Saturday, January 21, 2012

Re-inventing the Future

What will tomorrow bring?

As we were talking in class about the 19th century it brought me back to my middle school years, when my favorite ride was 20000 leagues under the sea and traveling to the center of the earth was a spare time hobby. Imagine at the time there was a lot of growth in the sciences. Planets were being discovered, disease was being categorized and cured, atoms were being discovered and these artists tried to foresee what human innovation could accomplish. Art is an amazing thing because it takes us out of consumer culture and puts us into a position to interact with our surroundings. Science fiction has always been one of my favorite interactions because it helps us see where we want the world to go.

You have to wonder how much the fiction of today helps create the fact of tomorrow. From Jules Verne's novellas we find pieces of technology that we use today like the submarine and the airplane. He's not the only author to play with those concepts... from HG Wells (War of the Worlds) to Isaac Asmiov writers have been writing about the future. Sometimes the creations were crazy (robots that want to be human) but allowed us to revisit the ideas we read about in the renaissance of humanity and what it means to be human. Others show just how scared people can be with possibilities that are unknown, War of the worlds when broadcast scared many people into thinking that aliens were actually attacking the world. Writers and creators really play with the future, and in some cases help determine what will be in the future (or what definitely will not be). In the 1920's fashion designers thought about what we would be wearing in the future (albeit I bet most of the guys wish that ties had gone out of fashion)

Today we have other visionaries, people who are trying to foresee what the future will be like, for good or for ill. Cyperpunk novels today are writing about tattoos that tell you the weather and science fiction tells about space archeology expeditions in other planets. Or a society so attached to their crowd sourcing that they attach a feed to their own brains to never be detached from the network... or doctors that can help you determine everything that your child could have (blue eyes, brown hair, lack of chance of heart disease... etc) You consume the literature and for some, they actually create that reality through the technology that they produce.

As we interact more and more with the up and coming future I wonder how much out art today is going to have an effect on the technology of tomorrow. Will we see computer interfaces like the ones in "Minority Report"? Or perhaps we'll see a dream machine like the one in "Inception". What do you think? Is technology inspiring the creativity, or is the creativity inspiring the technology?

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