I'm referring to this question.

This show, Search, regularly featured technology that was not possible in the time it was written, although some other shows (such as Mission: Impossible) were written as if such technology existed. We can look at the question now and easily think, "Oh, that's just high tech, it's not SF." However, having miniature cameras and being able to keep in touch, in real time, with a base station where they could interact with professional translators and other experts was speculative in 1972/1973 when the show was produced. (Those elements would still have been speculative even at the end of the 1970s.)

While the tech described in the question has all become common place in the 21st century, and while there were elements of that technology around in that time, I would think it would still be considered speculative or SF at that time. There were cameras in that time, but electronic cameras that could be worn were decades away. So was easy contact with a distant location without higher powered and big (as in easily seen by others) equipment.

The question was poorly asked (and I cleaned it up a little and will be glad to clean it up more and spell out more of the technology next week when I have more time), but it was about a show that dealt with speculative technology.

True, what was in the show is all old-hat now, but it seems to me that the show would still be SF, since characters in it frequently used technology beyond contemporary capabilities.

(Also, the "on hold" notice states, "This question does not appear to be about science fiction or fantasy within the scope defined in the help center." Yet there is no clear definition of what is SF or F in the help center.)

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    Almost all of the technologies you've mentioned were actually possible in the 1970s, just not at the scale seen on screen. Is miniaturisation considered "science fiction"? Can you offer any examples that went beyond the contemporary tech?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 1:17
  • 2
    @Richard Miniaturization for many technologies is sci-fi, as it supposes advances that do not currently exist. For a current example, see robots. Smaller and more advanced power sources enable them to be autonomous, without needing to recharge daily like modern robots. Just because we have iRobot vacuum cleaners doesn't mean Rosie wasn't (and isn't) sci-fi.
    – user1027
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 1:28
  • 2
    See also Dick Tracy's watch.
    – user1027
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 1:28
  • 1
    I would say the 6 million dollar man will always be Scifi, even after they are able to engineer and employ bionics far and above todays technology. Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 1:29
  • @Keen - I would argue that while Rosie's AI is certainly science fictional, her arm or wheels aren't.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 1:31
  • 3
    @MajorStackings Is that because real life bionics will never make the NANANANANA sound?
    – user1027
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 1:33
  • @Richard: While I may be splitting hairs, I would argue that Rosie's wheels are, since there is a very small set of wheels for a larger robot, and the technology needed to maintain balance for that kind of scale is quite complex.
    – Tango
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 4:49
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    @Tango - The fact that she stay upright on two wheels is actually pretty impressive.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 20:45
  • @Richard: This indicates Rosie has three (or more?) wheels. I found several screenshots that indicated the same. cartoonscrapbook.com/03pics/jetsons09.jpg
    – Tango
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 1:02
  • @Tango - Even so, that's pretty impressive at speed.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 1:07
  • 1
    @Keen : Well, they recently announced the Smart Watch, which trumps Dick Tracy by a bit. But yea, I think it's pertinent to look at the average level of technology WHEN the IP was created, not in relation to what's currently available.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 18:49
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    @Omegacron AFAIK, all smart watches are dependent on smartphones to be nearby to piggyback things like cell/GPS/etc. So it doesn't trump it.
    – user1027
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 20:41

2 Answers 2


Short answer: Yes.

In this specific case, the show was about people who had implanted communication devices, and the show aired about 5 years before the first cochlear implants existed. Other technology in the show included a scanner each agent carried:

The scanner was able to retrieve signals "off presence" of the agent and give medical telemetry readings of the people our Probe agents would run into. For example, an adrenaline surge indicating a probable lie could be detected by Probe Control

Which doesn't sound like technology that existed at the time, and probably doesn't exist presently. Especially not in a handheld gadget.

In general, I'm loathe to waste time arbitrating if various technologies outlined in then-sci-fi works have now been accomplished in real life, thus rendering the work no longer on topic for this site. Past predictions of the future is what science fiction is largely about, and retroactively declaring predictions of the fantastic as being totally mundane is not something I'm up for.


It seems to me that the question is really about language. That is, in order to answer the question, all we have to do is agree on the definition of "science fiction."

So, at the risk of sounding cheeky, here is the dictionary.com definition:

A form of fiction that draws imaginatively on scientific knowledge and speculation in its plot, setting, theme, etc.

According to that definition, sci-fi has to do with the writing process itself. This, of course, remains the same regardless of the state of real-life technology. Jules Verne, for example, is generally considered a science fiction writer. However, it is safe to say that we mostly caught up to him.

  • 2
    Heh, I was going to add a mention of Jules Verne to my answer, but you've already taken care of that.
    – user1027
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 1:00
  • Can't let the host of this whole party sit in the corner like that :)
    – Misha R
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 7:35
  • Obligatory xkcd: xkcd.com/309
    – Kroltan
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 22:47

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