SF has inspired many researchers, but when will the media stop reporting research as though it were SF? Here’s a feature from the Sunday Herald about Professor Tim O’Shea, now Principal of Edinburgh University:
Back in the mid-1970s, Timothy O.Shea had a vision of the future which he has lived to see come to pass. In those far off days he was based at the University of Edinburgh, of which he is presently Principal, in the department of artificial intelligence. “People just thought we were crazy,” he says. He is not exaggerating. The way he and his colleagues were portrayed in the media you might have thought Dr Who had been given an academic chair with Batman and Robin as research students. “And now,” says O.Shea, resisting the urge to indulge in smugness, “a lot of the stuff we thought of as being crazy then is there in your mobile phone”.
I found this via the AAAI Science Fiction page. This mentions other SF-inspired researchers, and has a nice quote at the top by Frederik Pohl about the proper function of SF.
“Still having a hard time with that monster?” Jean asked.
“You know. The bureaucracy.”
He nodded, smiling — then, remembering, said “Yeah. Always the same story, day in, day out.”
Jean snorted. “I’m still not convinced that thing even exists, you know. I checked the library for a slightly less wonky definition, but now I think you and the library are both screwed in the head.”
He winced at the epithet; it was certainly nothing he’d ever taught her. “How so?”
“Oh, right, Stav. Like natural selection would ever produce a hive-based entity whose sole function is to sit with its thumb up its collective butt being inefficient. Tell me another one.”
– Peter Watts and Derryl Murphy, in their short story Mayfly.
The story is available on-line at the above link.