I think sci-fi is one of the most important literary forms around. It’s often pejoratively termed “genre” fiction, and thus lumped in with the likes of bodice-ripping romance novels (read: very low on the artistic merit scale). But to me, in this day and age, any work of art that helps us envision the future of mankind and the role of technology in that future is a service to humanity.
As proof that sci-fi is intellectually and scientifically valuable, witness: Nine Words You Might Think Came from Science but Which Are Really from Science Fiction . From the Oxford University Press blog, no less. Some dude even wrote a book all about it, Brave New Words. You can check that out at the above link as well.