50 years ago, technology like digital stereos, portable cameras and the internet was a thing of fantasy, present only in sci-fi and the imaginations of the most pioneering scientists. Today we have handheld devices that consolidate them into one. Plusnet looks at how technology has changed our lives… The parallel between science fiction and science is an interesting one. The genre has historically been an outlet through which we can explore entirely different realities, alternative systems of governance and ethics, and let our minds wander with technologies that would almost seemingly be impossible in real life. Some of the predictions made by the genre, such as supercomputers like HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey and the telecommunications device E.T. built to “phone home”. Used under a Fair Use license, linked to source. In 1964, Gene Rodenberry first pitched the Star Trek franchise – one that is still with us today and marks an important part of our cultural milieu. Parallels between some technologies showcased at the World’s Fair in New York in the same year (incidentally where Bell Systems first showcased the computer modem), and those featuring in sci-fi cannot be ignored. While some of them have been consigned to sci-fi imaginings (we still don’t have jetpacks, hovercars or cities on the moon!), scientific endeavour and increasingly sophisticated communication capabilities through the internet has allowed others to make the jump from fantasy to reality. Certainly when thinking about Star Trek: iPads resemble datapads, and mobile phones are basically the same as communicators (right?!). The internet has played a significant role in the development of these technologies. Computing has changed over decades, and mobile technology has benefited as a result from its growth almost to the point where the two are synonymous with each other. The immediacy of information at our hands online has led to people searching for quicker and convenient ways of increasing our knowledge or doing things. All images used under a Fair Use license, and linked to source Do you ever step back and appreciate the technology we have access to today? Having access to digital copies of humanity’s literary and creative output via the internet feels to us like the most natural thing in the world, previous generations had no idea that the technology would exist and become so prevalent. It makes you wonder what technologies will make the leap from sci-fi to real life in the coming years and what role the internet will play in shaping the future of generations to come. The internet also provides people with an opportunity to shout more about their ideas, generate a buzz and turn it into the next million or billion pound idea. So not only is sci-fi an avenue for us to explore alternative realities and ponder technologies currently beyond our capabilities, it’s also a vehicle for people to come together and celebrate our collective inner-geek. Long may it continue, we say! Which sci-fi technologies would you most like to see become a reality? How do you believe internet has helped shape fiction into reality?