The Future of…1 – Welcome to the Future
Scott Douglas Jacobsen & Rick Rosner
May 2, 2017
[Beginning of recorded material]
Rick Rosner: We don’t think much about the future. The reason being that the future has looked much like the present. In the 14th century, if you lived in a village and made shoes, there was a good chance that your kids and grandkid would make shows, and things moved slowly. The future wasn’t a threat. Now, of course, the rapidly approaching and rapidly changing future is here. Of course, the increasing pace of change means that the future is a threat.
We started to think about the future more, if only for entertainment, but I think we can benefit from doing a lot, a lot of thinking about the future. One way to start is to look at the different flavors of possible futures. That is, look at visions of the future that are already out there, one version is technological paradise, technological utopia, or the Kurzweil future. Kurzweil being an inventor who believes in the Singularity, which he says will be an era of practically infinitely powerful synthetic thinking, AIs.
He thinks that in the 2040s or sometime in the 2040s that we’ll be able to build AIs that build each other and AI will have made itself so smart that it will be able to answer any questions. So we essentially become gods via technology and can make all of our wishes come true. Another flavor of the universe is the technological dystopia, which is the world of terminator. That AIs get really smart and decide to eradicate us.
And in between the technological utopia and the dystopia are various technologically dominated futures that are take your pick of futures that anywhere along the range of horrible to awesome. There’s still some main features of those. The augmented human future, where everybody is modified technologically and biologically so that we have a bunch of people running around with superhuman characteristics.
Or if you are setting a movie in the future, you have a few people with those characteristics having adventures. Aside from those utopias and dystopias are apocalyptic futures, some are related to climate change or other fiddling with the environment due to human malfeasance. Others are like if you have zombie—in addition to different flavors of future, there are different degrees of seriousness or plausibility of the possible futures.
So on the implausible end of the apocalyptic futures are the zombie futures, the zombie apocalyptic with the entertainment value. Nobody is seriously questioning whether or not zombies will be a thing. Also, on the implausible end, but possibly slightly less implausibly because we can’t set up the possibility of this happening are the alien invasion versions, but they are still towards the unbelievable end.
Then there are ongoing apocalypse futures and then there are he miserable post-apocalypse futures and relatively peaceful agrarian and often with aspect of medieval culture post-post-apocalyptic futures. Society has rebuilt itself, but on a smaller scale and not in tune with wrecking the world. Either because we don’t have the resources to wreck the world or have found a way to live in more peace with the world.
Other soft-soft post-apocalypse futures are the Renaissance fairs and such, the green utopia futures with occasional cars around, humanity has made the decision to live more with the environment. We’ve left our rapacious technology for green technology. We’ve been rejiggered to be more gentle creatures too, away from the war-like aggressors that we evolved to be and humans are gentle and better able to co-exist.
That would be the range of boring-ass futures. Then there’s stuff that can be extrapolated from the crap that politicians say. On the Make America Great Again side. What could be presented as the Conservative-Republican future, where Christian values and culture has won out and established that a Godly shining city in the hill, I don’t know if anybody has fully fleshed this out in terms of utopia.
There is a Handmaid’s Tale, which is the most famous example of a Christian dystopia, but alternately. There should be a Christian utopia, where America stands as a bastion of traditional Christian values in defiance of a Godless world. On the other side, there would be Liberal political utopias. The futures presented by politicians tend to not be fleshed out. Because politicians aren’t in the business of creating worlds and politicians are in the business of getting votes in the here and now.
So a lot of their bullshit about the future is not well thought through or relates to specific policy positions. That’s a problem for all presentations of the future. It is hard to put together a cohesive world or a cohesive set of predictions given that changes in culture into the future will affect every aspect of culture. All of culture will change. Most projections about the future. Whether rhetorical or serious by politicians or the United Nations, whether they are statistical projections of science fiction presentations of the future, most pictures of the future are incomplete because they only take a few different factors into account.
There are only a few writers who have impressed me by making convincing attempts to address all aspects of the future in creating their worlds. There is Neal Stephenson who created a series of future worlds 10, 100, 1,000 years into the future with Accelerando. There’s the guy who wrote The Wedding Album. Doctorow is decent at this sometimes. Very few writers are interested in writing plausible, convincing future worlds.
Most are interested in telling entertaining stories. The guy who wrote The Wind Up Girl, which has a semi-plausible future. But it takes place in one city for 2 weeks undergoing a technological battle in the aftermath of what has been an unfolding ecological crisis that has devastated the Earth, but the adaptation of new green technology is there.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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