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  1. Wreybies

    Wreybies Arroz Con Admin Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The future belongs to foxen...

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Wreybies, May 9, 2019.

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  2. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Interesting article. A narrow view is a narrow view, isn't it? You might know your 'stuff' in a narrow sense, but unless you can step back and see how it fits into the total 'whole,' you're likely to screw up. Because life isn't isolated.
     
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  3. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    It's a rule in forecasting and predicting that the further out you go, the more accurate you become. But as for all those things that happen in a short lifetime, we are remarkably bad fortune tellers. I'm afraid we only see the ornaments of creation.
     
  4. Cephus

    Cephus Active Member

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    Science fiction doesn't have to be predictive, it just has to be entertaining. People look at Azimov and say "he predicted things!" So what? How many sci-fi stories of the day did that? Extremely few. Or Roddenberry. "Star Trek predicted the future!" No, fans of the show went on to make things that were similar to what they saw on the show. That's not a prediction, that's influence. Trying to forecast the future rarely ever works, just like trying to influence it. Just write a good story. Entertain your audience. Nothing else really matters.
     
  5. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter Contributor

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    That article is rough on experts. It makes a good point, expects have quite often had trouble predicting things far out, but I’m not sure that they are looking at expertise in the right way. They define a group of “experts” at one thing and examine their ability to predict, then find that ability lacking. Then they propose a new group of generalists who are good at predicting. Can’t we now call those generalists experts? And if we do, doesn’t that mean that the experts at predicting are now good at predicting?

    If you want to predict geopolitical outcomes, it may be tempting to find people who know a lot about the tactics of collecting intelligence or the strategy of fighting wars. These people are experts and very good at what they do. But predicting isn’t necessarily “what they do,” so who is to say that they are good at that? The predictions considered by the article involve a lot of human factors. To understand these you need someone with specialty in several specific things. Psychology, economics, and history. I’ll give someone who understands those three things a better chance of predicting that the Soviet Union will fall than say the best political scientist in the world. Because predicting outcomes isn’t political science. It’s a combination of psychology, economics, history, and some other fields that vary based on what we’re considering.

    So I take issue here with how they define expert I guess. And the article links to a book about how generalists are better than specialists so maybe that’s the angle they’re taking. I do agree with that idea to some extent, but with more nuance — specialization is very important. If I want to build a widget, give me a specialist at engineering, not someone who calls themselves a polymath. But there is a lot of value in specializing in multiple things. I don’t call that being a generalist, more being an expert at a bunch of specific things that meld together really well. It’s like one of those RPG games where you have 20 points to distribute across 8 skills, and can’t spend them all in one place.

    I also don’t see science fiction as predictive. More speculative. And that’s fine: there are so many possibilities that it takes an Azimovian psychohistorian to be able to be able to tell us what will happen a thousand years from now. Just too many variables. But we can play around with concepts, and will usually find small elements of truth. The foundation of the genre is built not on what changes though, but what stays the same. That is how we relate with fiction set in the distant future or past.
     
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  6. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The more accurate? I don't understand what you are referring to.

    Just look back if you want to see forward. You don't have to go very far back.

    William Gibson, Necromancer, in an interview:
    Technology is moving too fast to be very predictable. I spent a lot of time looking at sites like Gizmodo and chose to not go too far in the future because it's so difficult to predict given how much is changing and how fast.
     
  7. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    It goes something like this... in ten years I very much expect to be alive. In twenty years odds are I'll still be alive. But in thirty years I will most definitely be dead.
    You can plugin almost anything and get the same results. What will our planet be like in a century? A millennium? I can only guess. But in a billion years I know exactly what Earth will be like. As you go further and further into the future the possible outcomes get fewer and fewer.
     
  8. Wreybies

    Wreybies Arroz Con Admin Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't even think it's that. I hold to the idea that because Science Fiction is narratively set in the future, readers are often under the impression that the writers of Science Fiction are trying, in some way, accurate or not, to talk to the reader about the future. I think that's as incorrect as thinking a writer of Western novels is trying to talk to us about horses and cattle by simple dint of their ubiquity within Western novels. Upthread someone quoted Gibson, father of cyberpunk, and Gibson is the first to agree with me because he was one of the most heavily leaned into by critics concerning how he was able to predict the coming of the telecommunication revolution. He's quoted on many occasions as not having predicted anything, nor was he trying to because he believes that not only is it pointless to do so, but the pointlessness is two-pronged. 1) You just can't, and 2) even if you could, what would be the point of talking to readers about things that not only have not transpired yet, but would appear extremely unlikely to occur to any person looking into the future, standing in the "now".

    From The Paris Review, Summer of 2011:

    http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6089/the-art-of-fiction-no-211-william-gibson
     
  9. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter Contributor

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    I don’t think science fiction writers should keep score based on what they can predict and what they can’t. There is value though in asking the question what if, and this is what I mean by speculating. What would happen if we could travel to the moon or the bottom of the sea (Verne)? What would happen if people lived forever (Peter F. Hamilton)? It’s not a prediction that such things will happen, rather a changing of the variables. A chance to go to a different place and see what has changed, and just as important, what has stayed the same.
     
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