What Does Your Future Look Like?
Being in Dr. White’s class I have come up with an understanding that there are two main types of scenarios for the future, high tech and ecotopia. Both scenarios share a common theme of moving forward to the future. In high tech, technology is used a lot in helping us create a better world for the future. However, as many fear too much technology could be our down fall. Which is why we have our second scenario ecotopia where using what we have from earth creates a healthier future. I agree with this vision because we are guests in this world. We did not create it; we have created different industrial and technology that is destroying the Earth. However, Earth was here way before we were known to walk on it. Yes, man is creating amazing machines to help better our world, but yet once we abuse of it the only thing we have left is earth.
The vision of a high tech future is best explain and shown in William Gibson’s Burning Chrome. Set in a virtual world Bobby Quine and Jack are on a virtual journey to burn Chrome, a criminal who is laundering money. Because it is based in a virtual world, Gibson uses metaphors to help the reader envision this high tech world, “A silver tide of phosphenes boiled across my field of vision as the matrix began to unfold in my head, a 3-D chessboard, infinite and perfectly transparent” (3). Since Chrome, is a women living in this virtual world the only way to murder her is clearing out her accounts, creating this whole scenario very high tech. However embedded in the story we still get a taste of actual reality, Jack talking about how Quine ignores Rikki a real female woman. The fact that these hackers are able to travel through virtual reality is high tech and totally foreseen till the far future.
Another example of high tech is William Gibson’s second story, Johnny Mnemonic. Johnny is a man who got his childhood memories erased in order to store important information in his head that the Yakuza wants. “I had hundreds of megabytes stashed in my head on an idiot / savant* basis, information I had no conscious access to” (1.5). However implementing megabytes on humans is not the only thing that this future does. Their technology is so high tech that they even 2"augmented" a dolphin. Our protagonist, not wanting to fall into poverty, decides to live in this high tech world basically as a walking computer with memory cards in chipped.
These two stories show the scenario of how a high tech future can be like. Next, ecotopia is another vision of the future. The concept of an ecotopian future is best seen in Ernest Callenbach Chocco. Chocco tells the story of the River People, simple people living of what earth provides for them. Later on the reader learns that before the ‘Machine People’ co-existed with them, however they nearly destroyed the planet. We realize in the Socratic discussion that Mikal and Jon have in seeing who will be the next memory keeper. The discussion highlights all the negative of high tech that man depended on. For example, “they were rich in possessions,” said Mikal, “we know that many of their machines ran by the burning of fuel. They tried another form of fuel Hot Rods. This fuel caused explosions that polluted wide areas and caused much disease and also deformity in children” (196). Here we get a glimpse of all the bad that the ‘Machine People’ brought to the world.
It is normal to see in an ecotopian scenario people working together almost entirely without technology. We saw this in Chocco, how even though the ‘Machine People’ left a tainted world, they still survived. Now in House of Bones by Robert Silverberg our narrator comes from a high tech futuristic world, he time travels to a prehistoric era where he encounters primitive men and women. The narrator is forced to forget all that he learned about, “electronics, computers, and time-shift physics” (89). Even though he had to adjust and shape his point of view, our narrator realizes the beauty of a world without technology, “They’re highly skilled individuals” (88). House of Bones becomes an ecotopian world where everyone works together without technology and prospers.
To conclude both are valid scenarios that many people believe will happen. One can only wonder what the future truly awaits for us. Kevin Kaup writes, “Although depressing at first, once you realize the admission of the death of our way of life, as well as our actual lives, "Chocco" really represents the most optimistic and balanced scenario of our future, incorporating limited but necessary technology into a predominantly agrarian society.” Kevin explains my point perfectly, a society run by the help of our mother land. In the future we may have all of this technology aiding us, but are we happy?
Even though in Burning Chrome, when one reads the story they are transported into this amazing virtual world, however human characteristics are still evident. Internally Jack says about Rikki, “even though I felt like screaming it at him she was right there, alive, totally real, human” (62). We can be living in a world that provides everything for us, but actual reality will always dominate. A high tech world will only separate us from what truly is real. We will probably adapt like Johnny, but then we lose our human characteristics. This is a decline for humanity and the future.
Is this truly the future that you want? Therefore Chocco is the perfect example of a high tech world gone wrong. Chocco shows the progress that our future can be saved and flourish. This short story shows the audience that life is beautiful without so much technology bombarding your life, taking you away from what is real.