How Has Science-Fiction Been Right?
This is a follow-up post to my previous, How Has Science-Fiction Been Wrong? While not all speculative ideas have materialised, there are several areas where sci-fi has influenced scientific and technological progress.
Here are some of them:
Sci-fi has long envisioned humanity's exploration of space. From Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon to Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey, these works inspired generations of scientists and engineers.
Today, we've seen remarkable achievements like the Moon landings (the highly debated 1969 landing notwithstanding), the International Space Station and our ongoing missions to Mars. It's just sad that Ray Bradbury is no longer around to witness it all unfold.
Imagine devices that let us communicate instantaneously across vast distances! We take it for granted now, but this was science-fiction a few decades ago. The concept of wireless communication and handheld devices can be traced way back to stories by H.G Wells and devices used in the original Star Trek series.
Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Robots and AI has gradually shifted from a fiction science concept to reality. Nowadays, most of us will have encountered AI or discussion about it and it is, as far as we can see, becoming an everyday part of our lives.
Our computers have grown more powerful and we have access to more data than ever before. Machine learning has played a crucial role in making AI systems intelligent, often facilitated by internet connectivity. Machines can analyse vast amounts of data and identify patterns, make predictions and improve performance over time.
Advancements have also led to the development of robots capable of performing complex tasks autonomously or in collaboration with humans. It reminds me of Isaac Asimov's I, Robot, which popularised the idea of humanoid robots governed by ethical rules.
But it's not only robots that are getting smarter. Everything from our homes to our cars are now able to make suggestions, find data on command, and even take care of your property while you're away.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
Immersive virtual worlds and augmented realities has been a huge trope in sci-fi for a long time, and one that has influenced the development of our real world technologies like virtual reality headsets used for entertainment.
Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering
Science fiction has explored the possibilities and ethical dilemmas of genetic engineering and biotechnology. Works like Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" and films like "Gattaca" have examined themes of genetic manipulation and designer babies. While we haven't reached those extremes, real-world advances in gene editing technologies like CRISPR have brought us closer to manipulating genetic information.
Sci-fi has often featured wearable devices that enhance human capabilities, things like the wearable computers and communication devices seen in the original Star Trek series.
Nowadays we have smartwatches, fitness trackers and augmented reality glasses that bring us closer to the futuristic visions depicted in science-fiction.
The concept of harnessing clean and renewable energy such as solar power, wind power, or even advanced fusion reactors, has been explored in fiction like Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series.
Today, renewable energy technologies are playing an increasingly significant role in our energy landscape.
While science fiction doesn't directly predict the future, it serves as a source of inspiration for scientists, engineers and innovators. These examples illustrate how imaginative storytelling has shaped our understanding of what's possible.
Do you know of any other examples that are missing from this post? Drop a comment below and share them!