December 2nd 2017
Copyrights to the Future
I’m starting to think Sky-Net might be real. Every day new technologies emerge, and people still crave the future. At the same time the news tells us the world is going to end on a daily basis. It almost seems future literature has trouble breaking from the apocalypse / creation timeline demonstrated by Genesis and Revelations, which focuses on futures, or pasts, within a few thousand years of today’s world. Was I the only person in class that absolutely loved Wells’s vision of the deep, deep, future of Earth inhabited by giant crab like creatures? No humans fighting or crumbling societies ruined by people’s misuse of technology. I was excited to read stories about future technologies, utopias, and even the possibility of alien contact. Sadly, the high-tech societies found in future stories often closely resembled our own, and not the good parts. The high-tech societies imagined often lead to a strong digression in society including the loss of uniqueness and ideas of suicide. This paper will show how high-tech societies in the future often lead to a dystopian society, despite people’s want for a technologically advanced future.
The future is a product of a technological past. Gibson’s demonstration of an alternative future and virtual allusions in “The Gernsback Continuum” are extremely impressive for ideas in 1986. The story mixes an assortment of past society and future ideals including allusions to one of the first future visions on film, Metropolis, and apocalyptic terms such as the Nazi movement, and Nuclear Explosions, all combined with futuristic ideas including, buying aliens, ray guns, and “Art Deco futuroids” (Course Web 59). Especially enjoyable is the scene where the main character grabs a newspaper and “submerged myself in hard evidence of the human near-dystopia we live in. “But it could be worse, huh?” (Web 67). The imagery seems remarkably similar to today’s society; faces everywhere buried deep in their smart phones waiting for new information or news. Despite people in the society possessing future technologies they still seem stuck in the past, and focus on the apocalyptic narrative resembled in Revelations. A society filled with advanced technologies, and still, “What the public wanted was the future” (Web 12).
The public wants the future according to Gibson, and they will get it. Have you ever seen a video game that looks like it’s using real people? Soon we might have the ability to mentally enter those virtual worlds. Almost half of the model assignments including Abel Hernandez and Taylor Fraze refer to the story, The Onion and I by Thomas Fox Averill. The story outlines the advantages and disadvantages between a high-tech and low-tech future. Taylor outlines the high-tech characteristics of the story including a virtual marriage, and there relation to other future scenarios likes The Matrix. Alex explains how the story demonstrates the virtual world as non-comparable to the natural world. It does seem strange to think a computer could properly capture the taste of fresh honey, or the smell of a rose. This aligns well with the public’s wanting of the future in “The Gernsback Continuum”. Use the technology present to today’s society to create a future people desire. While some people may find the natural world more enjoyable including the father in Onion, whom can’t break from the onion he considers real. (Averill 14), Those without real world experience can create a virtual utopia for themselves. What makes a virtual world virtual if it’s the only world you’ve ever known? These aspects of a high-tech society are appealing to society by providing a short-term technological answer to utopia.
Future visions that show a digression from today’s world due to technology are also evident in our readings. The story Drapes and Folds by Audrey Ferber, pictures a high-tech society that strip people of their unique traits. The character Diana has a “sweep” (Ferber 130) performed on her that wipes many of her memories away. Diana claims it makes her feel better, but it clearly robs her of many unique characteristics. The narrator Pearl, Diana’s best friend, almost commits suicide due to her loss of personality. In another of Gibson’s stories titled Hinterlands, an alternative and high-tech future is mixed with ideas of Revelations and current society. Among a universal highway is an artificial heaven created by “Disney engineers” (Gibson, Web 4.6). This story was written in 1981, and still today Disney reigns supreme in the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, in Gibson’s story many people commit suicide in a desperate attempt to reach the artificial heaven. Even in Heaven the narrator remarks how it was “A bad day in Heaven, but it’s never easy” (Gibson, Web 8.2). Both stories contain aspects of science fiction leading to digression, one society is robbed of meaning through technology, and the other becomes so overly designed and artificial it grows sharp, cold, and hard. It is hard to see high-tech societies appealing in either story when both stories contain ideas of suicide and lead to dystopias.
If the future is a machine I would prefer to stay unplugged. The future scenarios in the stories by Gibson, Averill, and Ferber show technology used to create a utopia, but instead creating a dystopia. Technology pushes characters to the brink of suicide and a borderline pointless existence. If we are living in The Matrix I hope to never find out. It takes real experiences to make life meaningful. There is no better feeling for me than hitting swishing a three-point shot, biking down a hill, or jumping in a lake You can't get those feelings from staring at a screen.