did essentially the same thing, and as you note, the discovery of alien artifacts is a standard trope of science fiction–but it handles this in a non-trivial way that enhances the existing conflicts rather that just becoming the plot in and of itself.

Stranger

Explorers studying a planet that had been devastated by a supernova found a trove of artifacts from the ancient civilization that had inhabited that world. Naturally, the placement of the system and the timing of the cataclysm indicated that it could only have been Star of the Magi.

– A.C. Clarke ('60s vintage, I think)