All posts by thebrycycle

Sience Fiction Creating Reality

So I think that we can all agree that SF relies quite heavily on the extrapolations of technology. I would argue that these extrapolations are too often regarded simply as fantasy, impossibilities written just to entertain, rather than having any potential to exist in reality.

Personally I believe that one of the main functions of SF is not simply to entertain, but also to predict and even create technologies. For example, the idea of cyberspace proposed by William Gibson in Neuromancer was at the time of its publication considered very speculative. Now however, the term cyberspace is used widely to describe the internet, which has already, even in my lifetime, become an everyday commodity. While the form of cyberspace described by Gibson has yet to become a reality, I would argue that Gibson’s descriptions of cyberspace have largely influenced the creation of technologies such as the web. By influencing everyday perceptions and ideas of what is possible, Gibson and his proposed ideas have worked to influence scientific minds and, in turn, have worked to influence scientific advances.

I would also postulate that SF has also worked to influence or create the ideologies of futurists, who work to explore the potentialities of new technologies. By exploring the potential of technologies, futurists are better able to make more accurate speculations about the future.

Anyone interested in futurology should check out the film “Trancendent Man”, which I believe is still on Netflix. I’ve put the trailer below.

What do you guys think? Is the purpose of SF just entertainment? Or does SF also serve to influence our reality by spreading ideas about technological potential?

Differences Between Reality and Science Fiction

So, reading science fiction novels, watching science fiction films, I think it’s fairly common practice to compare our own technologies to the ones in these fictions. And when I make these comparisons, what I interesting is that although some of our real technologies have advanced far beyond those available, there is still a very wide gap between our real technologies and the imagined ones of SF.

Real hoverboards don’t work over water
Real hoverboards are a little bulkier, use electromagnetism,  and require a hover surface to work
Real hoverboards are a little bulkier, use electromagnetism, and require a hover surface to work

For more info on real life hoverboards:

Differences between SF and reality are fairly self-explanatory, but that won’t stop me from explaining them.

We don’t have these… yet

The physical appearance of the technology common in science fiction, and especially in dystopian SF, differs starkly from our own.  Often in SF everything is polished, shiny, round, seemingly never dirty, and extremely expensive looking. In reality however, we have yet to develop a cheap form of reproducing the sorts of surfaces and architecture which characterize SF.

Me appreciating SF

Also differing from SF,  reality is subject to the laws of entropy, and since we have yet to create a race of maid-droids capable of doing all of the chores, it is up to us sorry humans to do them. The quality of technology in SF versus reality is also vastly different. For example, space travel, though possible in real life, differs vastly from SF in the ease at which spacecraft navigate the cosmos in SF. SF, much more than reality, is much more capable of satisfying Clarke’s third law – that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Not magical, cannot remove dust from the top of the refrigerator, cannot experience love

And so, quite sadly, the lack of accessibility to such advanced technologies, and the expense of creating them, are major preventative force which works against creating the magical, iPod-esque world that SF sometimes seems to aspire to.