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Writing the future: computers in science fiction

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2 Author(s)

Although we cannot be certain that science fiction directly influenced the course that computing technology has taken over the past 50 years (1950-2000), the genre has, at the very least, anticipated the technologies we are using and developing. Speculation about our future human relationship to computers, and to technology in general, has been the province of science fiction for at least a hundred years. But not all of that speculation has been as optimistic as those in the computing profession might assume. While cautionary tales in science fiction are plentiful and varied, the genre is also filled with more optimistic speculation about computer technology that will help save time, improve health, and generally benefit life as we know it. If we take a look at some of this speculation-both optimistic and pessimistic-as if it were prediction, it turns out that many science fiction authors have envisioned the future as accurately as historians have chronicled the past. Prediction is difficult, goes the joke, especially when it comes to the future. Yet science fiction authors have taken their self-imposed charters seriously; they've tested countless technologies in the virtual environments of their fiction

Published in:

Computer  (Volume:33 ,  Issue: 1 )