What Came Next

Not science fiction

When asked to imagine 100 years into the future, the first place your mind might go is to the new technology: what do we use to communicate? Are there chips implanted into our eyes? How common are personal robots and drones? What medical breakthroughs have we stumbled upon? Have we populated the solar system?

Science fiction has trained us to imagine the future first through the lens of technological advancement.

Perhaps it has limited our imagination.

Let’s travel 100 years into the past. We flag down a woman walking down 8th Avenue. We have a story to tell her about the future. We’re short on time (the time control device really eats up our phone’s battery), so we tell her two things:

  1. In one hundred years, we will have created a device that instantaneously enables you to send photographs and messages to anyone else in the world. Everybody will have this device, and it will fit in the palm of her hand.
  2. We will elect our first female president, the successor to our first black president.

Which statement will inspire more curiosity? More excitement? Which statement will compel her to see her present day in a new light? To change her mind? To take action?

Again, imagine 100 years into the future. Science fiction might be the least radical lens through which we may envision the world-to-come.