"Living in the Future"

I grew up on a steady diet of science fiction... Star Wars, just like most guys my age, was a revelation. It led me into Heinlen, Asimov, Ellison, all the greats. It probably had a lot to do with my interest in comics and the general shape of my worldview, and it definitely widened my horizons and made me willing to accept fantasy and wild reality as easily as the more mundane life I see before me every day.

From reading various news articles, we seem to be on the cusp of a big technological/societal shift. Artificial intelligence is getting smarter, the human genome mapping project has been completed, an article I read in Maxim indicates that a couple in England is planning to try to link themselves together via technological telepathy and recent research that broke the speed of light seems to indicate that Einstein's Theory of Relativity was just that... a theory. And a wrong one.

The implications are pretty stunning. I always assumed faster-than-light travel, like extraterrestrial life, was a given, and that we'd see it eventually. But I honestly never expected to see it in my lifetime. However, if scientists think they've broken that barrier, it's only a matter of time. I've seen the progress of technology. A discovery that's experimental and rare one day tends to move to the forefront of society and be commonplace with no more than a couple decades, these days. Witness the prominence now of VCRs, DVD, CD, computers, the Internet...

I've been complaining for a while that we were supposed to all have portable flying cars by now... maybe the technological wonder-world I grew up reading about isn't as impossible as I thought it was after all. On the other hand, that could also mean that the dark dystopias and cyberpunk sprawls I grew up reading about could be coming true as well. I'll be honest, the thought of the human genome being completely mapped and cloning being possible on animals and theoretically human makes me nervous. As a race, humanity has proven itself capable of great abuses of science, and there's a lot that can go wrong with human cloning, faster-than-light travel or cybernetics.

Look, I'm absolutely the wrong person to start doing a lot of heavy thinking about all this... I got a D in Biology in high school, and barely passed my science courses in middle school. Everything I know about technology I learned from science fiction novels, role-playing games and comics, so it's all pretty dicey. But all I know is that when I hear about this, I get a sense of nervousness and excitement about the future.

Which, admittedly, is better than the sense that everything's going to stay pretty much the same. I mean, how boring would that be?

Randy W. Lander

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