1. but it shouldn’t be surprising when the train of humanity continues to ride on familiar tracks.
    I’ve noticed new technology arrives first in our toys and sports.

  2. Travis Perry says:

    Mark, I’ve been working on preparing a set of old science fiction short stories in the public domain for publication in a lightly re-edited form. These stories (by sci-fi author Stanley Weinbaum) look at life in outer space with a very imaginative eye. They also imagine atomic power will become widely used and will provide the power plants that move vessels into outer space. This technology still remains futuristic for us today.

    But when reading the old stories, the relationships between men and women are quite different from modern tales. The assumption that colonialism is normal and essentially good (space colonialism, but still) is quite different from a modern perspective. The language is much cleaner, the joking around a bit goofier, and there’s no hint at all that nearly full-time entertainment was going to take over the world, though there are references to “vision” as in “television” and movies–these are seen as occasional diversions instead of continual indulgences.

    Our technology hasn’t really reached much of what past science fiction predicted, but our culture has changed tremendously. The Sexual Revolution, the rise in Feminism, ubiquitous entertainment in part via the Internet, Gay rights, the rise of transgender concepts are all new things in the way we have them, to the degree we have them. Not to mention the way we use language is different–I don’t just mean we use more profanity and a pile of new slang. Sentences are also shorter. Presentations are shorter. The entire culture seems to have a shorter attention span.

    We are living in the future now, a type of one, as you noted. A type of dystopia if you ask me–but yes, numerous ordinary things of past continue on…which obscures the fact of how much has changed. Culturally, we are radically different from how the past used to be.

    • It’s interesting to think of how the ebb and flow of society will impact that, though. Like, two thousand years from now, if our kind was in space, the culture will probably be very different. It’d be difficult to say whether it would be more liberal or conservative, but the reasons and attitudes behind that future cultural viewpoint might be very surprising to us. Many social norms might form for practical reasons, rather than moral ones, for example. And it would probably go through many different variations and cycles to reach that point.

      • Travis Perry says:

        Yeah, I think some people treat what our modern culture has become as an inevitable consequence of “progress” whether that me moral, social, or technological. But the kind of changes we’ve experienced I don’t think were inevitable. And it is certainly true the future could in many ways return to the past, culturally speaking.

  3. One thing about the future is that things are simultaneously getting better and worse most of the time. Like, AI and other parts of technology might make our lives easier or better in some cases. Algorithms that pull up customized recommendations for users, for example, have helped me find lots of new songs, artists and animators. But then more and more of such algorithms are being built in ways that can compromise people’s privacy.

    And of course technology is helping people become more and more interconnected. That’s good in the sense that we can make friends we would not have otherwise made, or keep in contact with friends we would have never spoken to again because they moved away. But it also gives people more opportunities to treat each other like trash. Everyone has cruddy opinions, but of course an online forum makes it easier for people to use those opinions to tear each other apart. This controversy seems like an interesting example:


    Sometimes it seems like the internet emphasizes the worst in humanity. It’s fine that people are opinionated, or get mad, or whatever. And it’s human nature to misunderstand things or act like anything that (seems) to contradict one’s opinion is an emergency. But how our society ends up in the future will probably depend partly on how well/fairly people learn to manage their behavior in that respect.

    • notleia says:

      The thing is, despite our increasing interconnectedness, we’re also more isolated, because we treat technology as a crutch for problems that industrialized culture introduced (not to mention conspicuous consumption). The suburbs and ex-urbs leave us physically stranded from one another and from amenities, and take too many resources to build and sustain.
      Loneliness is still a big problem — even a bigger problem than it was in the past. I also have an essay about work culture and labor reforms that also ties into this, but I’ll spare you guys unless asked.

      • To an extent, especially depending on how one uses the technology. A lot of human goals don’t always go together, though. Like, we want to save money and the planet by driving less(which is greatly aided by technology) but then we also want to say tech is isolating and that online friends aren’t real enough.

        One thing Joanna Penn discusses in her self publishing podcasts are the changes that AI will bring. She says authors will probably have to double down on being human. Like, the way to compete with AI and other advancing technologies is to offer experiences the tech can’t. Personality, life story, custom made items, in person meetups…the list goes on. Things like that might become more popular as we try to adjust to the internet’s prevalence.

        As for loneliness, I have a weird relationship with that. It takes more than a lack of human presence to make me lonely, and I can easily go for ages without talking directly to anyone. But I DO get bored, because I do like people and find them interesting. Yet it’s kind of a curse in a way since the only times I feel truly lonely is when I’m at odds with others or have a reason to worry about eventual conflict. Quite frankly I’ve gotten used to feeling lonely on and off my whole life, so even if it isn’t a pleasant feeling, it’s sorta whatever.

        What I’ve had to learn, and what would probably be healthiest for people, is if they learned to be happy both by themselves and with others. Like, yes, by all means, try to have friends, look out for them and enjoy socializing. But one shouldn’t have all or even most of their happiness invested in others. People WILL let each other down, intentionally or not. Or, they may simply be unavailable or unable to meet each others needs. So it’s important to have lots of little patches of happiness that aren’t dependent on other humans.

        That said, the internet would probably be less isolating if people were less nasty to each other.

What do you think?