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Dreams of Ray Bradbury: 10 predictions that came true
 
By Hayley Tsukayama, Published: June 6The Washington Post
The literary, tech and thinking worlds are mourning the loss of Ray Bradbury, 
the revered science-fiction writer who died Wednesday at age 91. Bradbury, best 
known for his 1953 novel “Fahrenheit 451,” used his imagination to take a hard 
look at a world locked in a growing love affair with technology. His stories 
examined what humanity gained — and lost — by being plugged-in.
Here are some of Bradbury’s more prescient predictions.
 
Ray Bradbury dies; sci-fi master authored ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ ‘Martian 
Chronicles’: The imaginative and prolific author wrote some of the most popular 
science-fiction books of all time, including "The Martian Chronicles" and 
"Fahrenheit 451."
●The people in the “Fahrenheit 451” society sport “seashells” and “thimble 
radios,” which bear a striking resemblance to earbuds and Bluetooth headsets. 

●Members of that futuristic society are also as obsessed with their large, 
flat-screen televisions as are today’s technophiles, and the viewing screens in 
Bradbury’s stories often take up an entire wall.
●In fact, the novel mentions that people are talking to their friends through 
the digital wall — the same terminology that Facebook would use years later for 
the digital hub that enables friends to post and see messages.
●The loneliness that can come from constantly paying attention to the screens 
around you, rather than the life around you, is a prevalent theme in Bradbury’s 
work. He explored it in his short story “The Pedestrian,” in which protagonist 
Leonard Mead is arrested for the crimes of taking a walk and not owning a 
television.
Far ahead of the research and analyses that have spawned books on the effects of 
technology overload, such as Sherry Turkle’s “Alone Together,” Bradbury outlined 
how he feared that televisions would change the world.
In this passage, he compares a neighborhood of television-watchers to a tomb:
He “would see the cottages and homes with their dark windows, and it was not 
unequal to walking through a graveyard where only the faintest glimmers of 
firefly light appeared in flickers behind he windows. Sudden gray phantoms 
seemed to manifest upon inner room walls where a curtain was still undrawn 
against the night, or there were whisperings and murmurs where a window in a 
tomblike building was still open.”
●“The Pedestrian” also features a self-driving — and self-thinking — car, which 
arrests and commits the protagonist to a mental hospital. While far less 
advanced and much less sinister, self-driving cars are on U.S. roads as part of 
a Google project. As of last month, Google’s cars, which are clearly marked, can 
legally drive on Nevada’s roads and highways as long as two people are in the 
vehicle during the tests.
●The idea of electronic surveillance also popped up in Bradbury’s work way 
before closed-circuit television became a fixture in cities around the world. He 
was early in warning people about how surveillance could be abused — worries 
that echo today.
●Bradbury’s criticism of the coverage of live media events in “Fahrenheit 451” 
is fodder for media critics’ columns today. Bradbury disparaged constant, 
sensationalized news.
●Bradbury also envisioned automated banking machines in the novel. The machines 
bear a striking similarity to ATMs and provide 24-hour financial information to 
users.
●In “I Sing the Body Electric!” and other stories, Bradbury explored artificial 
intelligence and the philosophical implications of advancements in AI that could 
perhaps produce thinking, feeling machines.
●Books aren’t banned — thank goodness — in today’s society, but reading a 
paper-and-glue version of a story isn’t as common as it once was. Bradbury loved 
physical books and did not allow “Fahrenheit 451” to be published as an e-book 
until November, London’s Guardian reported.
Bradbury once said that e-books “smell like burned fuel,” but he allowed his 
classic to be published digitally because it wouldn’t be possible to have a new 
contract without e-book rights.
●Finally, Bradbury made an imprint on the future. In his story “Sound of 
Thunder,” he portrayed how changing one small thing in history could have 
larger, unpredictable effects on what was to come. A man on a safari to the past 
steps on a butterfly, and the insect’s death drastically changes the future.
After the story was published, its turning point entered the modern lexicon, 
referred to as the “butterfly effect.”