Isaac Asimov, the grandmaster of science fiction who coined the term “robotics,” was also a prolific columnist. His essays, always succinct and witty, appeared in many places: airline magazines, Newsweek, and even obscure trade publications such as SciQuest, the magazine of the American Chemical Society.
In one of these short articles, Asimov predicted Google, Wikipedia, Facebook and YouTube. The essay is called ‘Future Fantastic’ and was published in 1989 in a periodical called Special Reports Magazine. At the time, only hardcore hobbyists used modems and trawled BBS servers. Tim Berners-Lee had not yet invented the World Wide Web, and Mark Zuckerberg was not even in first grade. No one today remembers Special Reports Magazine. But Asimov’s essay, which was later reproduced in his Robot Visions anthology, survives as a tour de force of technological extrapolation.
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‘Future Fantastic’ starts as an examination of the ‘fourth revolution’ in…
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