Withdraw from nature? Noooo! Well, maybe some people do—office workers, computer geeks. But the rest of us can't get enough of the outdoors—the beauty of green trees and fields, the wind on our cheeks, the perfume of flowers and new-mown grass.
Asimov's prediction depends on how you want to interpret humanity’s withdrawal. He referred to a world in which most people lived underground, in environment-controlled dwellings where windows have been replaced by glowing ceilings and walls with electrical luminous panels.
Maybe the scientist in Asimov got it right. This sort of technology exists—carpets with LEDs woven into the fabric and multi-coloured lightbulbs that link to your smartphone. Screens tempt us with news, entertainment and announcements from our friends.
In the 20th century, science fiction tended to present a positive image that showed the world as a better place. After several horrific wars and the invention of the atomic bomb, the mood of science fiction changed. The stories grew dark, and science was no longer the champion.
In recent decades, there is a more pronounced tilt toward dystopian futures, which stems from a belief that most of society has not yet reaped the benefits of technological progress.
The distinction between dystopian and utopian hinges on whether the author personally has hope for a better future.
Although I'm not a science fiction writer, I dabble in novels about the future—a world after the Great Flood when forests take over the Earth. While my co-written Higher Ground series is dystopian, the main characters are very human in their humor, beliefs, and their ability to grow and make a better future for those around them. The human spirit never changes although the circumstances in the approaching age can't be known.
As to whether science fiction authors shape our future, I can speak for myself and my co-writer Edith Parzefall. World floods are predicted by science. Multi-asteroid collisions are a possibility. In a future world without technology, I show how lone survivors band together. Under the influence of one truly good person, they strengthen society.