PDA

View Full Version : The internet predicted in Sci Fi?



Noclevername
2015-Jan-21, 12:25 PM
I'm only aware of a few of examples of SF that predates the modern World Wide Web, that describes some of the effects of what a worldwide communication network would mean.

Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress had Mike the AI as a go-between for human communications, using a constructed language, but the portrayal of the influence of ubiquitous communication and video manipulation was ahead of its time in 1966.

Ender's Game, where Card pretty effectively describes blogging and the political and social influence of what we now call social media, complete with "astroturfing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing)".

A lesser example is Bruce Sterling's later Islands In The Net, which loosely previsioned some, of the economic and "big government" global ramifications of the internet (and drones), just a few years before many of them became reality. In the book, it's faxes, videoconferencing, and voice messaging rather than laptops, Skype, and texts, but the differences are fairly superficial.

Any stories you know of that explore with any degree of accuracy either the existence of a global communication net, or its ramifications? (Note, I've already made the "We Are Borg" joke once this week! ;))

Ara Pacis
2015-Jan-21, 01:58 PM
Do the Palantir count as a network?

Noclevername
2015-Jan-21, 02:03 PM
Do the Palantir count as a network?

More like the world's biggest wiretap.

Swift
2015-Jan-21, 03:15 PM
David Brin's novel Earth was published in 1990, so it isn't quite pre-Internet, but certainly early in the Internet age. He describes ubiquitous communication and video exchange and it is an important part of the story, though I read it long enough ago that I don't recall details.

Jim
2015-Jan-21, 03:22 PM
One of Asimov's robot detective novels had the premise of a world society that relied exclusively on electronic communications, mostly video. Physical contact was horrifying to them.

There was a short story (can't recall title or author) where Earth society had become almost entirely electronic communication. If you had to go out you did so in a personal car, a sort of cocoon that protected you from physical contact.

Both were pre-WWW.

Noclevername
2015-Jan-21, 03:28 PM
David Brin's novel Earth was published in 1990, so it isn't quite pre-Internet, but certainly early in the Internet age. He describes ubiquitous communication and video exchange and it is an important part of the story, though I read it long enough ago that I don't recall details.

IIRC, he talked about universal cameras and loss of even the concept of privacy. You know, pie-in-the-sky Sci-fi concepts.

danscope
2015-Jan-21, 08:23 PM
Robert Heinlein wrote often of the computer and it's network , and precisely illustrated the work station , logging in,
etc etc way before and in several books.

Nowhere Man
2015-Jan-21, 11:59 PM
"A Logic Named Joe (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Logic_Named_Joe)" by Murray Leinster, 1946, is probably the best description of the Internet from the pre-Internet days.

Fred

Trebuchet
2015-Jan-22, 12:22 AM
One of Asimov's robot detective novels had the premise of a world society that relied exclusively on electronic communications, mostly video. Physical contact was horrifying to them.

The Naked Sun (http://hhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Naked_Sun). Spoiler: The culprit convinced a robot to remove its arm then beat his neighbor over the head with it. (The human, that is, did the beating.) The victim didn't even realize the culprit was there, thinking he was a hologram or something.
(Mouse over for text.)

Buttercup
2015-Jan-22, 02:17 AM
The Naked Sun (http://hhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Naked_Sun).

:eek: Shame on you. :naughty: Now I've got that image BURNED into my mind's EYE...

Noclevername
2015-Jan-22, 02:36 AM
:eek: Shame on you. :naughty: Now I've got that image BURNED into my mind's EYE...

I see what you did there.

John Mendenhall
2015-Jan-22, 04:00 AM
Several stories and novels from before the Internet and even way before Internet featured handheld audio access to a central computer. Jack Williamson's 'The Humanoids' comes immediately to mind. If I recall correctly some of Christopher Anvil's stories featured the same. Why nobody saw the implications of person to person communication is not clear to me. However, I think it was Arthur Clarke who said "I wrote many stories about the first landing on the moon, but none of them featured global TV to watch it.

John Mendenhall
2015-Jan-22, 04:06 AM
As TREB said what we have is closer to 1984 than a social network. I think a privacy amendment to the US Constitution is in order. I am so tired of apps that ask me to turn on location services. Services my you know what.

PetersCreek
2015-Jan-22, 05:40 AM
As TREB said what we have is closer to 1984 than a social network. I think a privacy amendment to the US Constitution is in order. I am so tired of apps that ask me to turn on location services. Services my you know what.

...and there are plenty of places you can make political arguments like that. This is not one of them.

Torsten
2015-Jan-22, 06:42 AM
The Machine Stops, E.M. Forster, 1909.


But it was fully fifteen seconds before the round plate that she held in her hands began to glow. A faint blue light shot across it, darkening to purple, and presently she could see the image of her son, who lived on the other side of the earth, and he could see her.
...
"I want to see you not through the Machine," said Kuno. "I want to speak to you not through the wearisome Machine."

They travel by airship, and mail is via pneumatic post. And physical contact is horrifying to them. Is this the story, Jim?

Noclevername
2015-Jan-22, 12:21 PM
Interestingly, A Logic Named Joe and The Machine Stops are both already on my reading list.

Jim
2015-Jan-22, 01:19 PM
The Machine Stops, E.M. Forster, 1909.



They travel by airship, and mail is via pneumatic post. And physical contact is horrifying to them. Is this the story, Jim?

No, sorry. The one I'm thinking of was a love story at heart. The couple finally agreed to meet, and then got out of their cars.

Trebuchet
2015-Jan-22, 04:06 PM
As TREB said what we have is closer to 1984 than a social network. I think a privacy amendment to the US Constitution is in order. I am so tired of apps that ask me to turn on location services. Services my you know what.

I said what? Where?

Buttercup
2015-Jan-22, 04:22 PM
Yeah, but in "1984" people didn't like cameras. Orwell sure got that wrong.

swampyankee
2015-Jan-22, 04:42 PM
Several stories and novels from before the Internet and even way before Internet featured handheld audio access to a central computer. Jack Williamson's 'The Humanoids' comes immediately to mind. If I recall correctly some of Christopher Anvil's stories featured the same. Why nobody saw the implications of person to person communication is not clear to me. However, I think it was Arthur Clarke who said "I wrote many stories about the first landing on the moon, but none of them featured global TV to watch it.

The Humanoids was a great, and scary, story.

As for the Internet, we have John Brunner's Shockwave Rider. 1975

grant hutchison
2015-Jan-22, 11:14 PM
In Asimov's 1959 short story Anniversary, the protagonist has a "Multivac outlet" in his home. He types in questions and receives answers from the central computer, including at one point a print-out of a number of scientific papers.
It's not exactly the same as searching for answers on the internet, of course, but I vividly remember how that idea struck home with me, when I first read the story in the 60s - imagine having a machine right there in your house that would let you sit down and immediately access a vast storehouse of knowledge! It blew my little socks off.
(Multivac features in a lot of Asimov stories, so the home Multivac outlet may have appeared earlier than 1959.)

And ...
Having dug out my copy of Anniversary to check my recollection of the story, I've just been slightly weirded out by it. But I think I may start another thread about that.

Grant Hutchison

Noclevername
2015-Jan-23, 05:49 AM
I said what? Where?

Maybe it stands for The REd Baron?

John Mendenhall
2015-Jan-23, 09:00 AM
...and there are plenty of places you can make political arguments like that. This is not one of them.

Sorry, Brett. I never even tought of the political implications.

John Mendenhall
2015-Jan-23, 09:03 AM
I said what? Where?

And more apologies to Trebuchet. .I read too much into your first post.

SkepticJ
2015-Jan-23, 06:13 PM
Yeah, but in "1984" people didn't like cameras. Orwell sure got that wrong.

They didn't like being spied on 24/7 without a choice in the matter, which I think holds true for just about everyone, including the minutia-documentarians and narcissists on Facebook.

Noclevername
2015-Jan-23, 06:51 PM
They didn't like being spied on 24/7 without a choice in the matter, which I think holds true for just about everyone, including the minutia-documentarians and narcissists on Facebook.

Hey, look at me! Hey, look at me!

...OH MY GOD THAT CREEPY GUY'S STARING AT ME!

Ara Pacis
2015-Jan-25, 05:53 AM
I haven't read a lot of the other stories listed, but I recall Heinlein hit it on the head with Friday in 1982, but the internet was already a thing by then.

danscope
2015-Jan-25, 03:05 PM
If I recall....Heinlein hit it in 1954.

Noclevername
2015-Jan-25, 03:19 PM
If I recall....Heinlein hit it in 1954.

In which stories?

SkepticJ
2015-Jan-26, 03:29 AM
Arthur C. Clarke got it in 1968 in, you guessed it, the novel version of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

http://boingboing.net/2010/02/02/arthur-c-clarks-2001.html

Vernor Vinge wrote about the internet, hackers, etc. in his 1981 work True Names.

Ara Pacis
2015-Jan-26, 10:30 AM
In which stories?

I was wondering that too. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is more about AI, telephones, videochat and television than the WWW. Of course, by that logic, one might say that Friday is merely Archie or Veronica by telnet.

Noclevername
2015-Jan-26, 10:33 AM
Archie or Veronica
What about Betty? Everybody always forgets poor Betty...

Ara Pacis
2015-Jan-26, 10:38 AM
What about Betty? Everybody always forgets poor Betty...

I could never gopher Betty. Not my type.

danscope
2015-Jan-26, 07:14 PM
From an article written by Mitch Wagner in TOR.COM :

"Heinlein also invented the internet. In his 1938 first novel, For Us The Living, unpublished during his lifetime, Heinlein predicts a nationwide information network, from which the hero is able to instantly access a newspaper article from the previous century, from the comfort of a friend’s home. Today, the New York Times Archive is online, with articles dating back to 1851. Heinlein’s network wasn’t electronic, though; it was a series of pneumatic tubes (maybe Sen. Ted Stevens wasn’t wrong—he was just a confused Heinlein fan), with librarians at the other end who sent you photostats of articles that you requested. But Heinlein got the effects right: It was a network, and you could get answers to a wide variety of questions, some quite obscure, from the comfort of your home.

Heinlein returns to the theme near the end of his career, in the 1983 novel Friday. The area formerly known as the United States is linked by an information network. By then, this idea wasn’t new; the omnipresent information network had been part of the furniture of science fiction for many years. But Heinlein describes what it’s like to use the Web, a decade before the invention of the real thing. He describes what it’s like to get lost on the network, following one link after another in random research. His prediction wasn’t magic, random research is as old as the library. But Heinlein brings it forward into the electronic age. And he uses this kind of random wandering as a teaching method; instead of taking a class, his heroine Friday is confronted with a series of seemingly silly questions, and in the course of answering them, she spends massive amounts of time in research, soaking up seemingly unrelated and unimportant information, until she is able to predict when civilization will collapse.".

Anyone who has read Robert Heinlein will admit that he was way ahead of his time . He had a gift !!!!!

swampyankee
2015-Jan-27, 12:37 AM
I think EM Forster ("The Machine Stops", 1909) had him beat. Heinlein was probably well-read, and may have read that story (it was first published in 1909). He may also have come up with the idea independently (he was creative).

One thing remember: forerunners of the Internet, like uucp, date back to the 1970s, and time-sharing services have their origins well before then. Some academics, like Vernor Vinge, Greg Benford, and David Brin were on science, engineering, or math faculties, and would certainly have known about time-sharing; they would likely have known about uucp and the Internet well before the general public.

grant hutchison
2015-Jan-27, 01:35 PM
Maybe it's just me, but Heinlein fans seem to be particularly willing to stretch any connection between his work and real life in order to claim "Heinlein was first to invent x!".
He described pneumatic tubes linking the user to a library. Pneumatic tube technology was in widespread use in the thirties, and had been used to deliver small items over long distances since the middle of the previous century. And (for a significant fee) libraries rich enough to own a photostat machine would copy items in their collection and mail them to you on request. Heinlein's innovation was to imagine pneumatic tube technology and photostat technology becoming cheap enough on large scales to allow domestic use.

Grant Hutchison

Ara Pacis
2015-Jan-27, 04:15 PM
Maybe it's just me, but Heinlein fans seem to be particularly willing to stretch any connection between his work and real life in order to claim "Heinlein was first to invent x!".

And it's even funnier because many people consider Heinlein the great voice for independence, self-reliance and libertarianism, which is incongruous to the concept of interdependence by network.

Noclevername
2015-Jan-27, 04:25 PM
And it's even funnier because many people consider Heinlein the great voice for independence, self-reliance and libertarianism, which is incongruous to the concept of interdependence by network.

Only in his later years, when his second wife influenced his beliefs. But that gets into politics.

grant hutchison
2015-Jan-27, 05:17 PM
Only in his later years, when his second wife influenced his beliefs.And inconsistently, even then.
In truth, Heinlein often convincingly portrayed libertarianism (more convincingly than he portrayed feminism, certainly), but that didn't mean he lived always according to libertarian principles, or always took the libertarian stance in an argument.

Grant Hutchison

BigDon
2015-Jan-27, 10:16 PM
Just story-wise 1984 had it 180 out.

More cameras mean the authorities can get away with less crap.

A science fiction author in the late seventies did a modern retelling of Dante's Inferno.

In one of the purgatorial circles, before actual Hell, there was the Circle Of Virtuous Pagans.

One of the objects here were spheres with screens that allowed the viewer to look anywhere and anywhen in the Universe they wanted to look at. They may have even been able to communicate with each other through them. For eternity.

They seemed to get bored with it pretty quickly.

They obviously needed Angry Birds and Candy Crunch.

Noclevername
2015-Jan-27, 10:19 PM
A science fiction author in the late seventies did a modern retelling of Dante's Inferno.


For a second I thought you were referring to Niven and Pournelle's Inferno, but that only had Hell. Which book was this?

ToSeek
2015-Jan-27, 10:58 PM
For a second I thought you were referring to Niven and Pournelle's Inferno, but that only had Hell. Which book was this?

I think that could still be Niven and Pournelle's Inferno - there is a bit in there before Hell proper that deals with the virtuous pagans.

grant hutchison
2015-Jan-27, 11:01 PM
For a second I thought you were referring to Niven and Pournelle's Inferno, but that only had Hell. Which book was this?It's Niven and Pournelle's Inferno. According to Dante, the First Circle of Hell contains the unbaptized and the virtuous pagans. It wasn't particularly hellish (in fact, it's more pleasant than the Vestibule, where the Uncommitted are confined), which is probably why Don is remembering it as being placed outside Hell.

Grant Hutchison

Noclevername
2015-Jan-29, 06:44 AM
Maybe it's just me, but Heinlein fans seem to be particularly willing to stretch any connection between his work and real life in order to claim "Heinlein was first to invent x!".
He described pneumatic tubes linking the user to a library. Pneumatic tube technology was in widespread use in the thirties, and had been used to deliver small items over long distances since the middle of the previous century. And (for a significant fee) libraries rich enough to own a photostat machine would copy items in their collection and mail them to you on request. Heinlein's innovation was to imagine pneumatic tube technology and photostat technology becoming cheap enough on large scales to allow domestic use.

If pneumatic tubes count as the Internet, then the Library of Alexandria was also the Internet, except they used slaves and scribes instead. ;)

Noclevername
2015-Jan-29, 08:57 AM
I think the significance of the Internet is its convenience. Pneumatic tubes only go where they're installed, but an internet-capable computer can use any phone or cable lines, com satellite link, or cellular network. And it's cheap and almost instant, which a tube to a library photocopier would not be.

danscope
2015-Jan-29, 06:14 PM
In many of Heinlein's books, he describes a terminal, a desktop PC just like yours. No question. No tubes.
A keyboard and a display , and logging on etc etc. The real deal.

Noclevername
2015-Jan-29, 06:16 PM
In many of Heinlein's books, he describes a terminal, a desktop PC just like yours. No question. No tubes.
A keyboard and a display , and logging on etc etc. The real deal.

OK, but not in the story you named. Can you give titles and examples of the electronic predictions?

danscope
2015-Jan-30, 02:35 AM
I'll have to re-purchase and re-read the books I remember. I'm going back to 1964. With ten kids in our house, my "private library" got used beyond reason, books lost, given away, "leant" , "Borrowed" etc.
The "old man" with the cane figured prominently in many of his books, and it was in those that I found this.

grant hutchison
2015-Jan-30, 08:34 AM
I'll have to re-purchase and re-read the books I remember. I'm going back to 1964. With ten kids in our house, my "private library" got used beyond reason, books lost, given away, "leant" , "Borrowed" etc.
The "old man" with the cane figured prominently in many of his books, and it was in those that I found this.If you read it in the 60s and it featured Lazarus Long, then it can only be Methuselah's Children - Long didn't appear again until the 70s.

Grant Hutchison

danscope
2015-Jan-30, 08:14 PM
Hi Grant, I'm scratching my head. I'd read quite a bit out to sea ...68 through 73. After the first 100 years , your brain gets
fuzzy :)

" Oh...you were in the Navy for a hundred years?"
" No,......it only 'seemed' like a hundred years!"