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Ask Slashdot: What Essays and Short Stories Should Be In a Course On Futurism?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the i-have-no-mouth-and-i-must-scream dept.

Education 293

Ellen Spertus writes "I'll be teaching an interdisciplinary college course on how technology is changing the world and how students can influence that change. In addition to teaching the students how to create apps, I'd like for us to read and discuss short stories and essays about how the future (next 40 years) might play out. For example, we'll read excerpts from David Brin's Transparent Society and Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near. I'm also considering excerpts of Cory Doctorow's Homeland and Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age. What other suggestions do Slashdotters have?"

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1984 (1)

korbulon (2792438) | about a year ago | (#46343767)

All too easy.

Re:1984 (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#46343795)

1984 isn't so much a story as it is a manual for government agencies.
I'm surprised the NSA hasn't labelled it as "classified information" yet.

Re:1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343839)

.. or tried to burn every copy

Re:1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344425)

Wrong book, shouldn't have you said that the book has been rewrited in a more modern language?

Re:1984 (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#46343925)

Despite all the cries of the NSA, the Brit agencies have taken 1984 almost to it's completion.

Re:1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344215)

I'll be fine as long as I buy a Macintosh from Apple Computer, right? Steve Saint Jobs promised!

Re:1984 (3)

TractorBarry (788340) | about a year ago | (#46344217)

It's actually a lot closer to Aldous Huxley's Brave New World [huxley.net] .

Re:1984 (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#46344203)

That's good reading for everyone, but for a more recent look ahead on how technology changes the world, I would recommend "The Circle" by Dave Eggers. Instead of a tyrannical government, the book predicts a runaway Google-like company. It's the kind of "tyranny of the public" we can expect if we continue to cheerfully sign away our privacy and the privacy of others to otherwise well-meaning companies.

Re:1984 (1)

flyneye (84093) | about a year ago | (#46344309)

Some Kafka , I think.
The Handicapper General prophesied Hillary Clinton and the Repubmocrat party. I bet theres more gold to be found in Kafka.

Soylent Green (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343781)

Make Room! Make Room! Harry Harrison. A dystopian near-future where overpopulation leads to a struggle for resources. Overcrowding, energy blackouts, food riots and soylent green. Especially look for any passages where the old man, in the main protagonists shared flat, talks about how the world used to be.

The Father Thing (1)

warewolfsmith (196722) | about a year ago | (#46343783)

The Father Thing - Philip K Dick

It's Such a Beautiful Day (1)

warewolfsmith (196722) | about a year ago | (#46343787)

It's Such a Beautiful Day - James Blish

None of the above (4, Insightful)

kamapuaa (555446) | about a year ago | (#46343789)

Read biographies of people who actually changed the world, and discuss how they did it.

Stop confusing science fiction or science fiction-styled essays with futurism.

Re:None of the above (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#46343905)

Read biographies of people who actually changed the world, and discuss how they did it.

On that note, I would nominate The Ascent of Man: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org] , by Jacob Bronowski.

However, when I think it, very few folks in the world today have any appreciation for, or understanding of, how the human species got to where it is today.

It's actually very depressing, when I think about it. But the book is fascinating.

Re:None of the above (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#46344195)

Reading biographies of individual people implies that individual people have individually changed the world. By and large that is not true. On can read a biography on Edison, but that does not tell you the complex story of how that technology actually came to pass and how it effected the world.

Reading fiction and non-fiction that explores the possibilities or technology, and even the rejection of technology can lead to discussion on the various factors effected the adoption and exploration of technology. For instance Guns, Germs, and Steel puts forward many hypothesis on why some civilizations developed technology, some borrowed it, and some rejected it. It related to the distribution and adoption of technology today and in the future, and how those futurist who think technology is the answer can make it more widely available. On the fiction side, The Difference Engine imagines a world where we had computers in the victorian era. This can lead to a discussion on the differences between an idea, a manufacturing process, and an affordable mass manufacturing process. For instance, was the technology for manufacturing hundreds of identical gears present in the 1800's?

One this I find interesting is that we know have simplified the process of programming computers to the point where an slightly above average kid with an average education can develop an App. This only took 50 years, two generations. This reflects something that we see repeatedly. The spread of technology does not depend on a special person making a technology, rather the development of a process that makes the technology available to greater number of people. For instance, the process to make a precision screw was incredible important to much of what we do today, even if many of the people who have used the screw do not understand what it does.

Dear Slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343791)

I'm supposed to teach others, but I'm too lazy to do my own research. Can you help me?

Disambiguation. You are not talking about Futurism (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343801)

First, try to use the right terms for what you are trying to describe. Futurims isn't about "how technology is changing the world", it's not even "about the future" (well, not ours anyway). What you are refering to is Futurology.

Here, take this : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futurism
and thos : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futurology

Stanislaw Lem (2)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year ago | (#46343803)

Stanislaw Lem's The Futurological Congress [wikipedia.org]

Re:Stanislaw Lem (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | about a year ago | (#46343967)

Even better: Return from the Stars [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Stanislaw Lem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344005)

But best of all...
The Cyberiad - Fables for the Cybernetic Age

Re:Stanislaw Lem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344045)

Summa Technologiae - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summa_Technologiae

mAk dem wrte an essay n text-language (4, Interesting)

captainpanic (1173915) | about a year ago | (#46343807)

yor students shud wrte thR essay bout d evoluation of language, UzN a modern txtN lngwij, lol!
Oh, U ask bout reading, not writiN. ZOMG!

Re:mAk dem wrte an essay n text-language (4, Interesting)

dltaylor (7510) | about a year ago | (#46343947)

Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) did it better:

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all. Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli. Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

http://www.design.caltech.edu/erik/Misc/Twain_english.html [caltech.edu]

Re:mAk dem wrte an essay n text-language (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343975)

xank iuo. xat wus gud.

posting ac to avoid karma hit: just wanted to show appreciation for your post.

Re:mAk dem wrte an essay n text-language (1)

Nutria (679911) | about a year ago | (#46344199)

wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i"

Sam Clemens is wrong about the "y".

The vowel form of "y" could be replaced by an "i", but it makes no sense to replace the consonant sound with a vowel sound.

Re:mAk dem wrte an essay n text-language (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344437)

And that's how Dutch was made.

Bladerunnner (2)

warewolfsmith (196722) | about a year ago | (#46343813)

Bladerunner - Philip K Dick

Re:Bladerunnner (2)

Buck Feta (3531099) | about a year ago | (#46343859)

I would instead recommend the novel off which that movie is based - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but Dick's best work is found in his short stories.

"The Electric Ant" is especially pertinent, as is "The Mold of Yancey", "Autofac", and, of course, "Second Variety".

Re:Bladerunnner (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#46344253)

I would instead recommend the novel off which that movie is based - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but Dick's best work is found in his short stories.

"The Electric Ant" is especially pertinent, as is "The Mold of Yancey", "Autofac", and, of course, "Second Variety".

So is "We can remember it for you Wholesale" (a/k/a "Total Recall").

Substitute multiple mutually-ignorant meddling government agencies for aliens and you're all set for a possible near-future reality.

Unless the aliens get there first. Damn secret overlords.

Help me, Slashdot, you're my only hope. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343837)

I'm lazy and can't do the minimum research required to write a syllabus myself, for a college course I'll be teaching, no less. I and other witless instructors just like me are the future of education. Twenty minutes into the future, education does not occur.

Asimov (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343843)

The Foundation series is a great set of material where he deals with the difference between an individual's actions swaying the course of history, and the behaviours and trends of large groups over time (psychohistory).

It links in neatly with the 3 laws, and if it's far too long then try some of his short stories.

Re:Asimov (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#46344349)

And is futurism too, predicting and influencing how large groups think and behave, is something that is used today, maybe not at the millenia scale of foundation, but is some of the predictions that is making our everyday lives today, be aware of it or not.

Check out 365 tomorrows (1)

kav2k (1545689) | about a year ago | (#46343849)

You should dig around the website 365 tomorrows [365tomorrows.com] , which publishes daily science fiction short stories, "flash fiction".
It's frequently quite thought provoking and is exactly about exploring how future can change our lives in form of short peeks into it.

3 things (2)

VernonNemitz (581327) | about a year ago | (#46343865)

"Superiority [mayofamily.com] " by Arthur C. Clarke
"The Power of Progression [triumf.info] " by Isaac Asimov
"Time For The Stars [heinleinsociety.org] " by Robert A. Heinlein, with particular attention to the "Long Range Foundation"

Start with Plato (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343869)

continue with the Book of Revelations, the Neo-Platonists, Bacon and enlightenment, early 20th century fascism and communism, and finish with the Soviet and American vision of progress in the 60's-90's. - You'll find a lot of ideas closely related to the futurism of our time.

Banks? (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about a year ago | (#46343871)

A Few Notes on the Culture [trevor-hopkins.com] .

Re:Banks? (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about a year ago | (#46343883)

OK, I totally mis-read the article. Too far in the future.

Alvin Toffler (1)

oddtodd (125924) | about a year ago | (#46343875)

Powershift - Alvin Toffler
Published in 1990, might be interesting to see how his predictions fared.

The Third Wave - Alvin Toffler
Published in 1980, the second book of the trilogy.

Future Shock - Alvin Toffler
Published in 1970, my introduction to the fact that there were books other than SF worth reading.

I see he has written another, Revolutionary Wealth, which I must now go acquire.

Disambiguation, you're not talking about Futurism (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343877)

I commented about that anonymousely a minute ago and I think Shalsdot ate my comment, so I'll go ahead and repeat myself:
The thing you are describing isn't Futurism. Futurims isn't about "how technology is changing the world" and specifically not about " how [it] might play out". It's about the glorification of early 20th century technology and the way it affected the people at that time.

What you are talking about is Futurology, NOT Futursim. Try not to confuse these, especially if you are teaching people who already know about that stuff. Trying to make the disambiguation early on can be intresting too, since most people tend to abusively use the word Futrism.

Here, take this : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futurism
and this : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futurology

Re:Disambiguation, you're not talking about Futuri (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344059)

Shalsdot ate my comment

Eat more pussy. Your future will depend on it.

Harrison Bergeron (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343887)

Though it's about social rather than technological developments.

My Favorites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343893)

1. Stanislaw Lem, The Futurological Congress, Solaris
2. Roger Zelazny, Songs from the dying earth
3. Larry Niven: Ringworld
4. William Gibson: Neuromancer
5. Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash
6. Fritz Lang: Metropolis
7. Isaac Asimov: Foundation Triology
8. Philipp K. Dick: Just abaut anything
9. Back to the Future Movies

"A Logic Named Joe" (1)

dpilot (134227) | about a year ago | (#46343911)

by Murray Leinster, March 1946. If you're going to talk about how our literature predicts the future, it's worth taking a look at how past literature predicted us. "A Logic Named Joe" did a pretty good job of nailing the internet, nomenclature aside, and it did it almost 70 years ago.

Isaac Asimov (1)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | about a year ago | (#46343915)

" Before The Golden Age " vols. 1-4. A series of science fiction anthologies written before 1939 (the beginning of the "Golden Age" of science fiction). A look at how our great/grandparents saw today (their far future).

students can influence change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343929)

Thank you for ordering the double quarter pounder meal. Out of $10, your change today comes to $2.87.

Futurism? the early C20th art movement? (5, Insightful)

fantomas (94850) | about a year ago | (#46343931)

Well if you're going to teach about Futurism [wikipedia.org] you should definitely include some critical consideration of the effect of industrialisation on European and North American countries, consider how art was affected by the experiences of artists in the First World War, and how it influenced the later art movements such as Art Deco, Surrealism, and Dada.

Re:Futurism? the early C20th art movement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344249)

this. all else would just be raping the term futurism.

Re:Futurism? the early C20th art movement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344257)

How timely:
In Thrall to Machines, War and a More Manly Future
“Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe” runs through Sept. 1 at the Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, at 88th Street, (212) 423-3500.

You will love it.

Re:Futurism? the early C20th art movement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344521)

THAT. Definitely.

proximal impacts (1)

maxwells daemon (105725) | about a year ago | (#46343937)

Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction An Unnatural History

Ray Bradbury (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343945)

I for one was always fascinated by Ray Bradbury's "A Distant Sound of Thunder" when it came to thinking about the future... I always liked the fact that that the future is built on the past, and this short little story put it as clear and obvious as can be. It was good when I first read it in 6th grade, and it's still excellent on many levels.

While not really "Futurism" (My definition has always been the ideal of casting off the past for the future), I do think it presents enough of a look at the cause and effect, plus it's small size even for a short story, that it should bear consideration.

Visit to the World's Fair of 2014 (1)

Buck Feta (3531099) | about a year ago | (#46343991)

If there is one piece you must include, it is this [nytimes.com] . Asimov imagined 2014 in 1964, and he wasn't far off with some of his ideas.

How can entropy be reversed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343995)

Birthright: The Book of Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46343999)

By Mike Resnick.

Birthright spans a timeline of nearly 17 millennia, beginning at a very early stage of expansion from Earth and ending with the death of the last humans.

The bad news is, humans are inherently racist imperialist bigots. The good news is, humans will eventually be extinct. Changing human nature is futile; the lesson is to get drunk and forget about it.

The machine stops (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344003)

A great short story. A city is controlled by robots, the robots feel like they are in the 1950s. Because of the radioactive dust, during the war, the city is uninhabited. But the robots don't know that. A human goes into the city to try to wreck the master computer so humans can move in. This is a story about how robots need human intervention because every eventually can not be programmed into them, it is against the over reliance upon machines. Machines lack basic judgement.

Re:The machine stops (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about a year ago | (#46344069)

From what I recall, the humans simply don't care about going out because they're living in little rooms hooked up to the internet teleconferencing with whoever they want to and ordering their food online. It's more of a caution against internet addiction, written in 1909.

Re:The machine stops (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344185)

While specifically cautioning against Internet addiction, in general the tale cautioned against becoming dependent upon any poorly understood technology. The Machine stopped when the Mending Apparatus broke down because the people had neglected their education and didn't know how any of their machinery worked.

Re:The machine stops (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344551)

I was just about to point this out, because it isn't crappy Sci-Fi like most of the other postings here on this subject.
E.M. Forster did not write crappy Sci-Fi. This was a prescient analysis of how people can get so isolated; look at how many posters here have lives that that are so totally centered on a glowing screen a few inches from their noses.

Another really good, and thoughtful, read from the same era is Bellamy's "Looking Backward". From there, you could explore the historical analysis of Marx, and how he got so many of his predictions apparently wrong. But Our Century is still young...

The problem with the question posed isn't that the submitter didn't know enough about the subject, but that they were so thoroughly ignorant that they didn't even know that they were asking such a thoroughly stupid question in the first place.

Primary sources? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#46344007)

How about a collection of primary source material concerning the...neat...capabilities of technology being actively exploited, on a global scale, right now.

Seems to me that lesson #1 for (my best guess about what your course is about) is the fact that 'the future' isn't a tame model organism that you neatly confine to the future tense and clinically examine. It's more like a chestburster embedded in the present tense, your present tense, the stuff you would think is too banal to possibly do a course about, and it's starting to squirm.

In fairness to some of the great visionary essayists and hard sci-fi types, it is quite impressive how far ahead of time they managed to predict, sometimes in fair detail, 'the future', and they deserve all credit for such an accomplishment; but to overemphasize 'future-as-text' is to create the fundamentally misleading impression that 'the future' is like some sort of celestial phenomenon, sitting at a distance while we tell past-tense stories about which authors were the best at manning the telescopes.

It's much, much, more immediate than that. 'The future' is what your students probably don't even notice 90% or more of(not that I claim to, or claim that anybody does: banality and familiarity are the ultimate camouflage) happening right now, and on a screaming ahead on a trajectory of its own.

Re:Primary sources? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344087)

Oh, while I'm rambling (no sleep last night, nothing but amphetamines(100% legal, doctor's orders!) between me and empty):

What about touching on a case study of an interesting group of people who, rather nobly, decided to jump on top of emerging technology, given the trajectory of 'the future' a good hard shove, all very inspiring (and often backed by nontrival talent); but whose outcome is the sort of brutal ironic defeat that you usually associate with particularly mean-spirited Greek Mythology.

Remember the 'cypherpunk'? The bold, anti-authoritarian, vision of how the implications of number theory, the structures of math itself, would usher in a new era of strong crypto, surveillance-resistance, anonymity, all sorts of cool stuff, getting classified as a munition by The Man (who couldn't stop you, because your 'weapon' was a concise chunk of pure math, impossible to block), really very inspiring.

Well. Funny story. Y'know what else you can do with strong crypto? Locked down bootloaders. 'Trusted Computing'. DRM. 'Secure Remote Attestation'. powerful, elegant, 'tivoization' of basically every aspect of what used to be the general-purpose computer, the network it connected to, and the parts it was made of [trustedcom...ggroup.org] . Game. Fucking. Over. This particular coin had two faces (Just like 'Janus' the development codename for WMDRM...), and I think we can all agree which face landed up. I know of no more brutal irony than this in the recent history of computing. Fantastic lesson if you want to teach the kiddies about 'how students can influence change', though...

Re:Primary sources? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#46344131)

Further rambling, I can feel the stims kicking in (though, really, if you can ignore my shitty, disjointed prose 'style', I'm honestly giving you good faith advice here): If you want to talk 'trusted computing' from the perspective of an early, and insightful, worker in the field, look up Mark Stefik's body of writings (some of them take the form of patents, which are pretty damn dry; but there is some human-readible prose as well). He was at Xerox PARC, at least until the mid 90's, not sure when he started, and he did a lot of writing about 'trusted systems', both implementation (note to self: Don't attempt to design a 'rights management/expression' markup language covering all use cases. Just don't. Definitely don't reboot your first attempt with more XML.) and theory/musing on implications.

I certainly don't vouch for all of his work, having not read all of it; but he's an interesting guy, and has some approachable text, as well as some actual techie nitty-gritty (which isn't a bad thing, turning a theory course into 'grovelling through the CS class you would have taken from the CS department if you wanted to take a CS class' is unhelpful and rude; but it's important for students to remember that, as at any point in history, 'material culture' is not something that exists for the future study of historians. It is wrested from the earth, by human ingenuity, craft, and sometimes sheer muscle, and you can only approach it to a certain extent if you insist on viewing it as a bunch of high-level diagrams or artifacts safely behind the museum glass.

The past was what it was because of how our predecessors made it. The present is as it is because of how we maintain and modify it. The future, as it has been since before the dawn of recorded history, will ultimately be dictated by what our descendants(or their Strong-AI agents) sit down and build.

Ok, that's enough for right now. I'm going to stand down for a while.

perhaps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344009)

I think something in the style of Kurzweil's interviews at the end of the chapters of the age of spiritual machines rotos be good. Something along the line of an imaginary interview between an engineering student from today and an engineering student from 2050 on the subject of technology and it's impact broadly on society and specifically in the life of the future student.

Paris in the Twentieth Century by Jules Verne (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344031)

The novel tells a story in the city of Paris in 1960 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_in_the_Twentieth_Century (wikipedia)
Why is it interesting: It was writen in 1863. And that is the intresting thing about it. It let your students see what the limits of futurism

Turing Evolved (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344061)

Although it is set around 200 years in the future, most of the technology is actually under development today. It's about the point at which artificial intelligence becomes human, though it does examine the technologies developed during the 19th and 20th century and extrapolates it over 200 years into the future.

how to create apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344077)

So it's a class about being a hipster, is it? Make those apps! Sell out to the highest bidder! Invest your profits in Wall Street! Become a 1%er tomorrow by selling out today!

Maneki Neko by Bruce Sterling (1)

drkim (1559875) | about a year ago | (#46344081)

Maneki Neko by Bruce Sterling ...which you can read for free right here:

http://www.lightspeedmagazine.... [lightspeedmagazine.com]

The diamond age is two books ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344101)

Is it me, or is the diamond age like 2 books - the first one, being the first chapter - a terrible terrible shlock scifi and the 2nd being the rest of the book.

I nearly didn't read it as I couldn't get past that first chapter about a guy with a gun mounted in his head..

George Saunders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344169)

George Saunders writes very good (often futuristic/sciencefictiony) short stories. See, for example, Jon [ http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2003/01/27/030127fi_fiction?currentPage=all ] or The Semplica-girl Diaries [ http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2012/10/15/121015fi_fiction_saunders?currentPage=all ].

ARC - exactly about what you want to discuss (1)

Swoopy (101558) | about a year ago | (#46344183)

You may want to have a look at New Scientist magazine's digital futurology spin-off "ARC". They aim to publish 4 a year (2.1 was just released, 2013 saw 4 releases) and it's all about trying to look forward into the future. Short stories, SF restrospectives and non-fictional introspectives, all in a neat little bundle.

dark matters book of death & debt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344191)

not a short story or work of fiction to rule us by any means http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=nazi%20zion%20book&sm=3 could be nominated as a manual on what to avoid in the 'future' as ours is here now?

If This Goes On (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about a year ago | (#46344197)

If This Goes On/Revolt in 2100 by Robert Anson Heinlein. (The backstory to that story is more concerning the question, where the First Prophet was Nehemiah Scudder, a backwoods preacher turned President (elected in 2012), then dictator (no elections were held in 2016 or later)

You can read Heinlein as adventure stories, you can read his stories as idea experiments and you can also read his stories as reflection on humanity.

Even though the world isn't what Heinlein depicted I still have a feeling that the real life Nehemiah Scudder is waiting around the corner.

Ballard (1)

unapersson (38207) | about a year ago | (#46344207)

JG Ballard's Billennium is an excellent story about the psychological ramifications of population growth.

Yevgeniy Zamyatin's "We" (1)

ikhider (2837593) | about a year ago | (#46344209)

That's the book 1984 is based off of. Project Itoh's "Genocidal Organ" is also an interesting read. Essays by Sven Birkerts, who tends to be skeptical about how we use technology to cultivate ideas as opposed to traditional means like the pen and paper. Interestingly, I am taking courses on interface design and my instructors continuously tell us to sketch ideas on paper FIRST before running to the software. Some in class have no idea what a pen and paper is. Stallman's 'Free Software Free Society' essays are very important, as is some of his cautionary sci-fi stories. Orwell wrote some essays about possible futures (not 1984), suggesting that humans in the future might be little more than brains in bottles. Stanislav's Lem, 'His Masters Voice' is a masterpiece, says a lot about humanity. I'd start there abouts...

Manna! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344219)

Most decidedly Manna by Marshall Brain

Re:Manna! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344241)

Slavery with a side of fries, Aussie style.

"Manna" by Marshall Brain (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#46344235)

Another suggestion: read "Manna" by Marshall Brain, a (free [marshallbrain.com] ) short story that brings up Marx' old question about the ownership of the means to production, in a society that is pretty much completely robotized. Even if you disagree with his view on how such a future will play out, it'll make for some interesting discussion.

Re:"Manna" by Marshall Brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344279)

Americans love drones! The future is now.

Back To The Future II (1)

AudioEfex (637163) | about a year ago | (#46344281)

I'd show them Back To The Future II - especially appropriate since the future they are visiting is 2015. As our world resembles 1985+smartphones more than the 2015 depicted in the film, it could help temper expectations and demonstrate that no matter what predictions one makes, (and let's face it, nothing in BTTF2 aside from flying cars was really that crazy to believe we would have in 25 years), the only thing certain is uncertainty. Obviously it's a fictional film and was not serious futurist prediction, but it would make the point and give something a little lighter to engage the students.

The Sun, The Genome and The Internet - F. Dyson (1)

Harry8 (664596) | about a year ago | (#46344291)

Forward looking, non-fiction. Will be wrong, obviously it will be wrong, but if any of these wrong future speculations are worth reading then Freeman Dyson's certainly is among them.

Charlie Stross? (1)

erikjan (1157147) | about a year ago | (#46344315)

I would consider Accelerando by Charlie Stross, whcih is, I think, a good complement to The diamond age. And maybe have a look at the video's of Robin Hanson for the more "over the top" futurism, very suitable for a critical review and to get to know the more crazy side of futurism (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvjCJE-N34k).

Re:Charlie Stross? (1)

oh2 (520684) | about a year ago | (#46344435)

Or, just go with "Halting state" and "Rule 34" by the same author, a lot of the predictions in those two books have actually come true just a few years after publication...

the virtual fall of mt. gox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344321)

very short story,, much hoopla surrounding a speed bump encountered as we race into our new clear options filled future. free the innocent stem cells. feed the millions of starving innocents, mostly kids. make ourselves upside right, so we can move on really far away from our history of genocidal hysteria...... we continue to lament we'll never do 'it' again as the results continue to never vary; rated horrific terror experience; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk9mV8qBiEk

Feed by MT Anderson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344329)

What happens if entertainment and connectivity are the only things that matters? What happens if we lose our humanity?


From Amazon "This brilliantly ironic satire is set in a future world where television and computers are connected directly into people's brains when they are babies. The result is a chillingly recognizable consumer society where empty-headed kids are driven by fashion and shopping and the avid pursuit of silly entertainment--even on trips to Mars and the moon--and by constant customized murmurs in their brains of encouragement to buy, buy, buy."

John Brunner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344331)

The Sheep Look Up is arguably the most preescient Science Fiction of the last 50 years. Stand on Zanzibar is also a classic. Both are relevent and extremely thought-provoking.

I also think "Snow Crash" would be a better choice than "The Diamond Age". Although both were good.

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They're Made out of Meat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344439)


Because the end goal should remain in sight.

Re:They're Made out of Meat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344451)

poor lonely meat

Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344447)

Have to include Vinge if you are discussing the Singularity. Interesting speculations on near future technology and education.

Stranger than fiction (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#46344457)

1984, Brave New World and Little Brother could be too close to comfort for the authorities, probably Foundation too. And I'd say that a lot of Philip K. Dick tales where the official vision of reality is put in doubt won't make it neither.

Asimov's The Feeling of Power [wikipedia.org] , Charles Stross Accelerando [antipope.org] , Vernon Vinge's Rainbow's End [wikipedia.org] and parts of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy [wikipedia.org] could give different hints on how the future could develop without too much controversy.

Can't recommend Stephenson's Diamond Age because for me is somewhat the past. It was written before wikipedia and internet, before than even poor children in 3rd world countries had an access to all of it. And those children prefer to access youtube videos and play candy crush over accessing wikipedia.

Paul Auster "In The Country of Lost Things" (1)

swb (14022) | about a year ago | (#46344461)

Not really science fiction but definitely a great novel about a dystopian future.

Right to Read (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344475)


The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344479)

The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect

http://localroger.com/prime-in... [localroger.com]

(it's free)

I thought it was completely amazing - have read it several times. It's about some folks who create an AI which becomes self-aware, and which then goes on to completely re-write the universe at a sub-atomic level.

Warning: contains graphic sex scenes, violence. Not for the faint of heart.

Re:The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46344503)

Warning: contains graphic sex scenes, violence

and violent sex scenes.

Thomas Disch "334" (2)

swb (14022) | about a year ago | (#46344499)

Another great dystopian future novel, with some science fiction.

Flatland is the gateway to new dimensions... (1)

andhar (194607) | about a year ago | (#46344529)

Flatland, by Edwin Abbot, is a short and amusing book that describes the lives and trials of two-dimensional beings. It's a social satire, but it also gives one the feeling that our personal realities, and indeed, our present day societies may not be (and should not be) the limit of what we can imagine and/or what we can achieve. For me it seems like the perfect stepping off point for an exploration of the future.

Most important: That futurism is nonsense (1)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#46344555)

As soon as everybody has understood that this is not something they are doing because it has any worth except as entertainment, you are alls set. Then use anything that is fun and interesting, but never forget that reading tea-leaves is about as scientific as futurism is.

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