The future of flirting?

Now here’s a thing. A piece of wearable tech that automates flirting.

If it spots someone looking at you via its cameras it diverts its ‘eyes’ towards them and vibrates. As you turn it lets you know when you’re looking at the right person and if you’re both interested it turns its tentacles towards them.

Doesn’t it sound great?

But… I couldn’t help feeling that it looks so unusual its bound to attract attention and mistake a curious stare for sexual attraction. Or even better, that two wearers are tricked into a cycle of implied mutual attraction by mistake.

The more I thought about this the more I thought that maybe mutual mistakes aren’t such a bad thing. After all, who can tell what makes people attracted to one another and a little bit of feeling fancied always helps ease the flirting…

Meet Ripple: A tentacle-shaped wearable device for flirting

Cautionary Tools

I was struck recently by a piece in Nature: the international journal of science on what science fiction has to offer a world where technology and power structures are rapidly changing.

As the headline says, “With technological change cranked up to warp speed and day-to-day life smacking of dystopia, where does science fiction go? Has mainstream fiction taken up the baton?”

It’s a fairly widely held view that sci-fi doesn’t predict the future very well, but it’s good at helping us think about on our own humanity in a changing world and some of the articles reflect on this.

We might be rubbish at predicting the future because technology doesn’t develop in a straight line, but many of the scientists I’ve spoken to will tell you about the sci-fi that inspired them. Although, I guess that’s influencing rather than predicting.

Something that I didn’t pick up in the articles that I think is important is whether we would be so sensitive to real-life ‘dystopia’ if we hadn’t had hugely popular sci-fi such as Nineteen Eighty Four, Brave New World, Blade Runner and more recently Black Mirror.

Have these works of science fiction made us more attuned to the attempts to manipulate us, or more wary of how technology might go wrong once you mix the messiness of humanity with the cracks in the code?

I think they have, I think they give us cautionary tools.

Whatever your view on science fiction these six articles by leading sci-fi writers are well worth a read.


photo credit: creative heroes The Supervision – Stop Mass Surveillance! via photopin (license)

The Age of the Ageless

Recently I was thinking about writing a story set in a world where you never die.

Now, that’s not an original idea I grant you, but nonetheless it is a fascinating idea that can be used to illuminate a lot about the human condition. I guess that’s why it’s been used so often.

We often think of health when we think about living for ever, but what about experience, knowledge, and good judgement – let’s call it wisdom.

And, that’s the twist in this particular tale – you have to choose the age you’re going to stay at. This then determines not only your health but also how wise you are, for ever. In other words, you keep maturing until the age you choose and then you stop and your health can’t get better or worse and you can’t gain any more wisdom.

I wanted to understand what age people would choose so I asked my mailing list if they wanted to help me, anonymously of course, and luckily they did.

Responses are coming in; their creative juices are flowing and enlightening me. Almost half of the survey respondents have chosen a similar age to their present age and the remainder are split 50:50 between choosing to be younger or older.

Of course, the explanations are the most fascinating and that’s where the real ‘flavour’ of the story will come from.

I wonder if you can you guess what age this respondent chose? “It was my last hurrah. I had tasted it all, learned my knowledge and experienced the ups and downs of love, life, friendship and work. Children yet to come, dreams still alive and ambition still believable.”

The survey will run for a little while longer and then I’ll write The Age of the Ageless. I reckon it’s going to be interesting to write and hopefully it’ll be a good read.

If you’re not on the mailing list and would like to contribute feel free to leave a comment at the foot of this post.

 


photo credit: byronv2 Carnival 2017 073 via photopin (license)