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Exploring Imaginary Worlds

· 3 min read
Bekah Hawrot Weigel
Developer Experience Lead

Before coming into tech, I spent ten years teaching college English. I've also written a couple of science fiction screenplays. To say that I'm fascinated by the power of storytelling would be an understatement. It's no surprise to me that science fiction has made an impact on open source and vice versa. So every Monday for the next three weeks, I'll have a post inspired by that relationship to hopefully inspire you.

Science fiction has the remarkable ability to transport us to imaginary worlds filled with advanced technology, new societies, and inspiring ideas. For this post, let's take a look at some notable science fiction works embracing the concept of open source-from post-scarcity societies to virtual reality realms.

Virtual Reality: Inspired by Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash introduced the concept of the Metaverse, a virtual reality universe accessible to all used for gaming, work, and socializing. The Metaverse-as we might know it in real life-is a virtual world being built by a variety of companies, including Facebook, Microsoft, and Sony. This visionary idea has influenced the development of open source virtual reality platforms like Mozilla Hubs. Many of the OSS projects inspired by Snow Crash create immersive and collaborative virtual spaces that can be explored, built upon, and customized by users.

Artificial Intelligence: Inspired by The Culture

In Iain M. Banks' Culture series, artificial intelligence governs a post-scarcity society. The Minds, highly advanced AIs, serve as benevolent overseers, managing resources and ensuring a harmonious existence. This vision inspired open source AI projects like TensorFlow. Many of these initiatives seek to democratize AI technology and create an accessible and positive space, like the AI-driven society in The Culture.

Holographic Displays: Inspired by Star Wars

The iconic holographic displays seen in the Star Wars saga have influenced the development of open source holographic projection technologies. Projects like Looking Glass and Holovect aim to bring 3D holographic displays into our everyday lives. By leveraging OSS principles, these projects allow for collaboration and innovation.

Voice Recognition and Virtual Assistants: Inspired by Star Trek

The voice-activated computer systems and virtual assistants seen in the Star Trek series have inspired real-life open source projects like Mycroft AI and OpenAI's GPT models. These initiatives focus on creating open source voice recognition and virtual assistant technologies that can be freely accessed, modified, and integrated into various applications. The aim of these projects, like the Star Trek computer, is to create an interactive, natural, and intuitive technological experience.

Robotics: Inspired by Isaac Asimov's Works

Isaac Asimov's science fiction stories, particularly his Robot series, introduced the concept of humanoid robots governed by the Three Laws of Robotics. These narratives have influenced open source robotic platforms like ROS (Robot Operating System) and Arduino. These projects provide a framework for developing and controlling robots, fostering growth in the robotics community.

Science fiction inspires and shapes our technological advancements. From virtual reality to artificial intelligence, holographic displays to voice recognition, and robotics to virtual assistants, science fiction has not only ignited our imagination but also motivated open source communities to bring these ideas to life. If you want to find more open source projects inspired by AI, check out OpenSauced's Open Source AI insights and check out the series.