5 books that predicted 21st century technologies that we use today

February 1, 2020

When the smartphone still did not exist, the human being didn’t even dream of stepping on the Moon and the Internet was something of a distant future, visionary artists, geniuses and writers created books that predicted technologies that we use today.

From spectacular outer space discoveries to the use of Artificial Intelligence that intelligent chatbots or virtual reality video games use today, and even dangerous inventions such as the atomic bomb. These books foresaw the future, thanks to the clairvoyance and imagination of their authors.

Today we will reveal five writings which include, centuries or decades ago, technologies and innovations that are now part of our life in the 21st century.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953): Not only considered one of the masterpieces of science fiction literature, this novel contains amazing predictions about the technological age. In the futuristic society described in the book, direct prototypes of Bluetooth headsets appear -like tiny shells- or flat-screen TVs to communicate over long distances -as nowadays social network interfaces do-.

Looking backward by Edward Bellamy (1888): It seems incredible that this book was written more than a century ago. The main character of the novel is a traveler from the late 19th century who wakes up in a utopian society in the 21st century, where people use pocket cards issued by banks that charge money from their accounts. Bellamy predicted credit cards! In this science fiction writing he also mentions television, represented in a visionary way as a device to see and listen to concerts.

Ralph 124C 41+ by Hugo Gernsback (1911): A century ago this author predicted technologies that we use daily, such as Skype, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. More accurately, something named “telephot” that allowed human beings to see and hear from distant points. In this way, Gernsback predicted the future development of video calls. As a curious note, this author was also inventor of gadgets such as flying machines, instruments to capture radio sound and even a hair removal device.

The age of intelligent machines by Ray Kurzweil (1999): This writing contains valuable predictions -some of which can still be fulfilled, since of them apply for hundreds or thousands of years into the future-. For example, predicted that a computer would defeat the best chess player in the world, as IBM’s Deep Blue managed. The disappearance of cables, the emergence of virtual glasses, the nanoengineering of autonomous machines, digital distance learning, AI-controlled prostheses, automatic translation, encryption of communication, the emergence of touch technology or virtual sex. You can check his predictions here.

1984 by George Orwell (1949): One of the most famous dystopian novel. Its foresight varies from geopolitical predictions to society prediction of a digitalized era where freedom and free thinking do not exist -a picture of the current technological dependence-. The cyber-vigilance embodied in Reality TV shows such as  Big Brother, something that today translates into the proliferation of cameras, the collection of information via internet cookies, the long fingerprint of each user or the use that companies make of our personal data. There is also a missile detection system or automatic speech transcription by a microphone -a forerunner of virtual assistants such as Cortana or Siri-.

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