I was talking with my friend Aleks Kus on the way home from a wonderful time in the city, discussing, of all things, a time machine.
(Yes, it should be noted now that I was referencing the dream I had when I either made or was given a time machine to alter movie plots.)
Yet it struck a chord with me later on. With all the scientists in the world, there is still a need for non-scientists who still love the field and wish to see it grow – who dream about a brighter future.
As I mentioned to her, Jules Verne was not a scientist – in fact, he had a law degree! H.G. Wells was not a scientist. Gene Roddenberry was not a scientist. Arthur Conan Doyle was not a scientist. Isaac Asimov…well, you got me there, he was a biochemist.
But all of them were futurists – believing that tomorrow’s technology would be infinitely better than today’s. Without H.G. Wells, we wouldn’t have the idea of time travel. Without Jules Verne, we wouldn’t have the idea of traveling to the center of the earth – and thus missing out on a huge amount of geology and understanding our “inner space”. Without Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek, we would have missed out on the ideas for the cell phone, teleportation, and an entire generation of children fixated about space travel, becoming astronauts themselves. Without Arthur Conan Doyle, we wouldn’t have the ideas for dozens – if not hundreds – of forensic techniques. Without Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, we wouldn’t have moved forward in artificial intelligence and robots actually communicating with us.
They all paved the way for a brighter future, because of coming up with the ideas for a brighter future. Yet they were all people in the humanities. Granted, they were multidisciplinary – they all had interest in the sciences and technology – but they were firmly placed in literature and film. Much like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, there are thinkers to go along with the doers – although in this case, the thinkers set the foundation for the doers to exist (becoming thinkers in the process).
In a time where math and science and importance of technological advancement are all stressed to no end, it is important to show that, along with a technological knowledge base, a technological imagination base is necessary as well.