Friday, April 15, 2011

But I don't find my microwave all that attractive

On April 12, there was a guest on the Colbert Report, Ray Kurzweil, talking about how people will be merging with machines in the future. (According to Kurzweil, we will merge by 2045, to be more specific.) As he pointed out, this kind of technology is already being used on people with neurological damage, so that nervous impulses can be used to direct digital equipment. Kurzweil also talked about how we'll have nanobots roaming through our bodies, keeping us healthy.

As with every technological advance, I can see both the wonder and the horror. The upside is obvious--new weapons in the struggle against diseases and injuries that alter our nervous system, our immune system, etc. Ways to enhance our memory, and perhaps keep from losing it.

But as to the downside--well, I've always said that I will never have to write a dystopian or futuristic novel, because M. T. Anderson already perfectly articulated my expectations in a novel called Feed. In Anderson's world, computers have been implanted in people's heads, but their primary use is to sell stuff to their hosts. Also, while the main characters have these fancy computer implants, and flying cars of a sort, there are hints that not everyone in the world lives this way. Somewhere, others are living darker, poorer, strife-torn lives, far from the glamor of shopping-on-demand and casual jaunts to the moon.

I can't help thinking that when Kurzweil says we'll have nanobots in our bloodstream, he means that some of us will have nanobots. I can't imagine everyone having nanobots in a world where not everyone can even afford basic medicines--where not everyone can even afford basic food. Nanobots sound expensive!

One thing that books do is express our hopes and fears about the future--usually based on our hopes and fears about the present. What futuristic or dystopian novel best lines up with your vision of the future, or with your most extreme hopes and fears? Or are you writing something like that now?

source of recommended read: library

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