Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Was once famously asked by American sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick. And the answer appears to be, no, they don’t. Dog-headed knights atop horses, or camel-birds and pig-snails, and of Dali-esque mutated landscapes is what they dream of.
It might sound like science fiction, but someday, thanks to creative scientists and engineers, our world may contain autonomous or semi-autonomous robots working with people, helping us do tasks that are better suited for machines. Continue reading… “What technologies will be required for the robots of the future?”
Science fiction can be used to help scientists think about the uses and ethics of their inventions.
The Smithsonian Magazine May issue has an essay on the relationship between science, science fiction, and the future by Boing Boing buddy Eileen Gunn. She writes, “What’s science fiction good for? Major writers — Ursula K. Le Guin, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Samuel R. Delany, Kim Stanley Robinson, Cory Doctorow and others — talk about why science fiction likes to think about the future and how science fiction can be used to help scientists think about the uses and ethics of their inventions. The rest of the issue covers science and ethical issues of the near future.”
Jazz musician, Sun Ra.
Popular culture tends to turn to the fantastical, providing an escape from the harsh realities of life during times of economic and political crisis. However, what is usually represented as Utopian in mainstream science fiction is often culturally European with a story that frequently revolves around a white male character. Even when depicting “multiracial” future societies, culturally the tropes of that imagined culture are regularly not representative of the races seen. If we accept that all humanity will be present in the future, why is it that non-European cultures seem to disappear once we get through the Earth’s atmosphere?
The pace of technological innovation is accelerating quickly.
The news has been turning into science fiction for a while now. TVs that watch the watcher, growing tiny kidneys, 3D printing, the car of tomorrow, Amazon’s fleet of delivery drones – so many news stories now “sound like science fiction” that the term returns 1,290,000 search results on Google.
Arthur C. Clarke predicted the iPad and online newspapers in 1968.
Arthur C. Clarke declared in 1964, “trying to predict the future is a discouraging and hazardous occupation,” and yet he got it astoundingly right in his own predictions, including his 1968 vision for the iPad. Isaac Asimov predicted online education, Douglas Adams predicted ebooks, Ray Bradbury predicted that we would reach Mars (though, so far, we’ve only done so with robotic extensions of ourselves), and Jules Verne envisioned the hi-tech Nautilus “at a time when even a can-opener [was] considered an exciting new concept.” In fact, science-fiction authors have a formidable track record of predicting the future — but why? (Video)
Neal Stephenson launched the Hieroglyph project to rally writers to infuse science fiction with optimism.
When you think of recent films such as The Road and TV series like “The Walking Dead,” today’s science fiction, Neal Stephenson argues, is a fixated on nihilism and apocalyptic scenarios. Gone are the hopeful visions prevalent in the mid-20th century. According to Stephenson, author of modern sci-fi classics such as Snow Crash, that’s a problem. He fears that no one will be inspired to build the next great space vessel or find a way to completely end dependence on fossil fuels when our stories about the future promise a shattered world.
If things go really well, our civilization will continue to evolve and diversify.
A lot of science fiction and visions of the future from futurists lean towards the negative – and for good reason. Our environment is a mess, we have a nasty tendency to misuse technologies, and we’re becoming increasingly capable of destroying ourselves. But the demise of the civilization is by no means guaranteed. Should we find a way to manage the risks and avoid dystopic outcomes, our far future looks astonishingly bright. Here are seven best-case scenarios for the future of humanity.
50 Global Risks 2012 ncludes risks we don’t think about everyday like cyber neotribalism, the militarization of space, and a volcanic winter.
Risk management is a part of our everyday personal and professional lives. We know to look both ways before crossing the street. We also know that we must diversify our investment portfolios to mitigate the impact of a stock market crash.
But, what about the less obvious risks?
Say hello to your dream house if you have ever wanted to live inside the retro-futuristic world of a Jules Verne novel. This $1.75 million New York apartment is packed with giant gears, blimps, and a working porthole.(Pics)
Inevitably, you’ll open your toolbox and find three Gungans but not a single Torx wrench.
At the link: Doctor Who, Back to the Future, and Jurassic Park…
The iPad trumps Star Trek toys.
We don’t have flying cars, but otherwise, it can be hard for science fiction to keep up with the pace of modern technology. Evan Hoovler of blastr has a list of eight technological wonders from science fiction now present in real life, such as the PADD from Star Trek, now available as the iPad…