Cyberpunk came true

Thursday, February 4th, 2021

Cyberpunk no longer feels like “the future”, Noahpinion suggests, because the cyberpunk writers of the 80s were just too good at predicting the future:

Much of the stuff they imagined is now just the stuff you see in the news.

In 2021, the Russian government hacked much of the U.S. government and many U.S. companies. Remotely piloted drones are defeating human forces on the battlefield. A whistleblower who exposed government electronic surveillance programs communicates from his foreign exile by telepresence robot. Artificial intelligences beat the best humans at the most complex board games and trade in financial markets. Information warfare and espionage are just standard tools of politics now. Animated singers are sex symbols. Militaries train in virtual reality. Online currencies are worth hundreds of billions of dollars and are used in shadowy underground economies and cybercrime. Computer interfaces are being implanted into pigs’ brains. A blind man can now see thanks to synthetic corneas.

All of these elements are recognizable as staples of 1980s and 1990s cyberpunk science fiction, or close relatives thereof. The cyberpunks anticipated the future of technology to an almost eerie degree.


  1. Hoyos says:

    Even synthwave came back.

  2. Kirk says:


    Go back and read Jan Gotlib Bloch, who basically predicted the course of WWI.

    In 1898.

    Then, there was the guy who eerily predicted what happened to the Titanic? His name was Morgan Robertson, and he wrote The Wreck of the Titan in 1898 (oddly enough…), in which an “unsinkable” ship hits an iceberg in the North Atlantic, and most of the passengers die due to a lack of lifeboats, while a few are rescued by another passing ship…

    Of course, we don’t remember all the works that failed to “get it right”, but… I would point out that this is hardly a new phenomenon, and that it’s literally been done before.

    To a really spooky and frightening extent. My grandmother had that book by Robertson in her collection, and when I read it as a kid, I thought it was a novelization of the actual event. Then, I read about it somewhere in a book about the Titanic that I got from the library, and I went back and actually looked at the date on the frontispiece. Realizing it was written and published some 14 years before the actual event…? How’s that for a freakin’ co-inky-dink.

    Bloch saw the way war was headed long before it got there, and well ahead of much of the professional military. Another chilling book to read, after the fact of WWI…

    And, there are a lot more. Hell, look at Pearl Harbor. They ran exercises based on the idea, and one of the reasons they court-martialed Billy Martin was that he’d not only gone after the battleship Navy, but that he’d warned them that Pearl Harbor was vulnerable to an attack. Which, I might add, that he predicted would happen on a Sunday morning…

  3. Jay Dugger says:

    Here’s the “so what”: who now correctly calls the future?

  4. Isegoria says:

    H.G. Wells mentions Bloch in The Land Ironclads, so he wasn’t totally ignored, but clearly most of the prophets of the Great War were Cassandras.

    I’ve discussed Bloch a few more times, too:

    Is war now impossible?
    One hundred and sixteen times more deadly
    A Great War of Entrenchments
    Sickness and Exhaustion
    Homogeneous, Self-Contianed, Self-Sufficing Units
    A Rivalry in Invention

  5. Harry Jones says:

    I’m still trying to fence three megs of hot RAM.

  6. Jim says:

    Prediction? Or programming?

  7. Jim says:

    Predicting? Or programming?

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