Science Fiction to Motivate Your Technology Studies

Symbolic Creativity

Science fiction writers have a rich history of expanding minds and challenging the limitations of modern technology and ethics. In his academic article on science fiction and technology scenarios, researcher Dominic Idier articulates how “science fiction, a form of symbolic creativity, often considers the consequences of technology for society and mankind.” Writers can anticipate social and ethical dilemmas decades before they arise. Storytelling training and an appreciation for science fiction can enrich your understanding of technology. Here is a collection of recommended books to inspire your mind and build your curiosity around science and technology.

I, Robot (1950)

What sounds cooler than futuristic robots malfunctioning and posing a threat to humanity despite their rigid moral programming? In his foundational robotics novel, author Isaac Asimov writes a series of interwoven short stories set in a world where robots are commonplace, but ethics are another story. The novel loosely follows the recollections of Dr. Susan Calvin, a prominent robopsychologist working for the largest robot manufacturing company in the world. Through his writing, Asimov offers a powerful conundrum that may keep you up at night. What good are ethics when they are programmed? How can a robotic be moral when it is simply following its code? How are humans any different?

“Sizzling Saturn, we’ve got a lunatic robot on our hands.”

- Isaac Asimov

If you are curious about ethics and robotics, stop whatever you are doing and get your hands on a copy of this book. You will not regret it.

The Circle (2013)

This philosophical quote from Dave Eggers’ The Circle reflects the contrast between privacy and surveillance, ignorance and intrusion. The novel focuses on Mae Holland, an eager young woman who undergoes indoctrination as an employee at a powerful tech company. Mae navigates her changing role in a society which increasingly rejects privacy in the name of honesty and integrity. Eggers writes about sophisticated and intrusive technologies, which ultimately turn her world into a surveillance society. He crafts an ominous ideology to define this dystopian world: “secrets are lies, sharing is caring, privacy is theft.” Sound troubling? It should.

“Did you ever think that perhaps our minds are delicately calibrated between the known and the unknown? That our souls need the mysteries of night and the clarity of day?”

- Dave Eggers

This book is worth reading if you are passionate about programming, coding, privacy or surveillance. Because the story relies on cloud computing and futuristic technology, it would also be inspiring for anyone who is considering AWS certification or Microsoft Azure certification training. You can then build on your inspiration through Python certification training or additional cybersecurity courses.

Klara and the Sun (2021)

You may have heard of prolific writer Kazuo Ishiguro because of his previous novels such as The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go, The Buried Giant or When We Were Orphans. His latest contribution to the literary world is a dynamic and moving narrative that involves artificial intelligence, personal connection and genetic modification. The dystopian story follows Klara, an observant and compassionate artificial being whose purpose is to serve a human child as her artificial friend. Through his beautiful writing, Ishiguro encourages readers to question our assumptions about personal identity, technology and consciousness. The story also reminds us how advances in computer science, robotics and artificial intelligence bring us closer to an automated future, which some people fear and others are inspired by.

“It’s not faith you need. Only rationality.”

- Kazuo Ishiguro

This book will fascinate you particularly if you are interested in robotics training. It will be a fantastic read for anyone who is curious about studying artificial intelligence or perhaps taking a machine learning course to better understand advances in artificial intelligence and programming.

Honourable Mentions

Science fiction is a diverse and challenging medium with no shortage of inspiration. Here are some additional recommendations and honourable mentions to motivate your passion for technology and desire for continuing education. Each of these books offers a unique perspective on the interconnectivity of technology and humanity.

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • Dawn by Octavia E. Butler
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
  • Minority Report by Philip K. Dick
  • The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden
  • Metropolis by Thea von Harbou
  • The Three-body Problem by Cixin Liu
  • Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Written by: CJ McGillivray

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