Science Fiction Threats

img_3029It is hard to remember seeing my first science fiction show. It could have been Star Trek from the 60s. Regardless, I really enjoyed watching all the possible aspects of the future being brought to TV. The amount of imagination involved has been impressive. An average person would be hard pressed to come up with a decent sci-fi story.

There is a long history of writers who create fictional worlds. Since words are easier to create than worlds, just anything can be achieved. Reading transforms the reader’s mind into some distant time and place. If the author is good, it can feel real.

Having watched these kinds of shows and movies for decades, certain patterns emerge.

First, unlike reality, the science fiction story can create any problem or solution on a whim.  Certain ideas might never happen, but that does not matter. It is more about expressing an idea in the hopes that others might build it. The classic examples are HG Wells and Jules Verne. Many inventions were derived from the ideas of these authors.

Here is a partial list:

  • Submarine (Jules Verne)
  • Helicopter (Jules Verne)
  • Rocket (H.G. Wells)
  • Atomic Power (H.G. Wells)
  • Space Travel (Jules Verne)

It could be argued that some of these ideas were created earlier and only becoming famous by the author that finally got the credit. Also important to point out that the inventors had the harder role. Making dreams things into a real things is always difficult.

In a way, science fiction prepares us for what might be coming. People are not quick to adapt to radical new ideas.

Another reason why science fiction is so popular is that is expressed as a place where anything is possible. Anything can be explored. Very few topics are off limits.

One conclusion reached after matching science fiction with reality is this: regardless of the scientific advances and inventions, we still have most of the original problems. We have guaranteed our basic existence. However, we have not figured out that some of the problems are more of a reflection of ourselves. Another point of view is that if we solve certain problems, new problems appear. It is some kind of chain reaction that we could not have easily predicted.

And, there is an even more basic human need to be challenged. If we are not challenged, we get bored and tend to create trouble. Like a impatient child, we feel the need to do something regardless of the implications. It is hard to accept sometimes that doing nothing is an option. Or, we hate the silence. We cannot stand being still. The thoughts of clarity find it difficult to get through all the noise.

In a way, science fiction is a distraction. It is a fantasy. It is a reach out to a more interesting place and time. It hides our reality and substitutes a rose coloured future. Having watched science fiction for so long, it is clear that things are not going to get better solely from the use of more advanced technology.

It can be argued that science fiction has actually helped to escalate the tensions in the world. The ideas we have implemented make it possible to exploit the world and its population at the touch of a finger. Our reach goes so far now. We can either watch or participate with other groups instantly. It is easy to forget that this did not exist 20 years ago. In a way, the technology is bringing out our worst sides and make it easy to share more stories as truth.

The world is in a rush. It wants to know what happens next. It wants to know so much. The wisdom of the situation is that we only respect knowledge. The other side is based on not knowing. The wisdom of the ages knows the futility of defining everything.

Wisdom means being peaceful. Wisdom is stopping the need to know everything there is. Wisdom is being aware.

The core of technology seeks to supplement what we naturally have. Often, this is based on perceiving a need or weakness. Unknown to most inventors, building the ideas does not mean that we removed the need or weakness. It is still there, just hidden behind the application of technology. I need food and shelter. Farming crops and building a house solves the need. However, the need is still there. If there is a drought or fire, I could lose both house and crops. Buffering layers of technology helps to keep us safe, but ultimately, we tend to make ourselves more dependent and vulnerable.

People at the top of the pyramid enjoy the privileges but are also vulnerable to any flaws between them and the base. People happy with the basics of life are left more happy and safe regardless of what happens to the world. They have little to lose.

Science fiction explores the current era projected into the future with further technology. The pyramids are higher there, and much more prone to collapse. The ultimate realisation is that the gap between civilisation and nature becomes so large that eventually aspects of the gap triggers a catastrophe.

Essentially, science fiction cannot be based on nirvana/heaven. There is something in human nature (and in nature) that needs for everything to exist. Beyond this, there is a need for balance between one side and another. Pushing things either way results in a push back.

The main point I wanted to make was that science fiction is more about the age it was written. For a number of reasons, it is safer to write science fiction than to write about the current world. The indirection presents the idea without it becoming a threat. Ironically, science fiction becomes a threat if applied by groups that seek to extend control.

Having said all this, I have been living the science fiction life. I have benefited from the world obsession with the next big thing. My Dad was big into technology with electronics and I continued this pattern with computers. It has taken a long time to realise (my) truth about the trends.

Science fiction is more about entertainment for me now. I used to see it as a map to the future. Lately it is more revealing about when it was made. We have a lot of baggage. It is hard to hide all the the existing luggage even in the projected future.

Which brings me to 42. Such a clever writer, Douglas Adams. He found humour in most things. Gone too soon. I love his references to SEP. It is so human. We do it all the time. It can blind us and we are happy to blame or ignore and keep what we know. The funny thing is the question about everything. We are bold enough to ask it. In his story, Deep Thought gives it a go. After a very long time, it declares that the answer is 42. There are several thoughts about this answer. First, obviously it meant nothing to the people that asked. Second, Deep Thought could not explain what it meant unless it spent a lot more time coming up with a new question to match. Obviously, entertaining. But, the serious side shows that this answer is good as any other. How can there be one answer to purpose for all of the universe?  What did people really expect to hear anyhow? It makes fun of one of our most basic questions and yet also reveals that there is no one answer. If there was an answer, it would probably be nothing. Why have the question in the first place? Does there have to be a higher purpose to live? Isn’t it possible for us to create our own?

In a way, technology is trying to give us what we already have. Or, it is trying to replace some aspect of our lives that we are willing to let go. Progress is the word. Strangely progress is never quite the same as what it was perceived to be. The progress of time reveals that we are deeply the same but with different dependencies. If we were willing to understand where we are and what we want, it could reveal some surprising answers. It is hard to look inward. The technology is meant to buffer such reflections.


Part of the truth is that we really do not need much. Our constant striving to improve comes at the cost of understanding. Things move in cycles. There is no avoiding the ride. Better to just enjoy it for what it is.





Live near Brisbane, Australia. Software developer currently focused on iOS and Android. Avid Google Local Guide

Posted in Science Fiction
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