Just How Important Is Science Fiction?
For starters, SciFi's definition is so broad that it encompasses all kinds of stories with fantastic crossover potential to all other genres. As an example, it's hard to take the traditional Western and cross it over with other types of stories, but Science Fiction can do it, albeit with varying effectiveness: one man's Timerider: The Adventure Of Lyle Swann (1982) is another man's Cowboys & Aliens (2011). Both of those films take place in the Old West; both have elements tried and true to the original Western formula; and both inject their tales with equal parts Science Fiction (to a degree) in order to spin yarn for respective audiences.
Beyond that simple idea, Science Fiction -- unlike other genres -- has the greatest potential to be used in teaching others the various rights and wrongs of civilization. Ex Machina (2014) showed the up-close-and-personal risks the individual might encounter when confronting Artificial Intelligence, and every single incarnation of Gene Roddenberry's TV juggernaut Star Trek has cleverly veiled the problems of the modern age with layers of prosthetics in order to make the message a bit more palatable for viewers.
So, yes, THAT'S how important Science Fiction is to mankind.
But don't take my word for it: Wired Magazine had a terrific piece that touched on these sentiments and more. Those interested can check it out right here.
As always, thanks for reading ... and live long and prosper!