How Science Fiction changed the world and what it means for the future
Science fiction books are famously for the nerd class of human society. At least, it was before television and films as well constantly developing video game technology made it mainstream. Many people are embracing the futuristic genre of space exploration and alien life forms and far out science, especially with the Mars rover, Elon Musk, and fantastic scientific breakthroughs in the news. Coupled with the discovery of new planets, this form of speculative fiction has been gaining ground, inspiring people (specifically young people) to take up and support the sciences.
It is a common misconception that for science to thrive, people involved must focus on the sciences and the technical aspects only. This mentality has driven governments to defund the arts and encourage young people to enter the spheres of engineering, IT, physics, and mathematics. This is a mistake since one of the most important traits to have when trying to push science further is innovation and imagination. This is where science fiction comes in very handy.
Innovation and imagination are the traits that push the envelope further, traits that lead the human race into the future. Without Star Trek, we would have never thought of creating touchscreen tablets, mp3, propulsion engines, Google glass . . . there are so many technological advancements today that would have not been possible if science fiction did not exist. Because of its speculative nature, the writer of science fiction could envision a future where man has evolved far beyond the limitations of our present time and transcend the boundaries to push the human race to go where no man has boldly gone before.
A good example of a really great writers of science fiction, writers who explored the impact of science on society, and whose books are now well known because of their influence on modern technology are Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert A Heinlein.
Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey with Stanley Kubrick and has inspired scientists to send remotely manned ships to seek the edge of our galaxy. As one of the best works in science fiction, both book and film, it caused a lot of confusion when it was released but is now prescient (clearly created by those who though ahead of their time), as it was made before actual astronauts landed on the moon.
Isaac Asimov was an actual scientist—a biochemist—who came up with the three (actually four including the zeroth law) laws of robotics for his Robot series. He also wrote the Foundation series as a continuation, creating a future world where humans colonized other habitable planets and robots existed. Today, these three laws are the basis for robot ethics, something necessary for artificial intelligence technology as a safeguard and guide for programming.
Robert A. Heinlein wrote Stranger in a Strange Land as well as Starship Troopers, whose characters became the archetype for space marines and mecha or mobile robots. Contrary to Asimov and Clarke’s hard science, he initiated social science fiction that touched on politics, individuality, and choice in a future world.
Without these writers, the inventions that make our world today would not have been possible. How incredible is the significance of science fiction indeed.