Does Sci-fi Predict the Future?
Silicon Valley entrepreneur, co-founder of Paypal, and Facebook sponsor Peter Thiel believes that the collapse of science fiction is the reason we are stuck making small-scale inventions with little impact on our lives today and in the future. "We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters," Thiel said. But do scientists really need sci- fi to inspire new products? Certainly there has been an abundance of imaginary gadgets becoming reality. Now, the BBC has highlighted some of the great sci-fi technologies that have become a reality
Jules Verne is credited with having directly inspired the invention of the submarine in his novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and the helicopter in Clipper of the Clouds.
Star trek's communicator influenced the creation of the first mobile phone in the seventies.
Taser is actually an acronym for "Thomas A Swift's electric rifle", a creation of fictional inventor Thomas Swift.
Some, however, believe we have plenty of ambition. Co founder of Singularity University, entrepreneur, and engineer Peter Diamandis cites Google X as a great example of truly innovative technology. Google X labs are responsible for Google glass, and developments on flying cars. They've started an X Prize Foundation, which organizes technology competitions.
A current XPrize challenge is to create Tricorder, the hand-held device from Star Trek that can diagnose illness. The prize is worth $10 million.
But sci-fi is not just a useful medium for new product ideas, but also for hypothetical testing of said ideas. "You can think of sci-fi as being about technology, but it's also about ethics," says investor John Taysom, "It lets you explore the good and bad sides of technology."
Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, it all comes down to imagination and engineering know-how to create more and more advanced products. And hopefully, the flying car will be out soon.