Necessity has been called as the mother of invention but imagination is what creates the idea for that invention. Impossibility finds a way to seep into our dreams but it’s their depictions that brings them into existence.
Fiction has been one of the key mediums for people to connect with versions of themselves, who they inspire to be. It deals with imagination which is the first component of any technological invention, advancement or venture. Science fiction is a genre of fiction that deals with imagining technology that does not exist presently. The ideas behind a lot of modern technology has been inspired from the field. Here’s a short list of tech inspired from science fiction:
- Payment Cards: Before moving pictures depicted fictions scientific technology, written word was the way that jogged the most powerful graphic chip on the planet – the human brain. Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward 2000-1887 published in 1888 was the first novel that introduced the concept of “universal cards”. These cards were used by the author’s citizen of utopia to purchase goods and services anywhere in the world. Credit cards have been around since the 50s but the idea dates back half a century.
2. Video Chatting :
Inventors struggled for nearly two centuries to invent the technology that enabled humans to communicate with each other without being in the range of sound emitted by human mouth i.e. the telephone. While people were getting used to idea of talking to one another on the phone, someone thought of seeing the person at the other while doing that. That man was Hugo Gernsback. It was his novel, Ralph 124C+1 published as a twelve-part series in Modern Electrics that had a device called “telephot” that led people to see each other while talking across large distances.
3. Antidepressants and Genetic Engineering :
Gadgets and gizmos aren’t the only areas where science has benefitted from fiction. Medicine has been influenced as well. In 1931, Aldous Huxley gave the concept of antidepressants in form “mood altering” medicine that was given to the citizens of 2540 London to keep them mentally balanced. Apart from this, the novel details a society where humans are engineered as per their role in the society. Sounds a lot like tinkering with the genome to modify and produce desired living things, doesn’t it?
4. 3D Printing:
The earliest reference that I came across about 3D printing was from Eric Frank Russell’s novelette, the Hobbyist. Published in 1947, he describes machines which are manufacturing different things, both living and non-living. We haven’t come across the former, but the latter is something that we have all witnessed, either in person or in countless videos on YouTube. Who’s to say how far we are from creating something or someone using a combination of Russell’s fabrication device and Huxley’s notion of genetic engineering?
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons