Science fiction collides with rapidly accelerated sci-tech breakthroughs that can and are pushing beyond what we thought possible in a short period of time. So how do we keep sci-fi several steps ahead? First off, make it weirder. Second, make it more intimate.
It’s always the characters that matter most. Meanwhile, I see issues with modern sci-fi as it’s a little too on the nose and of the day, making it strangely instantly dated compared to past work BECAUSE of rapid sci-tech advancement. We have to think WAY ahead and get weird.
I speak to this because working in tech and biotech the past few years had required me, quite literally as part of my jobs, to predict future trends in science, tech, and healthcare. (And yes, in addition to this, I do write science fiction.)
There is a track and a pattern to many things. To divert from it requires a switch in approach. Sometimes that’s not linear either.
Think of our current moment, in which artificial intelligence (AI) has assisted with the development of vaccines, and in which AI operates on the apps we type on, without our really thinking about it. With the Internet of Things (IoT), smart devices have become mainstream, even in our kitchens, or in our lightbulbs. All of this was considered pie-in-the sky science fiction tech not long ago. Now, we blink, and new developments and apps appear like mushrooms after autumn rain.
We should assume that AI will continue to transform other work, including writing and art. It already is. So even just from a workplace perspective, we need to be ready for our very sci-fi near future. We must be adapative in our careers. One of the biggest reasons I have several interests and fields of experience is that I watched my parents’ jobs either vanish or become self-limiting due to tech. I saw the writing on the wall and chose to be a diverse, adaptive worker. But it’s challenging.
Science fiction, meanwhile, cannot simply predict a few steps ahead. We can’t just imagine what’s possible. We need to imagine what is IMPOSSIBLE and how we cope with that scenario as whole people.