Friday, September 7, 2018

Does Science Fiction Influence Technology?

Are there gadgets or ideas we have today that were once written about in science fiction novels?

Could the things we see in sci-fi novels today be what's in our future?

I've heard this question asked and answered before and the answer is of course, yes. But how? This seems like a topic I should know lots about, but besides knowing the answer was yes, I was at a loss as to why, so, I did some digging.

From Concept to Reality

Emerging Technology from the arXiv wrote an article When science fiction inspires real technology which gives some prime examples of technology written about in science fiction that later become a reality. Such as Dick Tracy's video wristwatch and Arthur C. Clark describing how radio signals could bounce off of satellites.

I'm currently reading The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. There is much I love about this book and the stories inside (I'm sure I'll write a review as well so keep an eye for it.). In each chapter, which reads like a short story, there are ideas and concepts of life that were not a reality when Bradbury wrote the book.

Credit: J. M. Eddins Jr/US Air Force
In the chapter, The Veldt, a family is distraught when their children are spending too much time in the nursery. The reader goes on to learn that the nursery is actually a holographic game room. Now while we may not have whole rooms of our houses today for virtual reality gameplay, the concept is not far fetched to me given the trajectory of VR.

As a sci-fi writer, I find this mind-blowing exciting! Writers are creators, drafting ideas in our mind of the worlds we create for our stories. When you are writing a sci-fi story, odds are it will have futuristic elements. This means spending time thinking and conceptualizing future ways of doing things.

Where do these ideas come from?

We know that sci-fi can influence technology, but how do sci-fi writers come up with these ideas?

When your aim is to write a sci-fi story you are going to have to think about what the technology will look like and be in the world you are creating. Much like fantasy writing, sci-fi needs lots of world building for the story.

From my own experience, I know I think about what is available today that wasn't in 1994 when I was just a little fourth grader. I'm apart of a generation that has grown up in the digital revolution. When I see how that growth has happened and I think of the future, it opens my mind up to many ideas of what life could be like.

We see this today in our current sci-fi stories. Take Altered Carbon for example. A story set in the far future where the technology to download our conscious exists. This mear fact creates a whole new dynamic to the social systems of that world.

When you are creating the world for your sci-fi story not only do you have to think of what technology you want your world to have but what the implications of this technology create. Any new technology that is introduced is going to change society. We have seen this in our reality over and over again.

This gets me excited and eager to let my imagination go wild with creating and world building for my stories. There is so much to consider and think about when you are world building a sci-fi story. Then the notion that the ideas you come up with could one day inspire an inventor and become a reality is pretty crazy cool.