I’m currently engaged in writing a science-fiction novel with my father. It’s a fun thing to do together when you live eight time zones apart.
As part of the process, I’m educating my father on the latest happenings in science, and futurism… It’s an interesting time for certain.
Science-fiction is reaching an end. Why? Because the future is becoming more and more unpredictable. That is due to Moore’s Law: Density of electonic circuits doubles, at the same price, every 18 months. An exponential acceleration, not a linear one. This “Law” doesn’t apply only to computers, but also to sciences that have “virtualized”: Biochemistry, genetics, nanotechnology, physics. And of course, it also applies to all our informational exchanges, which are an ever-increasing part of our economies and our lives.
This means that all these fields already accelerate faster than is conceivable. The scientists for whom it’s daily work are themselves stunned by the speed of discovery, and feel old at 30, because they have a hard time staying on the cutting edge.
For instance: The 15-year human genome project had only decoded 1% of the genome at the half-way mark, 7 years in. That meant it was on track, since the researchers were able to double their performance every year. Indeed, the human genome was decoded early, and under budget.
Therefore, science-fiction has a few more years, after which point humanity will be so transformed that it will become unintelligible to a modern human: Longevity measured in centuries, direct brain-network interface, genetic-self-manipulation, conquest of impulses and emotions… all of this directly undermines what constitutes the human experience: The terrifying certainty of death, individuality, immutability of the body, passion and desire… After a certain point (commonly called “the Singularity”), we go from humans to “transhumans”, super-intelligent, non-individual, immortal, therefore without sex, children, fear, or risk. It’s impossible to imagine what will motivate and animate them, and it’s probably not very relatable.
So, in sci-fi, it’s best to keep to the next ten to twenty-five years… after that, who knows?