Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Microstory 962: Futurology

In the same way that people study history, there are those of us who study the future. Obviously this endeavor is a lot more difficult, and prone to tons of mistakes, because while history research is about gathering facts, it’s impossible to know for sure what is yet to happen. The more you understand about how we got here, and where we stand today, though, the more accurate the predictions you can make. I first stumbled into the field as recently as 2015. The Advancement of Leona Matic is about a woman who jumps forward one year every day, so her environment is constantly changing, especially nearer the beginning of her journey. In order to tell a realistic tale, I had to figure how technology would progress over time—usually by consulting FutureTimeline.net—which is a problem most speculative writers don’t have to worry about. Most of their stories are set in a single time period, so all they have to do is make their best guess about what life is like at that point. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that’s easy, but this does come with avoidable issues. For instance, in the first Star Trek series, people communicate using handheld devices, and pull a lever to operate the turbolift. Characters in the next show, which is set decades later, use pins attached to their uniforms, and voice activated turbolifts. Lemme tell ya, if we crack faster-than-light communication and travel, we won’t be using no cell phones and elevator controls. There’s no technological barrier happening. Stargate did the same thing when it suggested it would take millions of years to invent an artificial wormhole generator capable of reaching billions of lightyears in a matter of seconds that didn’t need to rotate. But this is all okay, because they’re just stories. Most futurologists are working at solving problems, not by simply predicting the future, but by driving it. I fell in love with the subject, because I’m obsessed with knowing what’s going to happen. I hate surprises, and I hate surprises. It’s really important that you understand how much I hate surprises, including “good” ones. A lot of people would claim they don’t want a surprise party, but secretly do. That’s not me, I legit hate being surprised ambushed. But this isn’t about me, it’s about the people who use their predictions to change the world. Humanity could survive if we never progressed past basic agriculture. We could have enough food, and naturally regulate our population, but who wants that? Every invention you use today, and all that came before it, was first thought of by someone who wasn’t happy with the status quo. We need futurists, or nothing would get better. I’m proud to be slightly less removed from future studies than most people, and will continue to expand my knowledge...in the name of advancement.

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