One of science fiction’s unique powers, when compared to other genres of fiction, is its ability to facilitate and inspire technological change. What may be considered a speculative pipe dream, by some, inspires others to actually fulfill science fiction’s prophecy.
We owe a good deal of technology we no longer think twice about to science fiction. Looking back, the submarine was predicted by Jules Verne in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (which is part of the reason why the Disney version has magic, even though submarines had been around for decades when it was made: it portrays the retro-futuristic sci-fi Victorian submarine Verne envisioned, not a modern sub). Or look at the modern Internet, which was largely inspired by books like Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and Neuromancer by William Gibson, which in turn tried to extrapolate the Internet of the age onto a future technology. Sci-fi is not only inspired by current technology, but inspires it in turn. The cycle is recursive.
CNet has a look at ten sci-fi works that inspired the world we live in today: Second Life inspired by Blade Runner, digital touch screens by Minority Report and WiFi and satellite communications by the creator of 2001. While it’s debatable whether some of these examples inspired future tech, or happened to just guess the future right, it’s a great article, well worth musing over.
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