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  1. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    Near Future Setting/Technology

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by TyrannusRex, May 15, 2017.

    I'll be writing a short story set in the year 2041. I need an idea of what technological advancements we could realistically make happen from now until then, specifically in areas of everyday life. Like, what might we develop to make everyday life easier? What might the kids or teens of that era fool around with? How might automobiles, housing, energy, etc. change?
     
  2. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    24 years really isn't that long. to put it in perspective, 24 years ago we were watching Jurassic Park at the cinema, playing Mario on home video consoles, and playing with Power Rangers action figures, so the world hasn't moved on that much in many respects. If you're optimistic, wind and solar power might be more prevalent, along with electric cars. More jobs will be done from home. We'll all be more connected, yet more isolated.
     
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  3. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    So, here's the thing about near futures...you can take them a LOT of different ways. There's no "real" near future, because no one has a time machine. There might be LIMITS on how far you can go (cue debate on body implants, holographics, etc. ad nauseam.) - but really it's all about what YOU want to talk about.

    For instance, a lot of CyberPunk near futures deal real explicitly with things like implantable body tech and the increasing merge between human and machine - those realities look really techy and punky. Other people play a lot with coping with climate change (although with a 25 year time increment you'd be looking at reasonably slight shifts) - those realities might be closer to ours but defined by scarcity an unpredictabilty - or some deal with population density and increasing waste product - those look like our reality but more crowded, people have health problems, etc.

    I write a future based in 2034 and my main themes are cultural/tech stagnation and the influence of media on culture - so in my case I'm have a reality that's VERY close to ours (I still have cell phones, texting, desktop computers, email, etc.). I'm nibbling around the edges of tech development without really changing anything (lots of wearable tech like smartwatches, cell phones either bend and bounce or are wafer thin, people use their thumbprint to ride the subway) but also extrapolating expensive internet data that causes retrograde development (streaming is dead and everyone downloads all their TV and movies from Redbox style kiosks). I've laid in a background of economic stagnation (high prices, falling dollar value, even bigger student loan debts, a national debt bubble about to burst) - and because it's a broadcast media drama I've put a LOT more effort into building pop culture than building tech - I have three different youth subcultures, with the dominant rick-kid one being 1950s retro girl-group influenced, plus an anti-retro "GlowWorm" counterculture and a hip-hop scene that increasingly reflects frustration with the growing sense of inequality (lots of focus on the idea of violent revolution).

    So, above you have at four different worlds, all at about the same point, extrapolated from four different focusses (CyberPunk, CliFi, Overpopulation Dystopia, Economic/Pop Culture Futurism).

    The key is to figure out what ideas you want to run with, and then figure out what parts of society you need to tinker with to make that happen. Once you have that grounding, you can start building the rest of the world around it.
     
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  4. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    The general setting I'd imagine for my world isn't too different from the one we have now, except people have made/are making more of an effort to clean the place up. Energy is getting cleaner, almost everything is recycled, and (on a side note) there are new communication and entertainment technologies; the people in the world are kind of surprised at what's been accomplished since the 20-teens, and are hopeful for the future, but other than that, I haven't really developed it much. I didn't really figure that most basic tech would change that much, since, well, just look at all the "in the future, I bet" memes.
     
  5. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay - so you're going optimistic and semi-utopian. I like that because we have too much dystopia and not enough optimism in futuristic literature right now. What's the story about? Do you have characters and plot? I'd make tweaks to reality based on where your plot action is - for instance, my reality takes place in broadcast news and one of my characters is a music blogger - this means I spend a lot of my time on figuring out communications and pop culture - not so much on things like diet or waste disposal. For instance, there could have been a revolution in recycling between now and 2034 - I wouldn't know, and my characters wouldn't care. That said, minor changes that wouldn't be half as big of a deal to society are HUGE to my plot because my characters are so deep into the TV industry - it's a BIG DEAL that my they don't have Netflix and have to download their shows from kiosks using thumb drives.

    So - where's your plot and what matters to your characters?
     
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  6. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    Quite literally, my plot is a slice-of-life story. The main characters are two women, best friends who went to college together in 2017, and now are grown and visiting each other's families. Most of the plot is focusing on the characters as opposed to the milieu, but any references to technology and the world that I throw in I'd like to be accurate. :D I guess if there were a subplot, it would just be the change in times, kind of; one of the girl's daughters is coming of age in this story, so I might talk about growing up in different decades, etc.
     
  7. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member Contributor

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    24 is a long time for AI development. Take the difference between Siri and the most advanced AI from 1993. Now consider that that development is not a linear progression, but a geometric one. AI / voice control will start completely taking over our lives the way that the internet or the industrial revolution did.

    I think the political and socioeconomic problems will not keep up and a handful of powerful AIs controlled by the major banks of the world will dominate the economy and tedious, low paying jobs, will be in short supply.
     
  8. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    So, I feel like maybe self-driving cars could become prevalent in 24 years time. Now, what you said about AI intrigued me; could AI become sort of a personal helper? I mean, we already have voice-controlled stuff that will write a grocery list for you or place orders online, but I kind of wonder how far that could be taken.
    Would smartphones & smartwatches still be relevant, or could they be integrated/outmoded by AI or other technology?
     
  9. samcifica

    samcifica New Member

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    I've been doing some research into that time period as well recently (albeit more toward the late 40s ~ early 50s.) Things like magnet trains, animated tattoos (thin film-like screens implanted under the skin, just enough so for it to be visible,) climate-controlled clothing, and alcohol modified to not give hangovers are among some of my favorite predictions.

    I'm also a bit hung up on the prospect of futuristic "cellphones". I'm not a big fan of the brain implant idea that a lot of people seem to have, especially not so soon in the future. But googling "2050 cellphones" yields a lot of ideas on the matter! I'm partial to the idea of them being similar in size to now, but flexible enough to make into a bracelet or fold into a wallet or something for convenience. I remember reading from one blog post somewhere that suggested that consumers don't always like things smaller, so while thumb-sized cells might be neat, people might not find them convenient. It's the same with voice controls; like, we have them now, but a lot of people just can't be bothered to use them. When it comes to predictions about future technology, I think it's worth trying to take into account whether or not it would catch on with the common public.
     
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  10. halisme

    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Genetics. With the discovery of Krispr, we've going to start modifying ourselves. Genetic diseases will likely be gone, and we'll start improving ourselves. Cybernetic implants as well will be pretty big too.
     
  11. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    I feel like the ethical questions raised by using CRISPR-Cas9 on humans would be too great to implement it even in another 25 years, same with human cloning. Cybernetic implants are already making some headway (look for the advancements in prosthetics, not to mention that guy with a head implant allowing him to see in color), but yet I also doubt we could have Star Wars-level cybernetics in 25 years.

    I like the idea of magnetic trains and what is essentially anti-alcohol, but I'm especially intrigued by the cellphone discussion. I can't help but wonder how people will access social media in a quarter-century, how their handheld tech will alter their lives like ours alters our lives now. In my story, a lot of everyday stuff will be popping up in discussion, the background, etc., that's why I want to explore how our lifestyles could be changed by the onward march of technology.
     
  12. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're answering your own questions. You're asking the questions about cell phones, social media, day to day communications. You're also rejecting ideas to do with things like genetic editing and cybernetics. That tells you where to focus in building your near-future.

    Like I said, there is no such thing as an accurate near future. Nobody has a time machine. Yeah, there are some limits. Warp drive is probably not going to happen in 25 years, so don't throw it in. Genetic technology? Well, how far that goes depends heavily on the people, funding, and breakthroughs involved. There's a very high element of chance - which means you could plausibly do near zero development, but you could also plausibly postulate a world where genetic editing is becoming common. That's where you as the author come in.

    Pick and choose what YOU need for YOUR future. I guarantee that whatever you do, it will NOT look like whatever the real future holds - to much of that is up to chance - so just focus on building something that feels real to you and hits your issues.
     
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