From Science Fiction To Reality With Artificial intelligence (infographic)

Science fiction shows us a reality that could be, good or bad. Most often it shows us the dark future of current tech if allowed to continue to develop unfettered and if it falls into the wrong hands. We’ve all seen horror stories about robots that take over and enslave humans to do their bidding. But fortunately not all science fiction is quite that dark, and it can also show us the good side of tech living with humans. There are a lot of inventions that started off as sci-fi fantasies but which have revolutionized our lives for the better. When sci-fi turns real, it can make our lives better in measurable ways.

Star Trek is a perfect example of many things that started off as fiction but that eventually became a reality. ‘Trek Tech’ as it is usually called has a whole cult following of its own. Universal translators first came on the scene in Star Trek: The Original Series in 1966, though if you go by the Star Trek timeline the technology existed long before the NCC-1701 in the NX-01 version of the Enterprise. The main idea of the Universal Translator is to be able to communicate with alien species in a timely and efficient manner, and while early versions relied on a skilled exolinguist to make sense of the translations, later versions were able to make translations immediately. In other sci-fi stories the universal translators took a different form. In 1979’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, a ‘Babel Fish’ was placed in the ear and attached itself to the brain, performing translating services in exchange for a symbiotic relationship with its host. Today these technologies aren’t as far-fetched as they were once imagined to be. Google Assistant's Interpreter Mode serves a similar function, translating 27 Earth languages for the user. While it still isn’t perfect, it is bridging a gap that can lead to a more open and peaceful society.

The Jetsons cartoon premiered in 1962 with a whole host of robotic and artificial intelligence aids to help the Jetsons live their best lives. Rosie the robotic maid took care of cooking and cleaning, while a screen with an antenna was where video calls were made and received. Today we have things like Skype and the Facebook Portal to make and receive video calls when we want to, and the Roomba robotic vacuum takes care of the vacuuming, while the Dolphin robot takes care of cleaning the pool, and a multitude of lawn mowing robots are available to take care of lawn work. On top of that, the Moley Robotic Kitchen can cook meals and be programmed with new recipes. Having technology to handle the mundane tasks is nice, but it can also create a more equitable division of labor in a world where women are increasingly in the workforce.

Of course, the surveillance state is another sci-fi invention that has unequivocally come to be. We have smart televisions, smartphones, and digital assistants that are all listening to the conversations in our homes and businesses, some of which are using that information to serve us ads and gain demographic information for manufacturers. There are also surveillance cameras looking for criminals that can’t tell the difference between the people they are looking for and members of congress. There are lots of problems that need to be addressed before this technology is more widespread and dystopia starts to look like a real possibility.

Learn more about inventions that have gone from sci-fi fiction to reality from the infographic below. Are you ready for the sci-fi reality of tomorrow?

AI has been making science fiction dreams into reality for decades - infographic

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