Analysis Of Neal Stephenson's 'Innovation Starvation'

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Sci-fi writers and scientists are both starting to believe that science fiction may be the key to advancing our technological futures. Two different theories have been made to explain this reasoning: Inspiration theory, the idea that sci-fi will inspire people to create new technologies, and Hieroglyph theory, the idea that fully fleshed out and logical sci-fi technologies could be usable by scientists and engineers. I agree with both theories, however because both theories are inherently optimistic, I’ve begun to wonder if science fiction could also be distorting our perception of what technological progress looks and feels like. One sci-fi writer and novelist, Neal Stephenson’s, essay “Innovation Starvation” somewhat illustrates this problem where in it, he laments there being a lack of innovation since the last century. After witnessing the decline of new innovations by the world’s space programs since the ‘60s, he…show more content…
Saying things like “where’s my donut-shaped space station,” and, “where’s my ticket to Mars,” illustrate some ideas he’s had about how the future should be by now; he admits they are just childhood fantasies, but I’ve come to think that having fantasies like these are what’s likely skewing our expectations of technology and innovation in reality. Because we’ve come to expect such great advancements from humanity based on the past and our fantasies, our expectations have become unrealistic, resulting in disappointment in current technology. Stephenson cites sci-fi as being part of the solution for “innovation starvation” based on inspiration and hieroglyph theory, but he wouldn’t feel like there is a lack of innovation if he didn’t have so much optimism and hope in technology stemming from fantasy. Because sci-fi tends to inspire people and make us think about the
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