10 Science Fiction Works That Inspired Real-Life Inventions

Geeks appreciate science fiction because it allows them to fulfill their dorky desire to, for instance, travel through space vicariously through their favorite Star Trek fleet commander or make friends with robots that they can program to be as socially awkward as they are. 

But the rest of us non-nerds owe science fiction a lot of gratitude – however grudgingly – because without this genre, the world would have far fewer cool inventions. Initially, the types of technology that exist in science fiction might sound unrealistic, and then at some point human civilization reaches a stage where it actually becomes possible. Check out this list of 10 works of science fiction that inspired real inventions.

1. Rossum’s Universal Robots by Karel Čapek

Predictions about robot butlers and maids haven’t come to fruition quite yet, but there’s no question that AI technology is becoming more advanced by the day, and that we have become heavily dependent on industrial automation. But back in 1920, Karel Čapek wrote a play about blissfully ignorant human-like robots who proceed to rebel against and overthrow the human race. His ideas were utterly remarkable and far ahead of its time, especially when you consider that the spoon was pretty as high-tech as things got in those days.

2. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Vernes

Vernes’ classic 1870 novel about underwater sea explorers who traveled more leagues than you could possibly imagine captured the imagination of American inventor Simon Lake, who couldn’t have been born with a more ironic last name. The story inspired him to invent the first submarine in 1898, dubbed the Argonaut. For his efforts, Vernes even sent him a congratulatory letter. Jealous?

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