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Science fiction and the future - Input Junkie
May 6th, 2015
12:31 pm


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Science fiction and the future
Yes, I know.... science fiction is about the time when it's written.

However, I still get a kick out of it when science fiction gets something thing right (as I recall, there were approximately half a dozen pretty good predictions in The Door into Summer-- I'm especially fond of the classified ads (oh, well) where the man from the past can't even guess what most of the jobs are), a little sad when science fiction misses something fairly big (I believe no one guessed that tattooing and piercing would go mainstream), and kind of amazed when science fiction gets something right (The Machine Stops (1909)-- people use something like the internet to chat with each other, and they get obsessed with keeping up), and then everyone forgets it until it happens in the real world. (Typical computer networks in sf were highly centralized rather than being used for communication between people.)

While it's impossible to predict the future accurately, it's plausible that science fiction gains some mental flexibility by trying. I haven't seen discussion anywhere about the effects of trying to predict.

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(3 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:May 6th, 2015 05:14 pm (UTC)
My favorite story predicting the Internet is "A Logic Named Joe." It gets an amazing amount of stuff right, including malware propagated over the network, yet the main character is the stereotypical TV repairman of the time.
[User Picture]
Date:May 6th, 2015 06:10 pm (UTC)
I just reread it. It did get a tremendous amount right, and also included a lot of current ideas about how artificial intelligence could go wrong.
[User Picture]
Date:May 6th, 2015 06:00 pm (UTC)
During my time in Marine Corps Studies and Analysis, we looked at how past analysts had influenced the way things developed by speculating about the way things would develop. The most famous case is Alfred Thayer Mahan's book, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, which not only looked at historical naval powers, but also speculated about how sea power could influence the 20th century. It became required reading for the naval officers of every major power, and it was practically a blueprint for the Japanese expansion across the western Pacific.
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