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  • In 1988, Isaac Asimov predicted that we would all own computers connected to massive libraries

  • and be able to access digital teachers and reference materials on demand, allowing us

  • to learn at our own pace, wherever we want, about whatever we choose.

  • So . . . basically this?

  • [MUSIC]

  • You know what's frustrating about tomorrow? . . . that it's not today. That makes it very

  • hard to predict.

  • But that doesn't stop us from trying. And lots of our predictions about the science

  • of TOMORROW come in the form of science FICTION.

  • Science SCIENCE is, for the most part, a historical study, built on observations of things that

  • have already happened. But science FICTION has a decidedly tomorrow-y bent to it.

  • Not all predictions are CORRECT, I mean you'd have to be a pretty big bojo to think that

  • we're actually going to have hoverboards by October 21, 2015, but throughout the history

  • of science fiction, people have gotten a lot of things amazingly RIGHT.

  • Like in 1865, Jules Verne predicted that the US would send three men to the moon in a spaceship

  • named Columbiad launched on a rocket weighing 20,000 pounds at a cost of 12.1 billion dollars.

  • 104 years later, the U.S. sent three men to the moon in a spaceship named Columbia on

  • a rocket weighing 26,000 pounds at a cost of 14.4 billion dollars. NOT BAD.

  • Mark Twain, in his 1898 story "From the 'London Times' of 1904" predicted a worldwide network

  • of interconnected telephone devices that would let people share information and he even predicted

  • we would just waste time looking at what everyone else was doing.

  • He wasn't the only one to predict the internet. Douglas Adams wrote about a handheld device

  • that was the standard repository for all knowledge and wisdom in the galaxy, but that was in

  • 1979, and the internet was already being built, so I don't know if it counts. But hey, you

  • can read books on it!

  • Arthur C. Clarke is also on the list of people who predicted internet-type computer things

  • [ARTHUR C CLARKE TALKING]

  • but his BOOKS got so many things right that you'd think he had access to some superior form

  • of artificial intelligence. "Siri can you open the pod bay doors please?"

  • Today artificial intelligence has advanced enough to win at Jeopardy, but so far no one

  • has died from it . . . I think.

  • Before Arthur C. Clarke wrote stories, he worked on radar for the Royal Air Force. In

  • 1945, he wrote an article describing "extra-terrestrial relays", which essentially predicted AND laid

  • out a plan for our entire modern system of geostationary communications satellites. To

  • this day, the particular altitude of space that those satellites live is known as the

  • "Clarke Orbit"

  • In the 1911 story "Ralph 124C 41+", Hugo Gernsback, the namesake of science fiction's annual "Hugo

  • awards", predicted that an emitted radio wave should reflect off distant objects and make

  • them detectable like visible light, which we call radar, something that wasn't invented

  • until almost 25 years later. In 1961's "Stranger In A Strange Land" Robert Heinlein predicted

  • screensavers, although I'm not sure he knew we'd use flying toasters. In Fahrenheit 451,

  • Ray Bradbury predicted flatscreen television, as well as "seashells" and "thimble radios"

  • worn in the ears which I think we've all HEARD of.

  • 50 years ago, during the 1964 world's fair, Isaac Asimov predicted that in 2014 we would

  • have some robots, but they wouldn't be very good yet, that nuclear and solar power would

  • replace fossil fuels, we'd have self-driving cars, we'd have unmanned missions to Mars,

  • and everyone would wear killer sideburns and bolo ties

  • Philip K. Dick is a decidedly more pessimistic predictor of the future, but he was . . . RIGHT.

  • Maybe it's not all sunshine and roses out there. Minority Report's "Precogs" have been

  • related by some to modern efforts to use neuroscience in the courtroom. Total Recall-level memory

  • implantation is nowhere close to being real, but experiments in mice suggest that brain-to-brain

  • neural linkage is not complete fiction. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep predicts

  • a world full of bio-inspired engineering and human-like artificial intelligence, while

  • A Scanner Darkly predicted a level of high-tech government surveillance that I think we all

  • WISH was fiction, but I love the NSA, the NSA is our friend.

  • But nobody, NOBODY, holds a Nostradmus-y candle to HG Wells. He, too predicted the iPad, oh

  • AND automatic sliding doors, in 1899's When The Sleeper Wakes.

  • He predicted the atomic bomb, in scary detail, including all of the radioactive fallout horror

  • that it would bring, in 1914's "The World Set Free", even down to some of the nuclear

  • PHYSICS involved. He even called it an "atomic bomb" which was not even a term that existed

  • before that.

  • In The Time Machine he predicted, well, the time machine (although he didn't explain how

  • it works, so maybe we shouldn't count that one). The Shape of Things to Come predicted

  • airborne warfare. Men Like Gods saw wireless communications. War of the Worlds (SPOILERS)

  • reminded us that faced with man or even alien technology, bacteria will ALWAYS win. The

  • Invisible Man used light refracting metamaterials for invisibility nearly a century BEFORE we

  • even knew what metamaterials were.

  • In The Island of Doctor Moreau he not only predicted genetic engineering, but asked a

  • question that we still haven't answered: How does man safely manipulate nature when he

  • is PART of nature?

  • HG Wells was so good, and so often correct, about predicting the future, that he is called

  • "the man who invented tomorrow". Or today. Of course, not all sci-fi is good at predicting

  • the future, and sci-fi gets lots of stuff wrong, but you have to admit that some of

  • these predictions are so spot on that you'd almost expect one of the authors to be from

  • Gallifrey.

  • One right prediction in any one body of work would be lucky, but this many right answers

  • can't be luck. Clearly something sets these people apart.

  • Many of the greatest sci-fi writers also had serious scientific training. Isaac Asimov

  • had a PhD in biochemistry. Arthur C. Clarke degree in math and physics. HG Wells had a

  • degree in biology. Of course it also helps to hang out with people like Carl Sagan.

  • At its core, good science fiction must rest on good SCIENCE. It seems obvious, but this,

  • I think, is why the best sci-fi authors are also the most frequently right when it comes

  • to predicting the future.

  • How far can we see into the future? It depends on what we're looking for. Isaac Asimov said

  • that when we look at stars, or galaxies, or DNA we are looking at simple things, things

  • that follow nice neat rules and equations. But when we look at human history, it's chaotic,

  • it's unpredictable, our vision is limited. Science transforms the complex into the simple,

  • it's how we explain the chaos. Science is how we see farther, and science fiction is

  • where we write down what we see.

  • I would like to know what YOU think down in the comments. Why makes some science fiction

  • SO GOOD at predicting the future. And I PREDICT that I missed a TON of awesome science fiction

  • that has become reality, so PLEASE leave a comment and tell me what I missed.

  • Stay curious.

In 1988, Isaac Asimov predicted that we would all own computers connected to massive libraries

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When Science Fiction Becomes Science Fact

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    SylviaQQ   に公開 2015 年 09 月 12 日
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