RCL #9- TED talk draft

Topic: Science Fiction’s effect on technology

Opener:  remember in 2015 when everyone freaked out about back to the future?

  • We evaluated ourselves based on science fiction,
    • Fell short in some places (no hoverboards or flying cars)
    • Achieved goals in others (google glass, video calling, biometrics)
    • Went WAY beyond in some areas (internet!)

So, was what Back to the Future right just a lucky guess, or is there more going on?


Not only does science fiction predict the future of technology but also influences it.


Is it just luck? Or is it more….. YES it is something more!

  • Sci Fi gets people interested in science in the first place! It sparks interest and inspires new scientists
  • Puts ideas into people’s minds….
    • Actual examples that inventors have admitted to getting from sci fi (submarines, helicopters, cellphones, TASER (aka Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle….
  • Provides good way to prototype ideas and tech not realized yet
    • Safe, harmless way to explore implications of future technology and societal effects or prerequisites tied to that technology’s existence
    • This is used by companies today (hire sci fi writers to test out what the world would look like with x technology)
      • Examples: Intel’s 21st century robot, Essex University’s eDesk
    • But just in general, it lets us play out ideas and explore possibilities before they even happen.  People were writing about space travel and its possibilities before the first rockets were invented
  • High-profile sci fi (films, mostly) have more funds than scientists and often in the course of producing sci fi, make major contributions to science
    • Movie interstellar made first simulation of an accretion disk around black hole when academic groups did not have resources to do so


Conclusion:  Bring it back home

  • Lots of scientists grow up watching sci fi (use myself as example, scientist who went to MIT because his favorite sci fi character went there)
  • We spend our childhoods dreaming about AIs and nanobots and grow up to make those fantasies reality.
  • (or make “science fiction” science fact.)
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