For years science fiction on the page and screen has predicted what our future will look like.
Technology that was once the province of Star Trek is now in our pockets and even ours terms metaverse and cyberspace were first penned by authors like Neal Stephenson and William Gibson.
A panel of science fiction authors, journalists and experts came together in 2021 to tell the Beyond Games audience what modern science fiction is predicting for us next. What has sci-fi taught us about AI in real life? Can the evolution of technology lead to useful or more “abuse-ful” applications in our lives? Will visions of Ready Player One and The Matrix become reality?
On escapism and sentient AI
At the online conference Beyond Games #2 (November 2021), Richard Edwards and Tanavi Patel (Robby The Robot’s Waiting), Chris James (Steel Media), Jaine Fenn (author and games writer) and Guy Haley (author) discuss sci-fi media that may predict how tech will evolve in the future. They talk about the wish-fulfilment aspect of Ready Player One, as well as the tactile elements that future haptics may bring.
The panellists also share their thoughts about the desirability of going fully virtual. In particular, is VR preferable to actually going out and experiencing life? Or is it only desirable when you can no longer use your body the way you normally can? Has the pandemic dulled or strengthened the appeal of virtual spaces while physically staying at home?
When it comes to artificial intelligence, on the other hand, sci-fi films and shows have shown us what can go right – and what can go wrong. Sentient AI is often depicted as dangerous as fans of The Terminator will remember. But considering we don’t even fully understand our own human consciousness just yet, fully general artificial intelligence seems a long way off.
On the possibility of commercial space travel
Of course, when you talk about sci-fi, you can’t take space exploration out of the picture. Everybody loves Star Trek and Star Wars, but even as William Shatner makes his first real trip off the Earth, it’s not clear how widely available commercial space travel will be, The panel shares valuable insights about humans mining resources off-world, as well as the dangers and the financial costs that go along with it. Exploration is part of fundamental human nature – the risk is part of the appeal. The same can even be said about the metaverse.
This fun one-hour session of chat and speculation is ideal for anyone who’s always been curious about sentient AI, technology, VR and escapism in online communities. It’s also a good watch for anyone who might want to know how far off – or how close – we actually are to a complete technological revolution – or a dystopia.