The Technology Of Science Fiction Is Here Now

Published 6 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:26 pm,

terminator service gang p2 The Technology Of Science Fiction Is Here Now

Terminator Salvation came to theaters on May 21st.  It sparked an idea in my head about technology in our society and if it’s really possible get to the point of what the Terminator franchise projects for our future.

When I presented the idea to a co-worker, he dissed it immediately. When a scientist or engineer starts to immediately diss the possibility of an idea, it’s a good clue that it might be a good idea for us to wrap our imaginations around. Hence, the birth of this article.

This was going to be a short piece… but unfortunately, like the technology in Terminator, the more I looked into the subject matter, the more the article grew on me. It got bigger than the original idea. It took me over and I found myself inexorably abducted into having to write it.

It became just a wee bit more than it’s original design.  Huh?  Where have we heard that before?

Technology In Science Fiction

When we watch our favorite Sci-Fi or fantasy movies, we love the idea of what could be compared to what is.  Despite the science community who nit-picks the details of science fiction in movies, we’re starting to see more and more real technology or science premises coming out of our beloved movies.  Odd isn’t it?

It’s not that odd.  Writers are sparked by imagination and are not limited by budgets, funding sources or the hassle of having to actually discover the math that underlies the technologies or premises they pitch.

a trip to the moon The Technology Of Science Fiction Is Here Now

Generally speaking, the first sci-fi film that predicted something “impossible” was from the French visionary Georges Melies and his milestone 1902 silent sci-fi film, A Trip To The Moon (Le Voyage dans la lune). The general consensus was that it was silly. Well, as we know, it wasn’t, but he was daring enough to envision it and create it.

A popular theme we continue to see is humanity fighting against the odds and fighting against out of control computer programs.  We love seeing our heroes prevailing over these obstacles to survive.  It also helps that we have super cool stars and awesome music and futuristic ideas that are easily digestible to help us devour the magic of these movies.

And yet science fiction or the imagination of science fiction writers and movie makers seem to pre-echo our real technological achievements or nightmares. But really, give me a break. Perfectly animated humanoid robots standing up against humanity?

Hardware And Software Conjoined To Make Trouble

exterminating a terminator p The Technology Of Science Fiction Is Here Now

There are two components to this nightmare: Machines and the software that operates them.  Software isn’t that hard to construct.  It’s a collection of logic that when run, appears autonomous. Or as I see it, can be instilled pre-learned behavior.

Walk. See Wall, turn. If wall on right, turn left. Else, turn right.

That’s a silly and rudimentary example of software code for a walking robot. I could spend hours writing out all the different options and opportunities just for walking. Or better yet, I could just create logic that would ask the robot to write its own software. It isn’t hard. It’s just a bookkeeping nightmare to create and sort out conflicting code.

In Fritz Lang’s 1930’s science fiction film Metropolis we see one of the earliest imaginations of robots.  We’ve seen the autonomous and independent Robby the Robot in one of my all time faves, Forbidden Planet.  There was the incredible tale of robot self awareness and growth in I, Robot.  On May 21st we saw the ultimate nightmare in Terminator Salvation, where they take 1983′s War Games just a step further with Skynet making it’s tools – machines in the form of different types of robots to kick our own butts.

But really, it’s pretty fantastic.  Right?

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  1. Pretty cool article. I am surprised that the company was allowed to call themselves Cyberdyne and WB didn’t sue. Hmmm….

    I am not much into robotics, but I firmly believe that the realm of science fiction does indeed spark the creative minds of people to develop the things in the fictional universe. Was Jules Verne pyschic or a visionary? Look how much of the Trek universe is now deemed plausible or even real now. I think if we can imagine it, then maybe someday it will be reality.

  2. My favorite piece of predicted technology that has taken over everyones’ lives already (or so it seems) is the cell phone. Hexagonal cells which make cellular communication possible has been around since the 1940s, but it took a guy who worked for Motorola (Dr. Martin Cooper) to be inspired by as Star Trek episode in the 1970s to invent the actual device.

  3. It would soo awesome if that actually happened.

  4. Yea Andy S., I was pretty tripped up about the Cyberdyne name, trying to confirm it was a real company or not. The news articles led me down the path of belief.

    LeeAnna: I’ve always had an affinity for the flip phones… the root of which would be my fan driven need to associate with the STAR TREK mythos?

    Who knows.

  5. I’m still waiting for my flying car, dangnabbit…. :D

  6. @LeeAnna

    Did you know that the inventor of the cellphone thought the market for it would eventually be no larger than maybe 100,000 people? He figured only high level businessmen that traveled a lot would find a use for it.

    Go figure. :)


    • … and now teenagers can’t keep their thumbs off it. Heh.

      Another fact that I find interesting about the cell phone was that and American invented the cell phone, but Japan was the country with the first cell network. Theirs went on in 1979, where as the us didn’t have theirs up till 1983. (My years might be wrong, but they are at least close.)

  7. After reading Bruce’s article I suddenly feel very intellectually inferior. I’m gonna’ go try that damn Rubik’s cube again…

  8. Very inspiring article Bruce,,,
    Everythings getting slowly taken over by robots. Look at the high end cars they pratically drive them selves already. Robot eye’s even flush the toilet for us… :-O
    We’re already living under the protection of a military super computer. I’ve forgotten the name but its a quantum computer and its basically Skynet.
    Let’s just hope its not working on the solution to time travel. ;-)

    Ross the Rubik’s cube is solved by using patterns. The robot has obviously been programmed with them. (Btw it doesn’t matter how you alter the squares on the cube as patterns will solve it no matter what) ;-)

  9. One of the best films about robots in the future (IMO) is “Artificial Intelligence.”

    I loved how that film ended,,,

  10. Yeah that’s the one GK333,,,
    Great film !!!

    The first half of the film is tough to get through but the second half is very well done. The ending resolution was amazing. A lot of people didn’t understand it.

    Let me know what you think after you watch it?? :-)

    One of the last films to show a future with the Twin Towers still in it.

  11. Cool, GK333. It was really a great film and if I recall it was my favorite film of 2001.

    The first hour is good its just very emotional. Haley Joel Osment was incredible as “David”. Also note the amazing work of the late great Stan Winston… Man its amazing,,,
    Bring some kleenex for the end,,,

  12. William Shatner inspired all of this. We all owe our tech to Shanter.

    Shatner!!! We salute you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Really an excellent post. That was terrific. :-D

  14. Thanks KEL, et al.

  15. That’s not true, 790!! He also gave us the first primetime show to feature Heather Locklear in a bikini!! :D

  16. @GK333, I don’t think I would like to live on as a machine,,,


  17. Dec 15th, 2012 – The US government buys a completely new software program from CyberDyne Systems that uses neural interlinks making it a thinking program

    Dec 20th, 2012 – The US government has completed full intergration of the thinking program into all military computers


    Thanks, Bruce, for destroying us all! Well, maybe not you but you did say you were a programmer. Wait a minute, I’m a Database Administrator and was an applications programmer…. DRAT! :-)

    Great article, Bruce. Loved every word.

  18. LOL – Thanks John.

  19. @ 790

    That’s a little odd considering your gravitar.. :)

  20. I thought you would say the GK333,, :-)
    If anyones ever seen the totally awesome tv show LEXX, they would totally get the reason why I chose that online name.

    “790″ was a know it all, smart ass robot head. I come off that way sometimes. ^
    Vic rolling his eyes,,, ;-)

  21. @790
    SOMETIMES???!!! 8) :-D

  22. Loved the article.

    Most of the people I associate with do not take the time to consider the what if aspects of the movies they go to see. I will definietly be sending them the link to this article.

    Job well done.