They tried to warn us. Terminator, Bladerunner, Minority Report, Year of The Flood, Oryx and Crake. Perhaps the packaging of such warnings as ‘sci-fi’ is a massive conspiracy to keep us all looking the other way. Not being a believer in conspiracies – I prefer the cock-up theory over conspiracy every time – I suspect it’s just because it’s too hard to piece all the evidence together when it comes in dribs and drabs.
In fiction, presenting it as a complete vision of a dystopian future seems to make it all seem out of reach and unbelievable. “It’ll never happen”, we think, because the sci-fi author has packaged it up so neatly and given everything such too-cool-to-be-real names.
Then again, you’ve got to wonder if in fifty years time people will look back and wonder quite how everyone missed it at the start – because right now we are soon to welcome the following into our lives without much fanfare or question:
Unmanned drones policing us from above
Meat grown in vats
Genetically modified farmed salmon
I’m not saying we should protest (well, apart from the unmanned drones – really. Really? Come on) but if we’re trying to pinpoint when it all began then it’d be worth marking this point in time.
I mean, what next? A disappearing middle of society whilst it splits into the massively-haves and the powerless rest? Huge disparity in incomes, states entwined irrevocably with the engines of the economy, a few single media powers buying up the rest and attacks on independent non-privately owned alternatives? And then where would we be?
I’m not saying we are all DEFINITELY going to be enslaved by machines any time soon, but it’s starting to look odds-on.