Sunday, July 15, 2012

Are We Living in a Sci-Fi World?

The truth, as they say, is stranger than fiction. 

I read this article about driverless cars today as part of an article I'm writing for one of my blog clients.  Car insurance is sort of my niche, so I like to stay on top of developments in the field -- so I was a little taken off-guard by this, as it was the first I'd heard of the driverless cars.  And my reaction was one of visceral terror. 

I'm normally pretty level-headed about technology.  When people all around me are freaking out about scary, scary science, I'm usually the one saying, "Well, actually, look at the people it will help."  I like to think I'm pretty good at giving rational responses to scientific developments that temper enthusiasm with realism. 

But this car thing frightens me.

What worries me about it is the possibility that, if these cars become commonplace, people will forget how to drive.  People will become completely reliant on specialized technology.  And what happens if that technology fails?  What happens if, a generation from now, we have kids who have no idea how to use a car if it doesn't drive itself -- or worse, if there is literally no other method of transportation available because the cars no longer work?

Science fiction, as a genre, is struggling.  It's just not that easy to publish a sci-fi novel these days.  And I have to wonder if part of the reason is because we're already living in such a scientifically-progressive world that nothing a writer dreams up seems far-fetched enough to be really innovative.  What new ground can we possibly forge?

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