A History of Books that Forecast the Future
As interesting as this is, it’s also an example of selection bias. Also: 2013 is the year for government spying on individuals, like this wasn’t happening earlier? really? But I digress…
Lots of stories appear to make predictions of the future, but are they really predictions or just fanciful things thought up by the author? What sci-fi devices haven’t come to pass? (How many have flying cars or superluminal travel of some sort, etc.?) That’s context that’s missing, because looking only at successful predictions (more on that in a moment) is the wrong way to look at it. If the author is truly a visionary maker of predictions, s/he has to be right more often than chance. It’s tough to measure that in an open-ended medium like storytelling, but one could at least do a systematic measure of it. Regardless, with myriad predictions, some are bound to be right. So what’s the success rate?
Also, how do you define success? For predictions that are vague it’s much easier to argue that it was successful, but of course vague predictions are next to useless precisely because they are vague. This is one element of how so-called psychics and their ilk make their livings – be vague enough that you can throw up your hands and declare success no matter what happens. I’m not familiar enough with the stories to know how much leeway the authors are being given.
The next step and the real trick — much harder IMO — is if the author was able to capture how society exploited the technology.
There is one there that could considered a real prediction; that is of communication satellites by A.C. Clarke. However, the info-graphic has both the source and date wrong. The source was a paper written by Clarke and published in Wireless Communication in 1945, where he laid out the benefits of using geostationary satellites as relays. Geostationary orbits are even now officially known a Clarke orbits.
Nice infographic. I would only argue with the claim that a polygraph is actually a lie detector…