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?