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Sci-Fi Prophecy Becoming Reality

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  • G David Bock
    replied
    Why Futurism Has a Cultural Blindspot

    We predicted cell phones, but not women in the workplace.

    ....
    In early 1999, during the halftime of a University of Washington basketball game, a time capsule from 1927 was opened. Among the contents of this portal to the past were some yellowing newspapers, a Mercury dime, a student handbook, and a building permit. The crowd promptly erupted into boos. One student declared the items “dumb.”

    Such disappointment in time capsules seems to run endemic, suggests William E. Jarvis in his book Time Capsules: A Cultural History. A headline from The Onion, he notes, sums it up: “Newly unearthed time capsule just full of useless old crap.” Time capsules, after all, exude a kind of pathos: They show us that the future was not quite as advanced as we thought it would be, nor did it come as quickly. The past, meanwhile, turns out to not be as radically distinct as we thought.

    In his book Predicting the Future, Nicholas Rescher writes that “we incline to view the future through a telescope, as it were, thereby magnifying and bringing nearer what we can manage to see.” So too do we view the past through the other end of the telescope, making things look farther away than they actually were, or losing sight of some things altogether.

    These observations apply neatly to technology. We don’t have the personal flying cars we predicted we would. Coal, notes the historian David Edgerton in his book The Shock of the Old, was a bigger source of power at the dawn of the 21st century than in sooty 1900; steam was more significant in 1900 than 1800.
    As Amazon experiments with aerial drone delivery, its “same day” products are being moved through New York City thanks to that 19th-century killer app: the bicycle.

    But when it comes to culture we tend to believe not that the future will be very different than the present day, but that it will be roughly the same. Try to imagine yourself at some future date. Where do you imagine you will be living? What will you be wearing? What music will you love?

    Chances are, that person resembles you now. As the psychologist George Lowenstein and colleagues have argued, in a phenomenon they termed “projection bias,”1 people “tend to exaggerate the degree to which their future tastes will resemble their current tastes.”
    ....
    This over- and under-predicting is embedded into how we conceive of the future. “Futurology is almost always wrong,” the historian Judith Flanders suggested to me, “because it rarely takes into account behavioral changes.” And, she says, we look at the wrong things: “Transport to work, rather than the shape of work; technology itself, rather than how our behavior is changed by the very changes that technology brings.” It turns out that predicting who we will be is harder than predicting what we will be able to do.
    ...
    Like the hungry person who orders more food at dinner than they will ultimately want—to use an example from Lowenstein and colleagues—forecasters have a tendency to take something that is (in the language of behavioral economics) salient today, and assume that it will play an outsized role in the future. And what is most salient today? It is that which is novel, “disruptive,” and easily fathomed: new technology.

    As the theorist Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes in Antifragile, “we notice what varies and changes more than what plays a larger role but doesn’t change. We rely more on water than on cell phones, but because water does not change and cell phones do, we are prone to thinking that cell phones play a larger role than they do.”
    .....
    In the same way that our focus on recent innovations causes people to overemphasize their importance, to see them as hastening a radically transformed future—like Google Glass was supposed to—the backward look is distorted so that technologies are rendered prematurely obsolete. The prescience of near-future speculations, like Bladerunner, comes less from uncannily predicting future technologies (it shows computer identification of voices, but Bell Labs was working on spectrographic analysis of human voices in the 1940s5) than in anticipating that new and old will be jarringly intermingled. Films that depict uniformly futuristic worlds are subtly unconvincing—much like historical period films in which cars on the street are all perfect specimens (because those are the only ones that have survived). Dirt and ruin are as much a part of the future as they are the past.

    People in the innovation-obsessed present tend to overstate the impact of technology not only in the future, but also the present. We tend to imagine we are living in a world that could scarcely have been imagined a few decades ago. It is not uncommon to read assertions like: “Someone would have been unable at the beginning of the 20th century to even dream of what transportation would look like a half a century later.”6 And yet zeppelins were flying in 1900; a year before, in New York City, the first pedestrian had already been killed by an automobile. Was the notion of air travel, or the thought that the car was going to change life on the street, really so beyond envisioning—or is it merely the chauvinism of the present, peering with faint condescension at our hopelessly primitive predecessors?
    ....
    https://getpocket.com/explore/item/w...=pocket-newtab

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  • Mountain Man
    replied
    Originally posted by wolfhnd View Post

    Our electronic gadget addiction has made us so much easier to spy on, track, and manipulate.
    Unquestionably, and yet it isn't enough. Many in government, and some dirtbags like Gates, want to microchip us.

    BTW - keep in mind that much of the electronics that now are used against us are manufactured and sold to us by Japan.

    Leave a comment:


  • wolfhnd
    replied
    Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

    My wife has a wristwatch cellphone. What's the connection to a "police state"?

    Frankly, I'd rather have Superman around fighting crime.
    Our electronic gadget addiction has made us so much easier to spy on, track, and manipulate.

    Leave a comment:


  • Mountain Man
    replied
    Originally posted by G David Bock View Post
    Lastest redux ...

    Sci-Fi Writer Jules Verne Wrote Predictions About The Future – And He Was Eerily Accurate

    https://historicalpost.com/anthropol...rm=3908217&l=a

    Slide show warning ...
    Some people think Verne was walk-in, like da Vinci and others thrughout history. People who seem to know what's coming.

    Leave a comment:


  • Mountain Man
    replied
    Originally posted by wolfhnd View Post

    Duck Tracey got his first wrist communicator in 1946. Ironic connection to the current police state perhaps.
    My wife has a wristwatch cellphone. What's the connection to a "police state"?

    Frankly, I'd rather have Superman around fighting crime.

    Leave a comment:


  • wolfhnd
    replied
    Originally posted by LtCol View Post
    The first mention of a mobile phone that I know was the 1947 book Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein. One of the characters phone rings and he takes it out of his pocket while another remarks that he had left his in his suitcase so that his mother could not keep calling
    Duck Tracey got his first wrist communicator in 1946. Ironic connection to the current police state perhaps.

    Leave a comment:


  • joea
    replied
    I am actually wondering with the rush to do everything online the world of the strangely prescient shot story of 1909 (!) by E.M. Forster "The Machine Stops" or the elite Asimov's "The Naked Sun" isn't where we are going...

    Leave a comment:


  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    The thing that did the participants in most effectively were the ants and cockroaches that took over the facility... Both were put in the mix for some reason and both thrived in the environment.

    Leave a comment:


  • G David Bock
    replied
    Best place for now .....
    Eight Go Mad in Arizona: How a Lockdown Experiment Went Horribly Wrong

    In the 1990s, a troupe of hippies spent two years sealed inside a dome called Biosphere 2. They ended up starving and gasping for breath. As a new documentary Spaceship Earth tells their story, we meet the ‘biospherians.’

    .....
    It sounds like a sci-fi movie, or the weirdest series of Big Brother ever. Eight volunteers wearing snazzy red jumpsuits seal themselves into a hi-tech glasshouse that’s meant to perfectly replicate Earth’s ecosystems. They end up starving, gasping for air and at each other’s throats – while the world’s media looks on.

    But the Biosphere 2 experiment really did happen. Running from 1991 to 1993, it is remembered as a failure, if it is remembered at all – a hubristic, pseudo-scientific experiment that was never going to accomplish its mission. However, as the new documentary Spaceship Earth shows, the escapade is a cautionary tale, now that the outside world – Biosphere 1, if you prefer – is itself coming to resemble an apocalyptic sci-fi world. Looking back, it’s amazing that Biosphere 2 even happened at all, not least because the people behind it started out as a hippy theatre group.

    “Just the fact that the same number of people came out as went in is a triumph,” says Mark Nelson, one of the original eight “biospherians”. Far from a failure, he regards Biosphere 2 as an unsung achievement in human exploration, as do many others. “I like to say we built it not because we had the answers. We built it to find out what we didn’t know.”
    .......
    https://getpocket.com/explore/item/e...=pocket-newtab

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  • G David Bock
    replied
    The Rise of Dismal Science Fiction

    To understand our economic system, we need speculative stories.
    .............


    After William Gibson coined the term cyberspace in his 1984 novel Neuromancer, it almost immediately entered our everyday vocabulary. A play on information theorist Norbert Wiener’s idea of cybernetics, cyberspace became shorthand for the world inside our networked computers, that digital landscape where we met to chat, play games, and exchange intimate secrets. Today, cyber is part of our political language, too, used to describe everything from digital warfare to online intelligence gathering. What often gets forgotten about the origin story of this term is that Gibson wasn’t just talking the future of computers, but of a world where tech corporations rule every aspect of our lives.

    We’re used to science fiction providing us with commentary on technology, and vocabulary to discuss its more worrisome consequences. But underlying our fears of robots stealing our jobs or corporations turning us into consumer droids are more basic anxieties about money—and science fiction is increasingly reflecting that. For audiences grappling with the fear of poverty, or simply bewildered by postmodern economics, stories like Game of Thrones, Black Panther, and Malka Older’s critically acclaimed novel Infomocracy function like Aesop’s Fables for the 21st century.
    .......
    https://getpocket.com/explore/item/t...=pocket-newtab
    Last edited by G David Bock; 29 Jul 20, 18:18.

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  • G David Bock
    replied
    Clicking on the "next page" took me right to it. Must be either your server or computer

    Leave a comment:


  • Karri
    replied
    That was like two dozen ads before I even got to the predictions...

    Leave a comment:


  • G David Bock
    replied
    Lastest redux ...

    Sci-Fi Writer Jules Verne Wrote Predictions About The Future – And He Was Eerily Accurate

    https://historicalpost.com/anthropol...rm=3908217&l=a

    Slide show warning ...

    Leave a comment:


  • G David Bock
    replied
    Something Is Broken in Our Science Fiction

    Why can’t we move past cyberpunk?

    ...
    When it first emerged more than 30 years ago, cyberpunk was hailed as the most exciting science fiction of the ’80s. The subgenre, developed by a handful of younger writers, told stories of the near future, focusing on the collision of youth subcultures, new computer technologies, and global corporate dominance. It was only ever a small part of the total SF field, but cyberpunk received an outsize amount of attention. Since then, its characteristic tropes have become clichés. By 1992, they could be hilariously parodied by Neal Stephenson in Snow Crash (a novel often mistaken as an example of the subgenre it meant to mock). In 1999, the Wachowskis brought cyberpunk to a mass audience with The Matrix.

    Meanwhile, myriad new SF subgenres and microgenres have been discovered or invented, each trying to recapture the excitement cyberpunk once generated. The list is long to the point of parody. There’s steampunk, biopunk, nanopunk, stonepunk, clockpunk, rococopunk, raypunk, nowpunk, atompunk, mannerpunk, salvagepunk, Trumppunk, solarpunk, and sharkpunk (no joke!), among others. In 2019, my Twitter feed was choked with discussions (and mockery) of hopepunk, after Vox published an article in December announcing its arrival. The term, coined by Alexandra Rowland, was meant to describe fiction that resists dystopian pessimism in favor of “DEMANDING a better, kinder world, and truly believing that we can get there if we care about each other as hard as we possibly can, with every drop of power in our little hearts.”

    Like cyberpunk, these new sci-fi punk movements combine genre conventions and political attitudes. If you’re a hopepunk, for example, you’re the sort of person who commits to remaining optimistic in the face of a bleak or dystopian world, unlike your “grimdark” opponents. Solarpunks, meanwhile, proclaim their commitment to“ingenuity, generativity, independence, and community” and oppose the nihilistic tendencies of cyberpunk and the reactionary tendencies of steampunk.
    ...
    The persistence of cyberpunk under different labels is, perhaps, to be expected. After all, as many writers insist, science fiction isn’t in any real sense about the future. “Prediction is the business of prophets, clairvoyants, and futurologists,” Ursula Le Guin writes in the introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness. It’s “not the business of novelists.” The real business of science fiction writers is to offer metaphors designed to help us see ourselves more clearly. And, though few think mirrorshade glasses are cool anymore, cyberpunk’s interests in the collision of digital media, underground subcultures, and transnational corporate power can feel as relevant today as they did when William Gibson’s first Sprawl short story, “Burning Chrome,” was published, or when Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga Akira first appeared in 1982. If we’re still drawn to cyberpunk, that might be because 2019 is far more like 1982 than we’d care to admit.
    ...
    https://getpocket.com/explore/item/s...=pocket-newtab

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  • G David Bock
    replied
    50 surprising things that didn't exist 10 years ago

    ...
    Depending on who you ask (and how his or her decade went), 2009 might seem like just a few minutes ago or eons away. Looking back, the United States in 2009 had just elected the first African American president; Instagram was still just a speck in the imaginations of its two future inventors; and Juul didn't exist. Many of today's hallmarks of modern life––from social networks and online dating to preventive medicine and meal delivery kits––have been introduced in these critical 10 years.

    Many of these inventions and adoptions have fundamentally altered the course of American life. On the technological side, the advent of such gadgets as tablets, smartwatches, and even home security systems allow people to do more than ever with the simple stroke of a few keys. Norms have shifted significantly surrounding some issues during this decade, too. Online dating was becoming more mainstream in 2009 than at the turn of the century but was hardly as ubiquitous a match-making tool as the practice is today. Pot-smokers a decade ago had to buy marijuana from the black market; today, high-end dispensaries and medical offices in a growing number of states can sell weed and its associated products legally.

    A quick look at the advances that have occurred in recent years also shed a lot of light on people’s priorities over the past decade. For example, it’s clear with the development of some apps that people have had a big focus on saving time. Apps like Instacart and Postmates allow people to have their groceries or food delivered directly to their doors, while meal prep kits like Blue Apron allow people who would enjoy cooking to do so without having as much prep or waste: Everything can be delivered pre-assembled and measured out perfectly. From grocery delivery services to personal technology, Stacker surveyed dozens of surprising things that didn’t exist 10 years ago and whittled that list down to 50. It seems for every breakthrough or trend there are a dozen more in fast order coming at us promising to make our lives healthier, more organized, more convenient, and more fun.
    ...
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/...z&ocid=msnbcrd

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