Science fiction has long been known for the many authors who predicted the future in one sense or another, often related to technological advancements or industrial achievements. What many don’t know, though, is that predicting the future isn’t just for the realm of fiction, but is a core principle of a scientific discipline called Futures Studies.
According to the Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment, Futures Studies are “the scientific study of possible, desirable, and probable future developments” as well as the ability to design the possible future toward a more desirable one.
Futures studies uses several important methods for studying the possible futures which are key to writing science fiction, and as such it is important to understand what the field is and how futurists use it.
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In order to better reflect my goals as a writer, I need to make a change to the format of this blog. Originally I envisioned this blog as looking into how technology and science will affect the future, but the more I brainstormed how these two interacted with the rest of society, the more I realized that covering just this one facet of our growth would fail to reflect how the future is formed. To truly cover how our future is being formed today, I will expand my blog to cover all aspects of society and how they all interact.
Thank you to all of my current followers, please leave any suggestions here or present any ideas you have!
In short, the circumstances of our fragile, peculiar time favor grand interventions from engineers. These interventions are consistent with the worthy and ambitious initiatives proposed by the National Academy of Engineering. But while most “prizes” and “challenges” encourage the pursuit of well-defined breakthroughs, “saving the planet” will require assembling many well-defined breakthroughs into technological systems that deliver durable solutions to urgent problems.
– G. Pascal Zachary in “Why Engineers Must try to Save the World”
This is probably the best description I have ever read about applying science to the real world. You can read the article here, where he explores why the “doers” have to save the world when the “thinkers” can’t: “Why Engineers Must try to Save the World”
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When capturing the human spirit in literature, always remember the struggle we face as a species to explore the unknown and the importance of the past in showing what is truly at stake if we fail. To allow ourselves to stop in this pursuit is to allow our spirit to die and deny the millions of pioneers who paved the road with only one goal: discovering that which we do not know.
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“The best way to predict the future is to invent it” – Alan Kay
Creating a believable future relies on having a clear view of the present and the past. Often, the best science fiction worlds base themselves on the past, and they capture the essence of human progress and spirit better than any other because they see what has driven us in the past and what drives us on today.
Many future worlds, however, only look at the present and popular for reference and are so limited in scope that they are outdated after only a decade or two. The reader often feels detached from these worlds even if the characters are deep and the story rich.
Creating the future requires more than just researching the latest technology or scientific advances. The world doesn’t move in just one direction and if you fail to capture this it will seem that your world and the real world are moving in entirely different directions.
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Many science fiction stories feature humans with genetically enhanced intelligence, perhaps due to modifying our genes or unlocking the unused portions of our brains. But recent research has shown that intelligence is much more affected by experience than genes, and the “10% use of our brains” argument is merely a myth.
So, if genes only matter for little and we are already using our whole brain, how else can we modify intelligence?
The answer is myelin.
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