Sci-fi Tech You Already Carry in Your Pocket
Scified2023-03-26 08:17:51
Written by Chris2,397 Reads0 Comments2023-03-26 08:17:51

Science fiction is about imagining the "what if", which is often an extension of the technology we have today. In this way, science fiction isn’t just about merging the possible with the impossible, much of the time it involves predictions of what could very well come next.

As much as we understand this concept, it’s something we often fail to relate to the tech of our real world. The technology of the real world has evolved so rapidly that we rarely step back and account for how far its come, and in doing so we take it for granted. From the right perspective, however, even the humble phone you carry in your pocket is a science fiction device that writers from history never considered a serious reality, at least not so soon.

A Perspective on Regular Use

While mobile phones were originally mainly for direct calls, today they're just as much about leveraging software to open a range of new opportunities more fascinating than we appreciate. For example, consider a common use like playing online casino games. This process begins with selecting the best casino sign up offers like deposit matches, free spins, and seasonal promotions. Casino users then make online payments and withdrawals, play games like slots and poker, and even stream live games directly onto their handheld systems. Instead of one use, a service like an online casino can accomplish dozens of different goals. To us, this seems simple enough, but how much complexity was accounted for in science fiction's predictions?

Turning Back the Clock

Casino titles are made of code, and a lot of this code is mathematics. The idea of running maths on portable systems has been around for a long time, but the complexity of modern systems blows early predictions out of the water. One of the first examples comes from Isaac Asimov’s 1951 Foundation novel, with the inclusion of a calculator pad. This hard plastic device was a dedicated system created to take written equations and supply results, a fantastically useful potential invention Asimov imagined for the future. Of course, the first real pocket calculator, the Busicom LE-120A "HANDY" would later accomplish this feat in 1971. Today, the mobiles we carry in our pockets are millions of times more powerful, and multifunctional, though the calculator pad can also be thought of as one of the early concepts for a tablet computer.

"Foundation" (CC BY 2.0) by snigl3t

More advanced multiuse software and communication systems like different casino games and video streaming communication appeared much later too. These technologies made appearances in Star Trek, although even the setting of the distant future failed to predict how far technology would come. The video calls featured in Star Trek were of low quality, whereas a modern live stream has tens of times the detail, hundreds of years before Star Trek TOS was set. Even the super-advanced tricorders don’t have the flexibility of a smartphone from years ago.

"NCC-1701-D in a starfield" (CC BY 2.0) by The Manic Macrographer

Old science fiction media is full of technology that captures and ignites the imagination, but we tend to confine our appreciation of it to within the medium. We might not be able to travel between the stars, but so many of the smaller pieces of tech in early sci-fi are so far outshined by what we have today that it's almost hilarious. Off-base early predictions aside, try putting yourself in the shoes of a time traveller from the 1950s and take another look at what your smartphone can do. From playing a couple of rounds of blackjack on the go to instantly running calculations that would take old supercomputers weeks to complete, the future is already here, even though we didn't see it coming.

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