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Science fiction writers originally predicted or inspired many technologies we use today. One notable example is the tablet computer concept Arthur C. Clarke predicted in his 1968 novel “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In the novel, characters use devices called “Newspads” to access news and information, resembling the modern tablet.
Another example is the idea of video calling, which various science fiction writers envisioned. The concept is famously depicted in the 1960s television series “Star Trek,” where characters use communication devices for audio and video communication. Today, video calling is a common feature in many communication platforms.
The symbiotic relationship between a science fiction writer and technology is not merely coincidental but a dynamic interplay that has shaped the innovation trajectory.
Science fiction has often served as a source of inspiration for inventors and technologists, influencing the development of real-world technologies in ways that were once only imagined in literature.
Science Fiction’s Role in Shaping the Future of Technology
Researchers have uncovered a profound connection between the speculative worlds depicted in books, TV shows, and movies and the evolution of real-world technology.
Studies reveal that outlining your novel, creating graphics, and collaborating with scientists create a feedback loop where fictional narratives influence technological research and stimulate novel ideas.
It is fair that you give credit to a science fiction writer if you find any of these eleven inventions useful.
1- Smart Watches:
When Chester Gould gave his police officer in the comic strip “Dick Tracy” a two-way radio in 1946, fans got a glimpse of the future. Gould added the video in 1964. Smartwatches don’t have this feature yet, but it will be added.
Gould may have gotten the idea for the video watch from “The Jetsons.” In 1962, Elroy Jetson, a boy on “The Jetsons,” used his watch to watch “The Flintstones,” another cartoon show made by the same company, and to make and receive calls.
A small “hunter seeker” killer drone is envisioned in Frank Herbert’s 1965 book “Dune,” while A.I.V.s are pervasive in Star Wars. The truth is that a science fiction writer and films showed drones before they were used, first by the military and then for business and fun in the last few decades.
2006 the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration gave out its first business drone clearance. Over the next eight years, it gave out 16 more. Then, when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in 2013 that the company was considering using drones to send goods, excitement went through the roof.
After that, in 2018, the agency gave out 100,000 licenses for remote pilots, which are needed to fly a drone.
Drones have grown in uses that match this, such as for overhead photography, helping in emergencies, and keeping a close eye on crops in agriculture. And, as Raymond Z.
Gallun’s 1936 short story “The Scarab” promised and as made famous by the TV show “Black Mirror,” robo-bees may one day help fertilize our crops: In 2018, Wal-Mart put in for a license for tiny drones that can find pollen and spread it.
3- 3D Holograms:
Scientists have been hard at work perfecting this technology, maybe influenced by the moment in “Star Wars” when Princess Leia asks Obi-Wan Kenobi for aid via a holographic image projected by the droid R2D2.
Holography can now be used in many ways. In 2019, it will bring rock and roll legends Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison “back to life” in concert with real players.
4- Flying Cars:
As the crow flies, moving in a straight line is the quickest route from point A to point B. The Earth’s hilly and watery surface makes that straight shot difficult most of the time, which slows us down.
It’s no surprise that science fiction writer takes us to space. Flying cars first appeared in Ian Fleming’s 1964 book “Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car,” which was later made into a 1968 movie.
Author Fleming is said to have based his children’s book on the real-life Chitty Bang Bang cars made by British race car driver and auto engineer Count Louis Vorow Zborowski.
The real Chitties didn’t fly, but Chitty 4 (later called “Babs”), the last car in the line, set a land-speed record of 171 mph in 1926. The best speed for a flying car was set in 2018 at 448.757 mph, but who knows how fast they will go?
This type of “autonomous urban aircraft” is being worked on by private companies, the military, and NASA. By 2040, these flying vehicles—which can carry at least one person and aren’t drones because of that—should be commonplace.
5- Cell Phones:
In 1966, the TV show “Star Trek” introduced the communicator, a flip phone. After thirty years, Motorola released the first flip phone, the StarTAC, to honor the show. This is considered one of the best examples of this.
Interestingly, the people who made “Star Trek” also gave the crew members the tricorder. This handheld device collected and saved information from the worlds Captain Kirk and his team visited. They might have thought of the smartphone before anyone else if they had thought to mix the two.
In Ray Bradbury’s 1953 book “Fahrenheit 451,” the protagonists wear earbuds that resemble Bluetooth and listen to “an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk, coming in on the shore of unsleeping mind.” They also wear seashells and tiny radios in their ears. That sounds like portable earbuds, doesn’t it?
Machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence, is used to power speech recognition, which some people think will eliminate the need for buttons and keypads. Science fiction writers think that by 2024, the market for the technology will have grown almost three times, from $7.5 billion in 2018 to $21.5 billion.
Stanley G. Weinbaum’s 1935 write a good story, “Pygmalion’s Spectacles,” was the first to mention VR, complete with goggles. The 1982 movie “Tron” by Steven Lisberger also imagines going into a digital world, and the 1992 book “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson talks about VR in a way that sounds familiar today:
“This beam moves back and forth across Hiro’s goggles lenses thanks to electronic mirrors inside the computer. It works a lot like how an electron beam in a TV paints the inside of the titular Tube.” The picture from it stands in front of Hiro’s view of reality.
That means Hiro isn’t here at all. He is in a computer-made world, drawing on his glasses and playing music in his headphones.
Today’s VR looks like what these writers thought it would be like. Goggles with 3D pictures and sound let you journey into other places. With haptic gloves, we can feel things in our alternate world, and scientists are also working on adding tastes and smells to the experience.
8- Video Calls:
People use Zoom, FaceTime, WeChat (in China), and other video-chat apps for business meetings and personal calls. People use WhatsApp daily to make video calls for 340 million minutes. It’s hard to remember how amazing (and impossible) this technology seemed not long ago.
Science fiction writers have long imagined being able to see the face of the person you’re talking to on the phone. Hugo Gernsback’s 1911 book “Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660” was the first to do this, with a video conferencing device called the “telephoto.” A videophone placed on the wall was shown in the German movie “Metropolis,” which came out in 1927, and “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
What is the fundamental difference between fiction and nonfiction book publishing?
The fundamental difference lies in the content of the books. Fictional books are created from the author’s imagination. They are not based on real events or facts, while nonfiction books are grounded in reality, presenting factual information, real events, or the author’s experiences.
Why should I consider incorporating technological predictions while writing fiction books?
Predicting future technologies can add a layer of realism and relevance to your technical writing jobs. It allows readers to connect with your story deeper and contemplate the potential impact of advancements on society.
Can you give the benefits of ghostwriting work whose abilities were originally predicted by science fiction writers?
Science fiction writers frequently explore diverse worlds, cultures, and perspectives. A ghostwriter for a book with a background in science fiction can bring this skill to the table, enhancing the richness and diversity of content across different genres.
The creative minds of science fiction writers have frequently managed to predict technological advancements that have come to pass. Whether space travel, moon landings, video calls, the internet, or virtual reality, many sci-fi predictions have transitioned from fantasy to everyday reality.
It means that today’s science fiction could be the blueprint for tomorrow’s reality, continually challenging us to redefine the boundaries of what’s possible.