They say write what you know, and research what you don’t. Okay the last half of that statement is mine. If you have a Hummer in your story, it needs to be set after 1992 unless it involves the US military circa 1980. Cell phones went public in 1977, but didn’t become commercially accessible in the US until 1988. Paperclips were invented in 1899 and Band-Aids didn’t show up until 1917.
But what if your story takes place in the distant future? How are writers supposed to write about the latest technological advances if they don’t exist? They take current information, bend it, and make it their own. I recently came across the Newsweek This is Your Future article (March 13, 2011). OMG, some of that stuff sounds so crazy. Internet-accessible contact lens?
The article also mentions robots taking over high performance tasks. The movie I, Robot (2004) plays on this concept and takes it to the next level with a murder mystery involving robots and humans.
Do you write futuristic fiction? Where do you find your world building ideas?