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If I predict that in 2027 LTE cellular phones will be everywhere, 5G will be available for high bandwidth applications, and fallback to satellite data service will be available at a price, you won't laugh at me.
It's not like I'm predicting that airliners will fly slower and Nazis will take over the United States, is it?
The same can be said of my field of work, written science fiction.
Scifi is seldom about science—and even more rarely about predicting the future.
Science fiction is written by people embedded within a society with expectations and political assumptions that bias us towards looking at the shiny surface of new technologies rather than asking how human beings will use them, and to taking narratives of progress at face value rather than asking what hidden agenda they serve.
In this talk, author Charles Stross will give a rambling, discursive, and angry tour of what went wrong with the 21st century, why we didn't see it coming, where we can expect it to go next, and a few suggestions for what to do about it if we don't like it. I'm Charlie Stross, and it's my job to tell lies for money.
When I write a near-future work of fiction, one set, say, a decade hence, there used to be a recipe that worked eerily well.As my fellow SF author Ken Mac Leod likes to say, the secret weapon of science fiction is history.History, loosely speaking, is the written record of what and how people did things in past times—times that have slipped out of our personal memories.What we're getting, instead, is self-optimizing tools that defy human comprehension but are not, in fact, any more like our kind of intelligence than a Boeing 737 is like a seagull.So I'm going to wash my hands of the singularity as an explanatory model without further ado—I'm one of those vehement atheists too—and try and come up with a better model for what's happening to us.