ITMO: From Sci-Fi to Real-Life: Five Predictions on the Future of Technologies

When such words as smartphones, 3D printing, and quantum computing were yet alien concepts and humans could only dream of stepping on the Moon and exploring the other worlds with the blessing of science, virtuosos of words found a way to glimpse into the future. From translation robots and high-tech gadgetry to space flights and artificial food – here’s a list of five books that foresaw the future even better than The Simpsons.

Having lived in the era of steamships and telegraphs, Jules Verne, regarded as the father of science fiction, managed to make an astonishing number of predictions that came true. His prophetic book, From Earth to the Moon, a blend of broad satire and wild imagination, accurately describes the first Moon landing over a century before the actual mission. With eerie, almost unbelievable accuracy, Verne predicted almost everything to the smallest detail: the name of the cannon (Columbiad or Columbia), the crew size (3), the launch site (Florida, the US), and even the dimensions of the ship, precise calculations, and the feeling of weightlessness in space. Although the idea of ships shooting out a gun might not be that accurate, the rest will leave you speechless.

Whether using the power of time travel or not, H.G. Wells, a sci-fi pioneer and prolific writer, used laser technologies in his work even before their invention in 1960 (and Star Wars became mainstream). In his novel, The War of the Worlds, Martians – described as octopus-like creatures – are armed with heat-rays, a super-power weapon capable of obliterating living objects with a silent flash of light. Sounds rather familiar, right? Although he wasn’t quite precise with his description of building an actual laser, his vision is close to both the device and other directed-energy technologies.

Written in 1920-1921, this dystopian novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin, a Soviet novelist, was first published in Russia in 1954, yet first saw the light of the day as an English translation in 1924. Set far in the future, the story takes us to the world of absolute straight lines, people devoid of passion and creativity, Big Brother – and artificial food. In the 20th century! The petroleum-based food found on the pages of Zamyatin’s We is surprisingly similar to the idea of artificial food. However, cultured meat would’ve sounded alien to the public till 2013, when Mark Post, a professor at Maastricht University, created the first lab-grown burger.

As if using a crystal gazer to peer into the future, Ray Bradbury managed to predict, among other things, a fistful of technologies that we use today. For instance, the characters of Fahrenheit 451 can’t imagine their life (spoiler: just as we don’t) without the so-called “seashells” or “thimble radios” that they used to “hum the hour away”. Though personal stereos didn’t exist before 1975, Bradbury described the gadgets that bear a striking resemblance to today’s wireless earbuds and headsets. So, when popping in your earpods for some noise, think of the fact that it was a thing in Bradbury’s dystopian world back in 1953.

Being a tech enthusiast, Douglas Adams put a lot of effort, detail, and passion into his bestselling The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This book is a gold mine of advanced technologies and futuristics concepts, one of them being an analog of modern online language translators. What is described as a small and yellowish fish in the book is actually a predecessor to Google Translate. But, thankfully, in our reality, you don’t need to put a Babel fish in your ear to get a fast translation but simply use your phone or computer instead.

It almost begs the question: so what are you reading now that will inspire you to revolutionize the tech of tomorrow? For some ideas, check out a , as well as our series on getting to know Russian (especially Soviet Sci-Fi and ).

Comments are closed.