I’ve written before about the positive effects that science fiction as a genre can have on the advancement of technology. By thinking far enough into the future, explaining the details of how mankind will overcome current technological hurdles becomes far less important for most writers than thinking about the knock-on effects that these changes will have on the humans that inhabit that society (however that evolves).
I read a great post today by Tiago Forte (‘What I Learned About The Future By Reading 100 Science Fiction Books‘) that focuses precisely on this point. Here’s a few takeaways:-
- If you want to move the species forwards, you’re not going to find inspiration simply by reading the same material online as everyone else.
- Mankind will inevitably evolve in a manner that will cause divisions once we are forced to colonise places beyond the Earth as individuals become exposed to a vast variety of differing external stimuli according to their location and for periods measured in years, not days (such as gravity, radiation, gene pools within a distant settlement etc)
- Once we start to travel immense distances, time will radically change everything – those who embark on an epic journey are unlikely to be the first to arrive at their destination because technology will advance during their absence that means that others will leave later but get there sooner.
- In the same way, technology will become outdated even more quickly – one great example is the 4 megapixel camera in use on the Rosetta spacecraft that was launched back in 2004 that is now lower quality than your average mobile phone camera today.
- When we reach the singularity, the chances are that the ‘wide’ AI that develops will not be precoccupied solely with solving the problems that we believe need to be solved today. Instead, it will likely start to seek answers to issues that we can neither comprehend nor have the language to describe currently.
Sure, these aren’t issues that are knocking on the door demanding a solution today. But progress is inevitable and it’ll be fascinating to see how things pan out (no doubt virtually, given the fact that we’re talking about a time well after ours when blogs such as this are no more than a random historical artefact).