Sci-fi Predicting the Future

Posted by David Winnick

Science fiction is one of the greatest predictors of the future. Since it’s speculative fiction, it’s bound to get ideas right every now and then. For example, if it weren’t for Star Trek, we might not have the automatic sliding door or Bluetooth headsets! Author Jules Verne was another one of the greats at thinking up what the not-too-distant future might bring. After all, he foresaw the invention of both space shuttles and submarines. We at Quirk thought it would be fun to take a look at some other sci-fi tech feats that haven’t happened yet…but could!


[Movie still from Back to the Future, Universal Pictures]

Mister Fusion – Back to the Future

For years, people have been clamoring for the invention of the self-lacing shoe and the hover board. While both of those inventions are fun, and we finally have hover boards, the movie’s greatest idea is the Mister Fusion power source. Imagine a world where all of the trash we create becomes clean fuel for every car on the road. Empty landfills! No more skyrocketing gas prices! That is living the dream.


OASIS – Ready Player One

Video games are becoming more and more realistic by the day, but in Ernest Cline’s sci-fi novel, Ready Player One, this idea is taken to extreme levels. OASIS is a completely immersive experience – a world unto itself where anything is possible. This is especially true for anyone who can afford the most high-tech immersion rig to make the computerized world even more intense.

We don’t have anything like this yet, but VR technology is opening up all kinds of immersive experiences. It’s not far-fetched to envision an actual OASIS, with all its pleasures…and its pitfalls.


Penfield Wave Transmitter – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Depression and loneliness can be tough sometimes, even for Rick and Iran Deckard. While most people know Rick from Blade Runner, the famous Ridley Scott film adaption of the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the original Rick Deckard is quite different. Deckard wakes up in the morning and dials in the emotion he wants for the day on his Penfield Wave Transmitter, a device which controls feelings. Unfortunately for Deckard, he and his wife, Iran, have different ideas about how he should be feeling.

As countless speculative fiction works have shown us, controlling emotions almost always gets people into sticky territory (we’re thinking of The Stepford Wives and shuddering). As useful as the Penfield Wave Transmitter could be, maybe it’s best to leave that tech idea on the shelf.


Live Shades – Transmetropolitan

Every journalist on the beat should have a pair of live shades: sunglasses with photo-capturing technology seamlessly built in. How else would they be absolutely sure to catch everything they could possibly need for photos and video? Transmetropolitan’s Spider Jerusalem is far and away the greatest gonzo journalist of the future, and his glasses are a big part of his success.

But we already have this! you may say, and you’d be right…sort of. A very similar product was briefly on the market when the Google Glass arrived, but the public didn’t react well to them. The reason? Google Glass is pretty invasive. However, Spider’s glasses are much more low key.


Exoskeleton – All You Need is Kill

In the war against the alien mimics depicted in Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s 2004 visual novel, the people of the world are on the losing side. The only thing that’s coming even close to helping humanity survive is a complex exoskeleton worn by human soldiers.

Military and space exploration groups all over the world have been working on exoskeleton technology for years, so the kind featured in All You Need is Kill are becoming closer and closer to a reality. In fact, some exoskeletons are already on the market, although they’re heavy, experimental, and (as you might have guessed) crazy expensive. But we suspect that it’ll only be a matter of time before technology makes these suits a more common reality.