Any Technology Sufficiently Advanced…
I was inspired to write this by a recent post on The Frailest Thing, a blog about the effects of emergent technology on society. (By the way, I heartily recommend it – the guy’s brilliant.) Michael Sacasas’s point is that we are already cyborgs. We can use our technology to do everything movie cyborgs can do. It just happens to be more convenient – not to mention carrying less risk of infection – if the technology is not implanted. And that got me to thinking about just how many real-world analogs there are to some of the magical things you find in fantasy stories.
- Flight: check.
- Ball of Fire: Given sufficient TNT, check.
- Summon: Also known as a pager.
- Artificial Hearts: Also known as artificial hearts. They don’t make you turn evil, though.
- Crystal Balls: Modern surveillance and communication technology can do pretty much everything crystal balls could.
- True Name: Your Social Security number comes pretty close.
- Monsters: Too many to count, unfortunately.
Now I’d like to convince you that horcruxes are real, sort of. So, I’ve got this laptop. I put all my stuff on it. Photos, music, recipes, manuscripts, lists of stuff I want to remember, letters from friends. I use it to work. I use it to play. Whenever I can’t recall something with my real brain, I just dip into Wikipedia. I’m on it right now. The keyboard interface is so familiar that I don’t even think about it anymore – it’s like there is no boundary between my thoughts and the data. I always know exactly where this laptop is and I take it everywhere. I guard it more jealously than any other possession I have. Is this starting to remind you of something?
What gets me concerned is how much of me is inside that thing. Obviously, I’ve backed up all my files (and so should you). But imagine, just imagine, if that laptop were to get destroyed somehow and I was idiot enough not to back up. …it would be bad. Not like Bolvangar kid bad, but bad. Conversely, if I died in an accident, my friends and family could recover a lot of my memories and personality by logging into the laptop.
I’m pretty sure other people feel this way about their electronic gadgets, too. So now what? Well, I can tell you, I’m going to keep storing that laptop in a safe place. And if I ever happen to meet a lanky teenager with a scar on his forehead, I’ll make sure he never, ever wants to kill me.