Indistinguishable From Magic: New Technologies, Science Fiction & Us

E E 299

Scientist and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke's “third law” states that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In this course we’ll examine how science fiction, technology and society have influenced each other and changed politics, education, entertainment, business, war, religion and medicine. Science fiction has explored the implications of new technologies on society and the individual (sometimes incorrectly). Fictional portrayals have also motivated the development of new devices.

Course Curriculum and Features

Explore communication, robotics and neural engineering technologies of the last century and likely innovations of the next two decades. We’ll examine the economic, social and political impacts, along with predictions by science fiction writers. The course includes lectures and readings, writing essays and stories, group presentations, research labs visits and meeting with a science fiction author.

Designed For

Those interested in engineering, neuroscience, computer science and mathematics.


Howard Jay Chizeck
Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering

Dates & Times

Aug 22–Sep 15, 2017

UW Seattle
9:30 a.m.–12 p.m.