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Sci-Fi Hardware

SF Authors Predict Computing's Future 258

Esther Schindler writes "'Over the past century a lot of science fiction has been published, showcasing a lot of wild ideas, and if you sit enough authors at enough typewriters or word processors, somebody is bound to get a few things right. Science fiction's greater influence, though, goes beyond whether or not the authors can make a good guess,' writes Kevin J. Anderson in Science Fiction's Take on the Future of Computers: Visionaries and Imaginaries. 'Rather than predicting the future, the SF genre is much better at inspiring the future. Visionaries read or see cool ideas in their favorite SF books or films, then decide how to make it a reality.' So Anderson assembled a set of visionaries, and asked them where they thought computing is headed: Mike Resnick, Robert J. Sawyer, Greg Bear, Michael A. Stackpole, Dr. Gregory Benford, and Christopher Paolini gaze into their crystal balls. 'Forget artificial intelligence. The future of computing is artificial consciousness, and it will be here within 20 years, and maybe much sooner than that,' says Sawyer. 'Our future wired world will have smart, wireless robots — gofers in hospitals, security guards with IR vision at night, lawn mowers, etc. We ourselves will be wired, with devices and embedded sensors taking in data and giving it out — a two way street,' contributes Benford."
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SF Authors Predict Computing's Future

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday October 17, 2011 @04:25PM (#37743612)

    Quality science fiction authors (not the pulp hacks), aren't TRYING to predict the future. They know better than anyone that's a pointless pursuit. Real science fiction writers, are merely using a genre setting to comment on the PRESENT, and perhaps on the human condition in general. Anyone who seriously thinks they can predict the future is a fucking retard. In the past, every time someone has tried they were laughably off. Even when someone does occasionally luck onto to getting some small thing right, like a specific piece of technology, they usually screw up its context and use in some fundamental way, or they make some assumption that turns out to be untrue (Arthur Clarke assuming that NASA would continue on with Apollo-level funding for example). No serious writer is arrogant enough to think their predictions are actually going to come true. They're literary devices, not prognostications.

  • The authors (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dyinobal ( 1427207 ) on Monday October 17, 2011 @04:29PM (#37743666)
    Ya I've never heard of most these authors but the article lost all credibility when they said 'Christopher Paolini' was on their list. He isn't a science fiction writer he writes fantasy and not even good fantasy at that. Why is he even there?
  • by decipher_saint ( 72686 ) on Monday October 17, 2011 @04:37PM (#37743756)

    Real Sci-Fi is about asking "what if", period.

  • Oblig. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xstonedogx ( 814876 ) <xstonedogx@gmail.com> on Monday October 17, 2011 @05:16PM (#37744144)
  • by Twinbee ( 767046 ) on Monday October 17, 2011 @05:23PM (#37744216) Homepage

    Okay, I'll give you a few predictions right now, and we'll see if I'm a nutter:

    1: We'll colonize and even explore space (because if we don't get off this rock, we're as good as dead).

    2: We'll have something much closer to true virtual reality devices and use them willingly (a bit obvious I suppose)

    3: Not everyone will go the cyborg route. In fact, only a few may, because of the 'ick' format that many people will detest. Star Trek agrees here (and no, Geordi La Forge doesn't count).

    4: At some point, we'll have sky cars. We'll need better batteries, and good AI for stability and non-crashability, but we'll get there (eventually, we'll even be able to drive them for fun (with the safety mechanisms kicking in if we make a wrong move).

    5: (Hot) fusion will become viable at some stage too (we could really do with the energy to feed our sky cars etc. with.)

    6: And the big one; fewer and fewer people will have traditional jobs, letting the robots/computers do the admin / manual work for them. Instead, we'll be exploring, learning, creating, having fun, or socializing (eventually mankind will realize that higher unemployment is a good thing, and not a bad)
    7: There will be a universal currency, universal language, and universal OS (don't worry, not necessarily Windows, MacOS, or Linux) at some point which most (>99%) can and will use. It'll take a while, and will probably happen after most people stop working, but at some point, we will all agree to get along (traveling to outer space, and to the stars may add some confusion to this point however).

    I can guarantee that at least six of those things will happen. Perhaps not all in our lifetime though.

  • Re:The authors (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday October 17, 2011 @05:28PM (#37744254)

    What *is* the difference?

    Are the monoliths from Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey witchcraft or science?

    witchcraft, obviously. No falsifiable predictions, just an uncontrollable god doing what it wants while the little people scurry around. No interesting interaction between new technology and society. About as scientific as a HP Lovecraft story or the LotR trilogy. A bunch of cool science themed special effects, and some science themed cinematography, that's about it.

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Monday October 17, 2011 @05:44PM (#37744384)

    Rubbish, if you expand your horizons wider than oracles of ticker tape or Back to the Future parlour tricks.

    There have been some pretty profound visionaries over the centuries. Jules Verne, da Vinci, Richard Feynman (There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom [wikipedia.org]), Claude Shannon, Freeman Dyson (space chickens), Charles Babbage, Leibniz, William Gibson (cyberspace), Marshall McLuhan (global village), Archimedes if you could get him to talk. These are not men immortalized for aping Minority Report.

    I shake my head at all these Margulis extropians, who think we're headed for post-sexual merger with mechanoid symbiotes, the under-skin super suit. Which would be cool if I had any clue what the 90% of world's population, the unemployed, will be doing with all that time.

    The future is a moving target. Set your sights accordingly, and recognize transcendent wisdom bereft of gadgets.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 17, 2011 @07:54PM (#37745410)

    In many ways, we're almost already there. What percentage of the world's nations and economies has a working understanding of English and access to some basically-interoperable computer networking system?

    Working knowledge of English? Nowhere near universal, even in first-world economies. Long before we get universal adoption of any single language we'll have machines that can recognize/voice every known language and translate to/from the user's language and we will have obviated the need for any one language to take over.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."