Science fiction predictions that have come true
It can be overwhelming to think about it, but we are living in the future about which so many science fiction books and movies have talked over the years.
On many occasions, authors and filmmakers did a decent job predicting what the future would hold, at least when speaking about technology.
Could we consider the magic mirror of ‘Beauty and the beast’ as a predecessor of FaceTime and Skype of the eighteenth century?
However, as science fiction became a genre and authors developed serious scientific knowledge and a great interest in technology, the fictional versions of the future began to be more precise.
Various authors and filmmakers collaborated or tested their theories with scientists, making their work more accurate and sometimes prophetic.
Total body scanners that are now common at the US airports have been mentioned in the 1990 movie ‘Total Recall’.
In the book ‘Gulliver's Travels’, published in 1735, Jonathan Swift predicted that Mars has two moons based on the astronomer Johannes Kepler’s hypothesis which was raised in the early seventeenth century.
One hundred and fifty years later, Phobos and Deimos satellites were discovered, since the optics available back then didn’t allow to see celestial bodies so small and so close to the planets.
In his ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ book, published in 1879, Julio Verne devised a huge electric submarine called Nautilus.
It was a type of marine transport that wasn’t invented until 1960, although it is true that in 1800 there were already prototypes that could have inspired the French writer, who was interested in both science and reading.
In Edward Bellamy’s novel ‘Looking Backward’, citizens from the future carry a card that allows them to consume without using printed money.
The credit card was invented in the year 1950, and is already being replaced by payment through mobile devices.
H.G. Wells predicted the creation of war tanks in his short story "The Land Ironclads" which appeared in 1903.
He also coined for the first time in history the expression ‘atomic bomb’ in his novel ‘The World Set Free’, in which he warned of the devastation that this massive destruction weapon would cause 30 years before it was used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In his book ‘Ralph 124C 41+’, Hugo Gernsback mentioned a device called “telephot”, which allowed people to see each other while talking from long distances; a precursor to the current Skype.
Written in 1914, the novel also introduces the concept of radar, literally described as "a wave of pulsating polarised ether that is reflected in metallic objects and returns to the emitter, thus allowing to calculate the position and distance."
In his book ‘1984’, George Orwell establishes a multitude of parallels between a fictional totalitarian and repressive society and that of today.
The novel, published in the mid-twentieth century, recreates a world in which communication is limited in order to prevent conspiracies against the government.
JG Ballard wrote an essay, in 1977, that turned out to be surprisingly prophetic, especially with regard to social networks, as this fragment shows:
"Each of our actions during the day, throughout the entire spectrum of everyday life, will be instantly recorded on video. At night we will sit down to see the images, selected by a trained computer to choose just our best profiles, our most intelligent dialogues, our most affectionate expressions, captured through the friendliest filters, and then we will gather all this to have an improved reconstruction of our day.”
In the novel ‘2001: An Odyssey in Space’, Arthur C. Clarke discussed about a network of geo-synchronised satellites, which move around the Earth at the same speed, remaining in the same position and thus allowing global communication.
In 1920, Hermann Oberth wrote about a similar idea, but Clarke's exact description is closer to the technology of communications satellites, which were put into orbit for the first time 15 years after the publication of his book.
Aldous Huxley foreshadowed the antidepressants in his novel ‘A happy world’, published in 1932.
In modern medicine, antidepressants were not considered or studied until 1950.
The characters in the book have a drug called Soma, which "raises an impenetrable wall between the real world and the mind of its users.”
The prolific writer also predicted the development of genetic engineering.
In ‘Farenheit 451’, Ray Bradbury describes a particular microphone headset that allows individuals to talk to each other.
Neither current telephone handsets nor Bluetooth communication was marketed until 2001.
In his first work, ‘Neuromancer, released in 1984, William Gibson mentioned the term ‘cyberspace’ and predicted the Internet phenomenon and virtual reality.
In the ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ movie, there is a scene in which astronauts watch/read from a pair of flat-screen tablets.
Not only is the tablet concept perfect, but the design is exactly the same as the ones we already use every day. Don’t these devices look like iPads?
The strange food bars that the poorest occupants of the train are forced to eat in the movie ‘Snowpiercer’ (2013), are precisely protein bars made with crushed insects, specifically cockroaches.
There are currently some protein bars derived from insects, such as Exo Bars, made from cricket flour.
This trend is likely to go further, since insects are a great source of protein with a relatively small impact on the environment, while Chirps, which are nachos made with crickets, are also becoming very popular.
Snowpiercer is a science fiction film is based on the 1982 novel Le Transperceneige.
Although the movie ‘Total Recall’ portrays a rather exaggerated view of the future, one of the technologies presented was very accurate.
The characters in the movie often use Johnny Cabs, which taxis are driven by automated drivers who control the vehicle. Although self-driving cars are not yet on the roads, they will be soon.
Movie ‘Short Circuit’, released in 1986 film predicts the development of autonomous military robots called SAINT (Strategic Artificially Intelligent Nuclear Transport).
Although we may be still far from having a Johnny No. 5 in our ranks, we do have unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) which operates while in contact with the ground.
The second movie of the ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy predicts the future use of virtual reality devices such as Oculus Rift.
Another of the technologies that are common nowadays are the hoverboards that fictional character Marty McFly uses when travelling to the future.