The 1946 SF short story that nailed modern tech

From the Register:

A Logic Named Joe: The 1946 sci-fi short that nailed modern tech

70 years later, Murray Leinster’s disaster scenario is the internet you know and love

Buried deep in the pages of the March 1946 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine sits a short story by Murray Leinster that, 70 years on, has proven a remarkably sharp prediction of both 21st century consumer technology and culture.

One of two pieces contributed by Leinster, a pen name used by author William Fitzgerald Jenkins, ‘A Logic Named Joe’ tells the story of a humble repairman who finds himself scrambling to stop a machine that has become a bit too good at helping people.

Though Leinster never achieved the notoriety of other science fiction visionaries such as Asimov or Philip K Dick, ‘A Logic Named Joe’ has been recognized by, among others, the Computer History Museum as “one of the most prescient views of the capabilities of computers in a network.”

Fascinating. I don’t have the breadth of knowledge of early science fiction that would allow me to offer up an alternative candidate, and would be intrigued to hear if there were any.

Separately, it is striking how bad we are at predicting the future. We seem to be able to manage passably well with predictions about the development of technology, but downright awful when it comes to anticipating the effects on society, and especially the consequential effects.

Thought provoking stuff. Read the whole thing (including a link to the story text) here.

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