We’re still waiting for our personal jet packs, and as far as we know, there aren’t any condos for sale on the moon. Surprisingly, though, the world of science-fiction has done a solid job of predicting the gadgets of the future.
Here’s a quick look at the tech we use today that was first dreamed up in science-fiction novels and movies.
1. Smart robots: Sure, we have plenty of robots. They help us build our cars and vacuum our rugs, but what about smart robots — metal beings that actually learn and show signs of a personality? So far, those are only present in science fiction, but according to a report by the Daily Mail, computer scientist and medical doctor Henry Markram is busy leading the efforts to create a robot that actually learns. The doctor’s prediction? His robot will be complete in 2018.
2. Automatic doors: Today, we take automatic doors for granted. It’s awfully nice to walk out the grocery store and have those glass doors swing open at our approach. However, as the editors at Business Insider point out, author H.G. Wells predicted this technology in his novel When the Sleeper Wakes. Turns out, Wells was prescient when it came to this bit of technology. (Digging to the center of the earth? Well, that one hasn’t come true just yet.)
3. Leaving our atmosphere: It’s difficult to imagine a more amazing achievement than blasting into space. Yet, we’ve become bored with NASA and its exploits. Back in 1961, though, when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space, it was a pretty big deal. Author Jules Vern surely would have appreciated it. He fantasized about outer space travel way back in his novel From the Earth to the Moon, which was published in 1865.
4. Body scanners: Paste Magazine reminds us of that scene in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall in which our hero must undergo a full body scan when going through a security checkpoint. These body scans became commonplace at airports across the country starting in 2010.
5. iPads: As Britain’s The Guardian newspaper points out, the seminal science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey, correctly predicted much of today’s technology. This includes the film’s astronauts staring into flat video devices, even while eating. Sounds a lot like the iPad.
Of course, science-fiction is far from perfect in its crystal ball capabilities. Here are two notable misses from the world of science-fiction:
1. Individual jet packs: This is probably the biggest disappointment. People still aren’t flying around with the help of their own personal jetpacks. We’re still stuck walking. Boo.
2. Meals in pill form: Anyone who’s running late for a big meeting can appreciate the meal in a pill. Just pop the pill and you’re full. No mess and no cooking. This, alas, has not yet come to pass. It’s fast-food chains for us when we need a quick bite.
March in sci-fi history:
March 22, 1931—Born: William Shatner, aka Captain Kirk
March 26, 1931—Born: Leonard Nimoy, aka Spock
March 22, 1995—Premiered: sci-fi TV series “Sliders,” on Fox