Nov 5, 2023

Isaac Asimov Predicts The Future In 1982. Was He Correct?

Posted by in categories: ethics, internet, law, mathematics, robotics/AI

Dr. Isaac Asimov was a prolific science fiction author, biochemist, and professor. He was best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science essays. Born in Russia in 1920 and brought to the United States by his family as a young child, he went on to become one of the most influential figures in the world of speculative fiction. He wrote hundreds of books on a variety of topics, but he’s especially remembered for series like the “Foundation” series and the “Robot” series.
Asimov’s science fiction often dealt with themes and ideas that pertained to the future of humanity.

The “Foundation” series for example, introduced the idea of “psychohistory” – a mathematical way of predicting the future based on large population behaviors. While we don’t have psychohistory as described by Asimov, his works did reflect the belief that societies operate on understandable and potentially predictable principles.

Asimov’s “Robot” series introduced the world to the Three Laws of Robotics, which are:
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
These laws have been influential in discussions about robot ethics and the future of AI, even though they are fictional constructs.

Like many futurists and speculative authors, Asimov’s predictions were a mix of hits and misses.
Hits: He anticipated the rise of computer networks and something resembling the internet. He also foresaw the idea of robotic assistants and many issues that would arise with automation and the changing nature of work.

Misses: Some of Asimov’s predictions, like many other futurists’, were either too optimistic in terms of timeframes or overestimated certain societal shifts. For example, while he predicted a rise in automation, some of the specifics (like how society would handle the transition) have been more complex than he foresaw.

Here is another video I made on futurists — https://youtu.be/EtRBw00WjkY
And another one — https://youtu.be/OgUlzw-24qg.

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