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?

8 thoughts on “Sience Fiction Creating Reality”

  1. I’m not sure if I would say that it is a function or a purpose of science fiction to create new technologies, but I would definitely call it a positive side benefit. Ideas that are commonplace today, like touchscreen technology, were found only in science fiction a few short years ago. If you can imagine it, it can become a reality, and there is so much being imagined in science fiction.

    I may not know much about Star Trek, but I think this meme might sum up what you’re thinking about:
    http://www.mindslapmedia.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Screenshot_2013-07-15-09-35-44.png

    1. I agree that Science Fiction serves a much higher function than to just entertain. Personally as I have come to understand it, that’s what sort of seperates fantasy and science fiction. I’m an avid fantasy reader but I have found a lot of the fantasy stories that are being written may have a moral code to be discovered but there isnt really a philosophical or theological argument that the story is illustrating.
      That’s why this class has been so fascinating because science fiction has everything to do with this “futureology” as you called it, this understanding of current technologies and politics and world events, and with the writer being a visionary, locating a direction for technology to advance in. I very much agree that some technologies would have started with an author, such as the touch screen example, because it is those who can imagine up new technologies that put it in our minds, and then scientists look into it and discover that this can be a real technology and have real applications.

  2. This is a concept that may apply more to science fiction than to, say, fantasy, or horror, but it seems that art resembles reality and reality resembles art in so many facets. Technology, as well as things like food, stories, modes of expression and interaction. Tech has the advantage of being based, usually, on at least one touchstone of real science.

    Perhaps it’s a mode of reflecting our social ideas about the future as well. Most fiction dealing with the future seems to fall into the genres of SF or Horror (wow, that’s indicative, isn’t it?) and over the last 20 or 30 years has progressively become more pessimistic. We’re all about the apocalypse now. Who needs flying cars and hover boards like McFly? The biggest risk, then, becomes if the art that reality begins to reflect is that pessimistic, destructive stuff.

    Siri is already too sassy for her own good. Proper AI can’t be far off between demand for fancier technology and lazier and/or busier people needing to delegate more and more of their information tasks away.

  3. I really like your discussion re: how technologies conceived through science fiction might function to predict, inspire or inform scientific discourse/development . I suppose this potential exists because, like all imaginative/creative/artistic mediums, science fiction possesses the capacity to engage in what is outside of the ‘real’ or ‘known’. However, the way in which science fiction engages in the act of conceptualizing new technologies is quite unique to the genre.

  4. I don’t think that technology needs to be the focus of good SF. I think SF is (and has to be) about how society reacts to the technology. More specifically, how they react to the changes in their life due to the technology. All SF is a prediction of sorts, but not necessarily about the science aspect. That said, I do agree that certain SF works don’t seem to be saying anything about technology or society and exist only for entertainment. And I don’t think that will change anytime soon, because damn they are fun to experience.

  5. I believe that Science fiction at the moment of its creation is made for the soul purpose of just entertainment and what the author creates in that world is up to themselves. However so much technology is already based on ideas that were originally created for a science fiction scenario. One item that has bee created because of science fiction’s impact on society is the oculus rift. This devise although it is still far from making virtual realities is a lot closer and was created in these genres to provide a “cool” way to interact with ships, others (people), and so on. This idea although simple has allowed for new ideas to flood in although the oculus rift is only being currently used to further gaming, it has plenty of potential for the future

  6. I agree that out of science fiction, a lot of technologies have been developed. Star Trek very much being one of them. A further info graphic I found to Erin42’s is this one: http://sortable.com/blog/star-trek-is-just-around-the-corner/
    I personally think that a lot of what comes out of is half prediction of the future and half inspires people to try and create the actual thing. If we see a flying car in a science fiction movie, there is going to be someone somewhere who is going to try and make a car fly. Therefore, I think it is a bit of both, in the sense that is is both the imagination of the author and the advancement of technology that causes devices from books and films to be created.

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