8 Great Sci-Fi Authors Who Attempted to Predict The Future
Is it possible to predict the future? Many believe it's not, but these eight famous sci-fi authors might convince you otherwise.
From Jules Verne apparently predicting the internet to Arthur C. Clarke predicting 3D printing, you may begin to question the possibility.
Or not, we'll let you decide.
What is it called when you can see into the future?
There are various terms that can be used for an apparent ability to see the future. These include, but are not limited to:
- Foresight, or future sight; and,
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Most, if not all of these, are used to infer some kind of psychic or paranormal ability to see future events. As you might expect, there is currently no credible scientific evidence for such abilities.
Amongst other things, such an ability would likely violate the principle of causality (an effect cannot exist before its cause).
Is Deja Vu predicting the future?
Deja vu is the feeling that you have lived through a present situation before. In fact, the term literally translated means "already seen".
Some would have you believe that this phenomenon is a form of precognition or prophecy of your current situation from some time in the past. Needless to say, this is not widely accepted by science, which tends to view it as a form of a physical or mental anomaly.
Explanations range from split perception (receiving the same sensory information twice, in quick succession) or a momentary memory-based error.
Can you predict the future?
No, not really. You can make educated guesses based on trends and data, but any correct propositions are simply likely scenarios based on evidence and causation.
For example, meteorologists or financial analysts, attempt to predict future events based on known variables and past causes and effects. But this is not an exact science and their predictions are never 100% correct; but, in fact, far from it.
1. Jules Verne predicted a lot of the 20th Century
In his first novel, Paris in the Twentieth Century, Jules Verne accurately predicted much of the last century. Within this 1863 unpublished book, Jules appears to have been well ahead of his time.
In the book, he accurately predicted things like large-scale suburban living, career women, synthesizer-driven electronic music and recording industry to sell it, cities of elevator-equipped, electrical artificial lighting throughout the night, gas-powered cars, and much more.
2. Mark Twain predicted the Internet and social media
In an 1898 story, Mark Twain appears to have accurately predicted the Internet. The story called From The 'London Times' in 1904, is thoroughly set five years in the future (at the time).
It centers around a young inventor who develops a device called the telelectroscope. The device, as it turns out, sounds very familiar to us today indeed:
"As soon as the Paris contract released the telelectroscope, it was delivered to public use and was soon connected with the telephonic systems of the whole world. The improved 'limitless-distance' telephone was presently introduced and the daily doings of the globe made visible to everybody, and audibly discussable too, by witnesses separated by any number of leagues."
3. Aldous Huxley made some spooky predictions about the future
Apart from his visions of the future in his great dystopian works like A Brave New World, he also made some interesting observations of the next 50 years back in the 1950s.
At this time, he made the following prediction of the world which might look like the year 2000:
"During the next fifty years mankind will face three great problems: the problem of avoiding war; the problem of feeding and clothing a population of two and a quarter billions which, by 2000 A.D., will have grown to upward of three billions, and the problem of supplying these billions without ruining the planet’s irreplaceable resources."
Whilst his predictions are on the right path, his estimation of the human population was off by about 50%. Not bad, Huxley.
4. Arthur C. Clarke predicted 3D printing
Back in the 1960s, the late great Arthur C. Clarke made some interesting predictions about the future. These included the Internet, 3D printing, and, strangely, trained monkey servants.
Within a 1964 BBC documentary, Arthur lays out his vision for the future. He details how he believes in the future people will be able to contact people without knowing their location, and conduct business easily anywhere in the world.
Does that sound like the Internet to you? He also predicts the invention of what he calls a "replication device".
Such tech could be used to create an exact copy of anything. Whilst many will instantly think of the replicator from Star Trek, it could be argued that 3D printers fit the bill too.
He also made some other predictions about medical advancements and much more.
5. Robert Heinlein also made predictions about the future
Robert Heinlein, one of the great sci-fi writers of all time, is famed for his great works Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers, and Time Enough for Love. He, like other authors on our list, made some predictions about the future of his own back int he 1940s.
You can find a summary of them here, and it appears he got most of the wrong. At least for now.
6. J.G. Ballard predicted social media
J. G. Ballard, the author of great works like Crash, Empire of the Sun, High-Rise, and The Atrocity Exhibition, may well have predicted the rise of social media. In one interview to I-D magazine back in 1987, he said: -
"Every home will be transformed into its own TV studio. We'll all be simultaneously actor, director, and screenwriter in our own soap opera. People will start screening themselves. They will become their own TV programs."
Pretty spot on we would say.
7. Philip K. Dick predicted quite a few things
Philip K. Dick is another of the greatest sci-fi writers of all time. His many works have been an inspiration for authors and fans alike until his death in the early 1980s.
But just before his death, in 1980, he and several other authors made some predictions about the near future in The Book of Predictions. Dick's contributions were pretty spooky indeed.
For example, he foresaw a time when DNA could be artificially modified and there would be a nuclear accident in the U.S.S.R. in 1985 (Chernobyl occurred in 1986).
8. Isaac Asimov made predictions about the modern world too
Isaac Asimov made some interesting predictions of the future back in 1983. These included things like mass computerization, global co-operation, more leisure time and moon mining.
He made these predictions at the 1964 New York World's Affair in which he laid out his vision of the next 50 years.