From debit cards to cell phones to submarines, many of the inventions imagined in science fiction have become part of our reality. In many cases, science fiction didn’t merely predict but also inspires real-life invention. In his 1888 novel Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy introduced the concept of universal credit: The citizens of his future utopia carried a card with them that allowed them to spend credit from a central bank, without a need for paper money. Today, almost everyone owns a credit card, and our society is gearing towards a cashless system. Perhaps science fiction is a precursor of what is to come or be developed in the real world. Similarly, another famous Star Trek gadget was the communicator, which looks similar to the cell-phones of today. Martin Cooper, who oversaw the invention of the first mobile phone in the 70s, directly credited Star Trek for inspiring his vision. Now, these mobile phones have become such an indispensable part of all our lives. Hence, I agree that science fiction is not purely for entertainment as they can be implemented in the development of science and technology and foster creativity and progress. Moreover, science fiction hints at the moral implications of man’s actions if we were to take science and technology further in our lives.
The creations of writers are used to give coming generations ideas on what developments can be made in science and technology, resulting in the progression of science fiction to reality. Literature can inspire minds to create the impossible, and this defines a future society which is boosted by science, with a more efficient and advanced life. Tools in electronic and digital technology make our lives easier, and we can get more tasks done in a much shorter amount of time, a far cry from the past. In 1973, Martin Cooper stated that his inspiration for creating the world’s first portable phone was indeed the ‘communicator device’ used in the Star Trek episodes in 1966. In the Star Trek series, on-ship communication is achieved via communicator panels on desks and walls, and sometimes through the use of videophones. While formed into a landing party, the crew carried hand-held communicators that flip open. They could communicate easily and wirelessly. This was prophesied to be true, and today many, if not all, of us depend on our cellphones and smartphones daily. Our phones can help us contact people easily, contain advanced typing functions, efficient communication, and prowl the internet for information. In fact, in modern society, a significant number of us rely on the phone, to the extent that we often have an urge to touch our phones. Not having their phones with us displaces people, and we will feel isolated and uncomfortable due to our fear of missing out on what our friends may be doing.
Furthermore, Science fiction fosters creativity and progress. It leaves much to the imagination, and these movies or stories leave a deep impression on us. Science fiction movies can pique our curiosity, and they often leave food for thought. They make us envious of the lives of the people enabled by technology. A few of these worlds could be imagined and have left people wondering if they were real. In Rossum’s Universal Robots’ written in 1920, the author, Karel Čapek, suggested the idea of robots. The play tells the story of an android factory, and follows these human-like robots who are happy, mindless workers. Although robots have been common in modern households, they have been deployed in factory industries for production of goods, or they might be sent to complete dangerous tasks such as handling materials at high temperatures. To go further back in time, the people of Atlantis were possessors of exceptional powers such as the ability to control the weather and modify volcanic eruptions. Fictitious and unreal, movies have been made after this place. They serve to inspire, where one we could try to harness the power of raw energy. Today, humans have developed hydroelectric power stations, wind turbines and geothermal stations in the volcanic regions. Our level of creativity has inspired people to have unorthodox thinking of improving, and we have become so bold as to tap volcanic , geothermal steam to engineer turbines and power generators. Hence, science fiction gives us the ideas that stem from them, so we can leverage on these ideas given by authors and producers to improve lives and make unimaginable advancements.
Nevertheless, many people still disdain the science fiction and fantasy genres for its seemingly unrealistic ideas. It cannot be denied that there is an anti-imagination element to this criticism of the genre. We could reach back to Plato’s dislike of poets for encouraging us to see things that aren’t real. Plato distrusted poetic imitation because it represented particulars, and not general statements of truth; because mimesis works differently for Aristotle, it can represent those general statements. Moreover, some people believe that Mankind is not advanced enough Today, we are not yet faced with humanoid robots that demand our affection or with parallel universes as developed as the Matrix. In the 20th century, we have been talking about flying cars and robots dominating our lives. Teachers have encouraged us to draw topics on such themes. Fast forward to the 21st century, how much of this has become real? Prototypes of flying cars are in existence but they have not been produced due to the lack of technology and engineering that deems it safe and worthy enough to consider this a plausible invention. Hence, the notion of science fiction being more than entertainment might have been just an overhype.
Last but not least, science fiction hints at the moral implications of man’s actions if we were to take Science and technology further in our lives. The “Blade Runner” story heavily revolves around the idea of synthetic humans, which require artificial intelligence (AI). Some people might be worried about the potential fallout of giving computers intelligence such as creating unfair social contracts which may be detrimental to society, which has had disastrous consequences in many science-fiction works. But the truth is AI has been invented. In fact, it has some very useful applications in reality. We see AI prevailing in our lives quite often, be it on calls with the bank where we talk to robots, or even in customer service in some places. In Minority Report, when John Anderton walks into The Gap, the store doesn’t just greet him while he’s trying to keep a low profile, it also eagerly remembers and recites his shopping history. Amazon was only eight years old when the film was released, just about to turn a profit for the first time, but Minority Report was already predicting the world of consumerism it, and similar services, would lead to: one where the promise of security and convenience trumps any right to privacy. Today, consumerism is so advanced that people fear their rights being infringed upon. Companies are mining data input by consumers and opening them to new risks of having privacy invaded. They study our purchasing habits and try to make use of them to create advertisements that we will read according to our interests. Everything we scroll, click or see is being monitored by these software or artificial intelligence which suggests that the line between the infringement of privacy and the benefits of studying consumerism trends is getting blurred. This is not without warning in science fiction stories, which warns us of our potential actions if we revel in the benefits that science and technology gives without regard that it has become so real that it is of threat.
To conclude, science fiction has been proven to aid in the invention of unique communication, which is fast and effective. It serves to excite us, make us creative and improve our lives but it certainly raises concerns about ethical problems such as personal data privacy. Whether we take it seriously, or how much we are ready technologically to create them, and the need to think about how much improvement it will bring to our lives. On this note, we have also been serious enough with the view on technology to consider the ill effects of it, such as the violation of our privacy. Eventually, Science fiction serves the purpose of entertainment by being introduced in movies and books, but it can also become reality.