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Old November 28 2012, 08:46 PM   #210
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Re: What are your top 5 technologies of the next 15 years?

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
Talosian wrote: View Post
Edit: I would add that it's obvious that an age of unbelief of technology would not produce something like the original Star Trek today. Even its remake exemplifies the shift of the zeitgeist. I'm with Neal Stephenson on this one: we need more techno-optimism in science fiction and our popular culture in general.
This would be the same Neal Stephenson that predicted (if semi-satirically) the wholesale privatization of the United States? The same Neal Stephenson who -- much LESS satirically -- depicted the resurgence of the fanatical "Fists of Righteous Harmony" via the availability of cheap nanotech weapons?

I think Neal Stephenson doth protest too much.

We may have been badly oversold on the future in the 20th century but our current pessimism is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of stagnation.
Except scifi writers don't drive technological development, hence there's nothing self-fulfilling about that prophecy. If anything, the pessimists are simply less naive than the previous generation of science fiction fans and have a more realistic vision of the kinds of things progress could be expected to change.

It's also worth pointing out that techno-optimism may be more cultural than anything else. It was easy to be optimistic during the Great Society and the Baby Boom, when America rode a tidal wave of economic growth in the aftermath of World War-II and it seemed like a whole new world was just around the corner. The younger generation has, by comparison, experienced little else but slow stagnation ever since, punctuated by welcome (if isolated) social and technological progress, juxtapositioned with widespread-yet- subtle regression. As an example, contrast American science fiction over the last sixty years with, say, European or Japanese fiction. You'll find the latter two have ALWAYS been guardedly pessimistic, which is partly why Japanese science fiction didn't really resonate with American audiences until the children of the 80s discovered cynicism.

What has happened is that people, including if not especially sci-fi writers have become enamored with dystopias, and now when shown that it might not have to be that way, they become defensive. Techo-optimism may never be what it was in the 50s, but we've blown past that, to a point where we don't think it, we live and create it. When I see otherwise good movies like Looper that is basically a dystopia set in a traditional futuristic world, I don't see potential reality. I don't see good extrapolation.
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