An extremely pervasive flaw in sci-fi worldbuilding: adding advanced technology, but not accounting for how it would change society. In fact nearly every popular sci-fi universe does this to some extent. Let's look at Star Wars for an example.

The Star Wars movies show us many advanced technologies, such as interplanetary travel, ships that can engage in cool-looking space battles, robots that are apparently people, human cloning, and of course, the iconic lightsaber. But how has their way of life changed? It hasn't. There are still farmers, childbirth pains haven't been solved, wars are still fought with infantry, and in general, they seem to have less automation than we do now.

Here are some things that could probably be done given the other technologies we see: reviving the dead (they have human cloning); genetic enhancement (extra strength could be a game changer in the lightsaber duels); brain implants that give everyone portable access to the internet and some sort of built-in AI assistant like modern phones have only much better; brain implants that allow people to turn off their perception of pain whenever they want (we already have painkillers in real life), and... for that matter, why not just live in virtual reality?

That last one, while a lot of people might argue against it, should at least be a social issue. People could build something like the Matrix, use non-personal droids to maintain it (like the medical droids we see all over the Clone Wars), and going into it could be entirely voluntary and non-committal. No idea of a similar nature is ever discussed.

This is actually such a big obstacle that despite coming up with literal dozens of story ideas I liked, it took me years to come up with my first semi-working sci-fi story. In that one, I decided that the human soul's "death detector" is a lot touchier than it is in real life, and so any sort of tampering with someone's brain causes their soul to leave their body (death) permanently. This solves the problems of elimination of pain and genetic enhancement. As for computers implanted in people's brains, well, they can't actually be implanted for that reason, but people do have little wrist-mounted devices called companions that can do anything a modern computer can do and more. They use them to process payments, autorecord what's happening to them so they have proof if they get assaulted or something (which happens in the story), and, to counter this, it's become standard criminal practice every time you assault or mug someone or anything to take their companion and delete the recording.

It's a very kludgy solution, though.

I think there are good ways to do this by embracing the implications of advanced technology and exploring the conflicts that would still arise, but they're anything but obvious.

This page was last modified 2020 May 08, Friday, 00:56 (UTC)