TAE holds that many of science's greatest ideas stem from earlier prophetic work in fiction. For example the DARPA challenge to build a powered exoskeleton actually contained a reference to Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" novel in the Funding Announcement. Or consider how many future-tech ideas Star Trek spawned...
And so I have to wonder: could the perceived lack of major innovation that has blanketed the globe over the last twenty years be caused by the inability of science fiction authors to dream up new dreams for actual scientists to invent?
Here we stand, watching terrorists hack into the video feeds of our unmanned aerial vehicles (which conjures up a James Cameron movie), and I realize that the highest tech we have right now is from mid-80's science fiction. Which makes me wonder what next?
As far as 90's science fiction goes, talk about a dry spell. While ST:TNG certainly was praiseworthy as a show, individual ideas in tech weren't all that populous. A few do come to mind, however. In one episode, Dr. Polaski puts a patient into suspended animation and encases them in "styrolite", in order to examine the subject without contaminating the crew.
Modern scientists are working on methods to "freeze" soldiers with sulfates to put them into suspended animation long enough to get them to a good surgical unit.
Really, the single largest tech theme of the TNG era was (IMHO) the Borg. The cybernetic supercolony. The Borg collective used advanced, unknown methods to join machine to man. Is this what the future holds for us, as outlined by our science prophets?
My guess would be yes. Portable electronics continue to gain ability, as well as catch up with their desktop cousins. How long before your "smartphone" becomes your computer? To do so, it'll need a much bigger interface. Like a heads up display, or instant projection. Which would necessitate body mounting.
And honestly, only a well-written translation code prevents us from talking directly with computers via electrical impulses. Really, the only reason you can't have a USB port implanted in your arm is because they haven't written the drivers for that yet.
And so there I think is where the next leap from "sci-fi" to "sci" is going: the integration of human with machine. And I'm not the first person to think this. Far from it. When I get my USB arm implant, I'll immediately begin downloading the whole of wikipedia! Except any articles about Joe Lieberman, those are banned from my mind forever.
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