Science fiction: Asking questions to the future

Latest since the industrial revolution, the cultural significance of science has become impossible to miss. It has transformed our lives beyond recognition and is continuing to do so at an ever increasing speed. The technologies we create change the way we interact with the world. Through the internet we have created means of communication that are dissolving our traditional notions of time and information. Before we have even come close to understanding its significance for the coming generation, this piece of technology itself has already transformed again and is now delocalised and touchable on a smart phone. How will this development change our view of the world? Will we be able to keep up with our own progress? Through science and technology, we have not only achieved a greater understanding of the world around us, we have also become able to shape it. But what happens when we do it?

Science fiction often attempts to trace out the answers without us even asking. Which way will tomorrow’s technology pave for us? What role will it play in the future of our society? As complex and speculative as these questions are, we cannot hide from them. In many science fiction stories this becomes most strikingly obvious when artificial intelligence enters the stage. We may be able to avoid asking ourselves the question what we want to do with our technology. But should we ever build an intelligent machine, it will do it for us. From ‘Odyssey 2001’ to ‘Blade Runner’ and Isaac Asimov’s short stories, once the future itself asks us how we got there, we better come up with a good answer.

– Malte

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