Predicting The Future While Living in the Present

I spent many years as a futurist. My job was to forecast future technology trends and product sales. Sounds easy, but I codified my future predictions in reports that our company sold to subscribers. We made an honest effort to keep track of just how accurate we were. If we were wrong too often, our clients would vote with their feet and find someone else to hire. Still, I had a very good record. Around 2002 I predicted handheld computers remarkably similar to what we have now with iPads. I forecast ubiquitous and free WiFi, and lo and behold, we have it in most places where there are commercial operations.

I also write science fiction as well as technology thrillers and mysteries. I try to make my science fiction as accurate as possible when it comes to science. That presents problems, of course. It’s relatively easy for a writer or film maker to invent some mumbo jumbo to explain how spaceships can fly across the universe and exceed the speed of light. It’s a bit harder to come up with something that is theoretically possible and yet still entertaining.

I wrote one novel where I envisioned a future in which everyone who reaches a certain age is fitted with a brain implant, a chip that provides 24-hour Internet access as well as email and other types of messaging. The children go through a period when they have to be hospitalized while they adjust to the noises in their heads. Imagine a thousand people talking to you at once. Some children go insane, but most manage to develop the discipline to control the flow of messages. Still, every time they go by a store, the merchandiser is likely to see if the IP address matches someone in their customer database. If it does, they will narrow cast a message with a customized sale offer featuring something the customer likes.

I subscribe to a newsletter that keeps me up to date on the latest in scientific breakthroughs. I learned yesterday that DARPA has been experimenting with implanting chips so that it can load information into someone’s head. Imagine how much easier that would be than having to go to school to learn certain skills. Here’s the article, if you’re curious:¬†http://amzn.to/1dEcwQH

I frequently visit websites that provide the latest rumors about aliens, UFOs, etc. While I can dismiss many of these rumors, there are some that pass the sniff test. Those i explore in more depth by looking for other sources. Some of these rumors wound up in Alien Love, my latest science fiction novel. The rumors about alien activity on the Moon have existed now for decades. What if an a dying astronaut felt he had nothing to lose by being straight with the American people?

The problem with trying to be a futurist as well as a science fiction novelist is staying ahead of reality. What if decided to write about driverless cars? Oops, Google has beaten me to it. The same now is true of chip implants for intelligence and communications. How about a world in which the environment is failing? Oops, reality has intervened once again.

So, I’ll keep trying to noodle the future, but I better also keep reading the daily newspaper.alien love cover

 

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