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Science Fiction speculation



There are many Science Fiction themes and tropes, both in serious SF literature and - inspired either from there or from popular culture - in popular Sci Fi entertainment, regarding which we can only at present speculate at whether they may at some future time, or already do, correspond to the "real world".

For all of things, confirmation of their viability or reality will imply huge revolutions in our understanding of the universe, and in some cases of life and existence itself. Such revolutions are inevitable, given the march of knowldge. Compare for example the modern understanding of the cosmos with that of Classical Greece or medieval Europe. ven today there are many people who cannot accept ceratin discories and findings of science - e.g. Creationists cannot believe that man evolved from apes, because in a literal reading of the Bible it says that God made Adam out of clay, and Eve from one of his ribs. Future developments and advances in knowledge will be every bit as confronting on scientific, sociological, philosophical, and religious grounds. Only those with a sufficiently high "Future Shock" resistence level will be able to accommodate these things.

One of the joys of science fiction and hard science worldbuilding is that it allows the exploration of such controversial idaes, and the implications, should they turn out to be viable.

Let us consider now a few such possible thinks, and the implications should they turn out to be true. Conversely, they may turn out to be untrue, and our current understanding of the cosmos will be shown to be valid. In alphabetical order then:



Aliens (Xenology)

Aliens may or may not exist and if they do may or may not be roughly humanoid, but they cannot look exactly like (or even sinmply reasonably like) us, because it is impossible for natural selection to follow exactly the same random choices; especially since other planets may have very different environments.


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Scenarios which employ Aliens

Almost all space opera SF and Sci Fi has some or many aliens. Aliens are the perfect mythic symbol for the "Other". Asimov's Foundation is one of the very few interstellar-setting SF universes that does not employ aliens.

However, the English-speaking, culturally westernised (and often Los Angeles Americanised), humanoid aliens of popular Sci Fi entertainment are a fantasy, they do not exist anywhere in the universe (beyond Hollywood and other such entertainment). It is also total fantasy and incorrect to assume that every second solar system has a planet inhabited by indigenous humanoid aliens. This Star Trek concept of the "humonoid of the week" used to annoy me immensely.



Artificial Intelligence and Infomorphs

So far no-one has built or designed an AI. This doesnt mean that AI are impossible. Some philosophers don't believe in AI, because they consider that only a human can think. This is chauvanism of the most ridiculous kind. In fact, there is no reason why any substrate of sufficient complexity cannot serve as the material basis for intelligence.


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Scenarios which employ AI

As computers become more ubiquitous in our society, an increasing number of writers are employing AI in their stories. When I established Orion's Arm, I used Posthuman AI as a mythologiocal symbol for the Other (the equivalent of aliens in earlier SF)



Dry Nanotech

It is important to distinguish dry nano from wet nano. Life is wet nano; every one of the cells in our bodies is a microscopic factory. So we know without dowbt that nano is real, and bionano will ceratinly revolutionise our lives in the coming decades. But what about "dry" nano; nano as microscopic machines that don't need a liquid medium, assemblers and repliactors taht can build a spaceship out of dirt in your backyard? This is the sort of nanotech envisaged by Eric Drexler in his book Engines of Creation ; it remains a very controversial subject


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Femtotech (and beyond)


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Posthuman Intelligence and Godlike evolution


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Superluminary Travel (FTL)


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Wormholes

Wormholes are "tunnels" in space-time. Unlike FTL, the existence of wormholes does not require time travel paradoxes or necessarily imply acausality (Matt Visser, a New Zealand physicist has shown that wormholes can't be used as time machines). Because (unlike FTL) they can be derived from physics equations today, wormholes are a popular hard SF alternative to FTL mcguffins (one even finds them appearing in sci fi entertainment - e.g. DS9, SG-1, Farscape) - but there as a supplement, not an alternative, to FTL)

However, wormholes do require what is known as "negative energy", and some physicists do not think that there is such a thing. Also, no wormhole energy signatures have ever been observed. Of course, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!


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Scenarios which employ wormholes


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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 10 January 2006