I believe science fiction is dying. We can see this in movies like the Avengers and similar alternate reality movies where suspension of disbelief exists, but in a much different context than it did back in pre year 2000 visions.
Back then there was always a component of “what if” . It was obvious that something was happening and that technology was gaining traction but today there is less of a variable that could be referred to as “fantasy”. Even the most advanced technologies conjured up by science fiction are built on an existing foundation that is our reality today.
A beautiful contribution that science fiction has made to our world today is absolutely everything! Everything from the freedom and flexibility of thought, the manifestation of imagination, and directly contributing to certain sciences through inspiration and design. It is not a coincidence that our reality has dense ties to the science fiction that todays scientists and engineers were inspired by in their youth. It is not a coincidence that it is next to impossible to find a scientist that doesn’t cite Isaac Asimov , Arthur C. Clarke, or the Star Trek series as an inspiration. These stories were told at a time when technology was still in its analog and mechanical infancy.
Can we take a moment and reflect on how amazing it is that this played out the way it did? There was no guarantee back in the 1950’s and 1960’s that any of this was going to work. It was not impossible that we may have never left the surface of the planet or that computers would become the powerful systems that they are. What were the odds a world would morph into a globally networked civilization and do it within a generation?!. What place would these stories have had with us if they had remained in the realm of fantasy and our efforts to create and invent found limitation? That our efforts to electrify and digitize everything in our lives from the way we exchange information to how we engage in commerce would work so well and so easily?
Science fiction planted the seeds of inspiration and direction for todays most brilliant and capable minds, and now we are left looking at movies that show wildly advanced computing and engineering capabilities that don’t seem so out of reach. It speaks volumes that funded experiments are being done on a product that is literally called an “EM Warp Drive”. I could not imagine more telling evidence that we are living in a generation inspired by a specific genre of storytelling than the pursuit of an innovation named after something from a 1960’s TV show.
So what now? I believe that we have reached a shift where our “science fiction” is going to be altered into a format better described as “Futuretelling”.
Instead of stories of technologies we are going to see the love story of how humanity solved its trivial problems and united in the presence of our newly created tools.
Paul Coelho quotes
“Borges said there are only four stories to tell: a love story between two people, a love story between three people, the struggle for power and the voyage. All of us writers rewrite these same stories ad infinitum.”
What will the love stories of humanity look like? What will the voyage and the struggle for power look like? Will we rise by choice or by force?
If we cure disease and eliminate child mortality and all of the things we aspire too then we are going to outgrow our cage almost immediately. Where will we go? Will we regress into our low thinking competitiveness? This would cause a population explosion that could quickly become an existential crisis and no new technology would need to be developed.
Will explorers on space based environments view themselves superior to those on an alternate gravity like mars or beyond?
What about those who can afford to be the first to fully integrate with technology? Will they be kind and benevolent?
What new diseases will we face?
Will we transition away from biology all together?
What struggles will come with that?
The future and the past exist at the same time in todays world. 2019 looks like 2019 in much of the world, but in other parts it still looks like 20, 50, 100, or even a 1000 years ago.
Compare north Sentinel Island with Downtown Tokyo today. North Sentinel Islands most advanced tech are bows and arrows and possibly fire. Some predictions state that the culture is still in the stone age and reflects the same structure as it has for up to 60,000 years.
Compare this to Tokyo which is the most technologically advanced city in the world and will give tech culture shock to anyone who visits. The difference between our most primitive culture that still exists and our most advanced culture is shocking to even contemplate. One may or may not have a form of written or symbolic language and the other has 3 year olds who can work a tablets and have never known a world where they did not coexist with robots. A person from Tokyo could tell someone from another part of the world about their culture and it be indistinguishable from a story about a distant future.
This brings me back to the concept of Futuretelling. As we find ourselves in a world saturated in paradox our stories need to reflect and explore the voyage and the struggle for power. Our stories help us navigate the world on a macro scale. As this crevice grows and grows what struggles, puzzles, and conflicts will arise from these changes? What will our heroes be like? What will our victories and defeats look like?
These are the stories of Futuretelling. The stories of a future and a past that coexist in our fascinating world. What stories shall we tell knowing that the stories will sculpt the world of tomorrow?