When writers talk about science, science fiction, technology, the Internet, social media and gadgets, they may sound visionary, clever, insightful, funny and original. However, some of them may also sound clueless, conservative, ordinary or naive. The marked difference between writers and non-writers regarding the topic of technology – or any other, for that matter – is that the former group gets their ideas across much more clearly and precisely. They are great at language and style. Yet, most of them lack scientific training or knowledge. So should we expect anything deeper from their views? Please read the following quotes by famous writers on science, innovation and dystopias and decide which ones work for you.
1. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clark. Profiles of the Future: An Enquiry into the Limits of the Possible.(1973)
2. Anything that is theoretically possible will be achieved in practice, no matter what the technical difficulties are, if it is desired greatly enough. Arthur C. Clarke. Hazards of Prophecy: An Arresting Inquiry into the limits of the Possible: Failures of Nerve and Failures of Imagination. (1973)
3. It is only when science asks why, instead of simply describing how, that it becomes more than technology. When it asks why, it discovers Relativity. When it only shows how, it invents the atom bomb, and then puts its hands over its eye and says, ‘My God what have I done? Ursula K. Le Guin. The Stalin in Soul(1973).
4.Science and technology multiply around us. To an increasing extent they dictate the languages in which we speak and think. Either we use those languages, or we remain mute. J. G. Ballard. In the Introduction to the French edition (1984) of Crash. (1974).
5. You know the formula m over naught equals infinity, m being any positive number? [m/0 = ∞]. Well, why not reduce the equation to a simpler form by multiplying both sides by naught? In which case you have m equals infinity times naught [m = ∞ × 0]. That is to say, a positive number is the product of zero and infinity. Doesn’t that demonstrate the creation of the Universe by an infinite power out of nothing? Doesn’t it? Aldous Huxley. Point Counter Point (1928).
6. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn. Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451. (1953)
7. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no need of change. H.G. Wells. The Time Machine. (1895)
8. The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better. George Orwell. 1984. (1949)
9. Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced. Aldous Huxley. Brave New World. (1931)
10. Freedom, like everything else, is relative. Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid’s Tale. (1985)
11. Only people who are afraid of the water want to understand it. Other people jump in and get wet. Michael Crichton. Sphere. (1987)
12. It’s hard to kill a creature once it lets you see its consciousness. Carl Sagan.Contact. (1985)
13. You are allowed to feel messed up and inside out. It doesn’t mean you’re defective – it just means you’re human. David Mitchell. Cloud Atlas. (2004)
14. Nature’s creative power is far beyond man’s instinct of destruction. Jules Verne. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. (1870)
15. We don’t want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos. Stanisław Lem. Solaris. (1961)
16. Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so. Douglas Adams. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (1979)
17. I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald’s would still be open. Susan Beth Pfeffer. Life As We Knew It. (2006)
18. The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. Isaac Asimov.
19. Man is an artifact designed for space travel. He is not designed to remain in his present biologic state any more than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole. William S. Burroughs. The Adding Machine – Selected Essays. (1985)
20. I still love books. Nothing a computer can do can compare to a book. You can’t really put a book on the Internet. Three companies have offered to put books by me on the Net, and I said, ‘If you can make something that has a nice jacket, nice paper with that nice smell, then we’ll talk.’ All the computer can give you is a manuscript. People don’t want to read manuscripts. They want to read books. Books smell good. They look good. You can press it to your bosom. You can carry it in your pocket. Ray Bradbury.
21. I don’t think humanity just replays history, but we are the same people our ancestors were, and our descendants are going to face a lot of the same situations we do. It’s instructive to imagine how they would react, with different technologies on different worlds. That’s why I write science fiction — even though the term ‘science fiction’ excites disdain in certain persons. Kage Baker
22. Change happens very slow and very sudden. Dorothy Bryant. The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You. (1976)
23. Language exists less to record the actual than to liberate the imagination.Anthony Burgess. In the introduction to The Best Stories of J.G. Ballard. (1978)
24. Do you ever wonder if–well, if there are people living on the third planet?’ ‘The third planet is incapable of supporting life,’ stated the husband patiently. ‘Our scientists have said there’s far too much oxygen in their atmosphere.” Ray Bradbury. The Martian Chronicles. (1950)
25. We need to re-create boundaries. When you carry a digital gadget that creates a virtual link to the office, you need to create a virtual boundary that didn’t exist before. Daniel Goleman
26. There’s a danger in the internet and social media. The notion that information is enough, that more and more information is enough, that you don’t have to think, you just have to get more information – gets very dangerous. Edward de Bono. In an interview for news.com.au. (2011)
27. Distracted from distraction by distraction. T.S. Eliot. Four Quartets. (1936)
28. First of all, I know it’s all people like you. And that’s what’s so scary. Individually you don’t know what you’re doing collectively. Dave Eggers. The Circle. (2013)
29. The more time we spend interconnected via a myriad of devices, the less time we have left to develop true friendships in the real world. Alex Morritt. Impromptu Scribe. (2014)
30. Any teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be! Arthur C. Clark. Electronic Tutors. (1980).
Do you know any other quotes on technology you would like to share with us? Please use the comments space below.