Futureproofing : avoiding Future Shock

One of the problems comprising ” information overload” is the stress load of coping with change.  I seem to be much more playful with technological change, less stressed by it, than many younger adults – and I know why.

To me, it isn’t change.  It’s just revisiting a world I met in a book.  Or New Scientist.  (There’s a BSc’s worth  in every three years’ reading in that mag.)

Population pressure?  Larry Niven has examined this.  Try “Ringworld” (Sphere, 1972):  in thebackground,  population pressures and proven corruption lead to the “Birthright Laws”:  one child per adult, with rights gained by donation, arena combat (if you haven’t yet used yours),  purchase,  notable achievement, or an annual lottery of all the “places” not filled by other means that year.   All that to justify Niven’s examination of the results of “breeding for luck”.

Advanced robotics?  Before I was born,  Isaac Asimov had started writing about independent robots (what later writers called “volitionals”) and considered the problems of controlling and analysing the actions of extremely complex self-directing machines.   Robert Heinlein considered the distinction between volitional and controlled, and invented the “Waldo”: a radio-linked device for a human to control from a distance, reflecting ver action on equal, micro, or enlarged scale.  A related form is the “remote”, not reflecting the bodily action but with all actions initiated by the controller.

Satellite communication and control?  Arthur C.  Clarke, 1945, says Collective Intelligence.

Internet capable mobile phones?  Asimov, again, years before the first “mobile” suitcase phone was built.

Cloning?   More a case of who didn’t.

Wetware?  More recent – William Gibson.  (Oh, haven’t you heard?  Brain-implanted  chips,  able to be programmed with knowledge/skills/links to mechanical prosthetics).  In a sense he was preceded by Anne McCaffry’s “Ship who Sang” (1969), where profoundly deformed infants are put in life-support “shells”, with electronic links from their brains to a wide range of electical links, allowing them to run complex mechanical bodies amd speech devices – including having an  interstellar spaceship as a body.

I read them because they were not like my life.  (Drugs are for those who can’t role play or read S.F.)  Now I see them, and have no “shock of the new”.

Alvin Toffler, I win!

I’ve finished the latest New Scientist.  Now, what’s at the bookshop in the way of new  “hard science” S.F.?


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