Tonight I’ve been doing some research into what the world might look like in 100 years time, and the vision I’m left with is both exciting and a little terrifying. Is it naive to hope for a future that ends up looking more like Star Trek than 1984?
Science fiction has become incredibly pessimistic. It seems that if we develop advanced technology, we abuse it. If we come across alien civilisations, it immediately results in war and enslavement. We create artificial intelligence and it tries to destroy us. Freedoms will erode, nature will be destroyed beyond repair and governments will sink into ever deeper pits of corruption. There’s so little hope or optimism in our visions of the future.
And it isn’t surprising. Humanity is clever and we are developing technology at an astonishing rate. A future in which every aspect of your life is networked, where you are connected 24/7 via an interface that can be incorporated into your body, where every moment of your social and physical life can potentially be monitored and indexed, is not only possible but plausible.
But humanity has issues with morality. Issues which are far from being solved. It’s part of the fabric of our society, part of our history, part of our present. We’re all aware that people can do terrible things. Especially when group mentality overrides the morals of the individual. Especially when governments and institutions are given significant power without accountability. So what happens when our technology advances enough to allow for the constant surveillance of the populace? Can we handle it without completely destroying the principles of personal freedom and responsibility? If our popular fiction is any indication, most of us strongly doubt it.
I’m no different. I’m writing a science-fiction story about invasive tech and a pervasively networked society called Not Compatible. It is not shaping up to be an optimistic version of the future.
But surely there can be. Surely there’s still room for a little faith in the inherent goodness of humanity, utopia over dystopia. Maybe it’s time for a renaissance in optimistic sci-fi. We can’t all be cynics, can we?