When fiction came before fact
Sci-fi is fantastic, we all know that, but do you also know that it invented everything that makes life worthwhile?
That’s right. If it wasn’t for sci-fi writers and their vast imaginations there’d be no TV, no internet and no video games. Imagine that. Imagine living in a world in which humans can only communicate if they’re within a 30-metre radius of each other, or a world in which local co-op gaming is nothing more than one man kicking an inflated pig bladder to another. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Here’s our top 10 of things that sci-fi correctly predicted.
10. Neural interfaces
Neural interfaces have a long tradition in science-fiction, whether it’s to create fully hybrid cyborgs from bits of eviscerated humans, as in Robocop, Star Trek and Dr Who, or simple interfaces that ‘clip’ in to the central nervous system, as in The Matrix, the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, and every alien abduction story that’s ever been told.
While the full-on cyborgs of Robocop and Dr Who are some years off being a reality (as far as we know; who knows what could be lurking in a deep underground lab somewhere), neurons have been successfully grown on slabs of silicon, and the exceptionally brilliant and inspirational Kevin Warwick successfully implanted an array of 100 electrodes in to nerve fibres in one of his arms. This let him control an electric wheelchair and an artificial hand. Sadly, such things make us wish we weren’t poor and stupid so that we could do a masters or PhD in this fascinating field, but looking on the bright side, perhaps no one will be poor and stupid in the future because of Kevin Warwick and his pioneering work. Here’s hoping.
9. Motion control How cool would it be to grab and rearrange individual windows on your ultra-thin laptop screen like in that scene from Minority Report, or engage in virtual combat by rabbit-punching your way around your living room like some ASBO-wielding sufferer of St Vitus’ dance?
Not very, because the former involves real, mentally challenging work that we could do without and the latter is too much like proper physical exercise, but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft and Sony making it a reality.
The Xbox Kinect: it’s watching you
Thanks to Kinect and PlayStation Move, you can now suck all the fun out of games by controlling your character as if you were in the game yourself. Instead of simply pressing a button to kill imaginary foes, you can now simulate it by thrusting an imaginary sword into their virtual, vital organs.
The technology works fine, but developers are yet to create anything truly revolutionary with it. It looks to work best as an additional control interface, alongside the trusty joypad, rather than as a standalone device. Still, we expect deeper. more involving such experiences in future.
Whatever happens, sci-fi predicted it.