The idea we have for a dystopian future is deeply influenced by mainstream sci-fi we’ve been exposed in the last decades.
Let’s try to overlook Blade Runner, Planet of the Apes, Fahrenheit 451, Brazil, Ghost in the Shell, 1984, Akira, Matrix and any other classic which shaped in our minds that idea of dystopia.
And focus on the elements that break the equilibrium of the pre-existing world, the trigger for those narrations.
What incident unleashes a dystopia in classic sci-fi novels and movies?
Taking for granted that sci-fi (and dystopian sci-fi in particular) is at its top when it projects on tomorrow what the audience already perceive as potentially distressing nowadays, we can identify these narration breaking points:
- A failure in the political system which leads to a totalitarian regime. This could originate from war, economic crisis, pandemic emergency, climate change.
The common archetype in literature was nazi-fascism or stalinism, now is more like a corporation dictatorship based on technology as the tool for mass control and obedience.
- A preponderance of science over ethics which brings humanity to manipulate living beings. This is the case of human-machine relationship sci-fi, A.I., androids, cloning and the analysis on the final purpose of the livings and their surrogates.
- A jump forward of evolutionism which introduce a superior homo sapiens, both for natural or artificial reasons (pollution, radioactivity).
- A nuclear disaster or the rising of an environmental modification able to affect the access to basic resources and modify human structure. Or an unsolved pandemic.
- A modern and more recent sci-fi based on the growth of economic and social inequality under capitalist system (like we’ve seen in the brazilian Netflix series 3%)
If we analyze these 5 ingredients and take a look around we discover that kind of future has already come or it’s coming very soon.
No flying cars, no Moon colonies or other elements the old sci-fi predicted in our decade.
Donald Trump’s election and the deranged policies he’s carrying on suggest, even to the most non political citizens, that making serious harm to the world future is not so hard. Being an incompetent vulgar boor is enough.
If Trump is in charge, Europe awaits with fear France and Germany presidential election with the serious chance of the rising of far right parties. While Poland, Hungary, Ukraine are already ruled by extremists. Not to mention Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
Ingredients for a dystopian society are ready to be baked. Maybe the risk is not imminent nor global. But global control is at levels never seen before. Think about Prism and the links to the major world companies like Google, Facebook, Apple: mass profiling and surveillance are today the main issues regarding civil rights.
Things go a little bit intricate if we add to this current scenario 5 of the previously mentioned elements: biotechnologies and genetics, nuclear threat, plausible pandemic, global warming.
In other words those are the modifying facts, those are the triggers used as narration incident in dystopian sci-fi stories.
Public opinion tends to underestimate the problem until the situation irreparably deteriorates. Just like it happened in Fukushima nuclear disaster.
And speaking about nuclear threat, we have to mention nuclear weapons. One of those elements the end of Cold War seemed to have vanished is the huge number of nukes stocked across the world. Which are still at their place instead.
There are up to 4300 working nukes today, even just one is able to destroy life as we know it. Many are under Donald Trump control (who recently declared USA should build more), others in Putin’s hands. But not everybody knows that Pakistan and Israel have their own. Not only Kim Jong Un. To them the power of making Akira or Kenshiro a real nightmare.
Despite nuclear dismantle of the last two decades, nuclear technology has gone further: disarmament is not the sign of a better and more pacific world but the sign of the better efficiency of the single bomb.
Radical technologies have made their debut too, as seen in the second Iraqi War. Hormone bombs and other non lethal chemical weapons, the introduction of basic exoskeletons.
In the meanwhile medical science gives no clues about the development of human cloning programs, which seems to be idle since Dolly Sheep cloning in 1997 and the adventures of korean M.D. Hwang Woo-Suk.
It’s hard to think a so controversial branch is not proceeding off the radars.
We won’t send replicants “off the shoulder of Orion” but some laboratory freak is already born somewhere. At least we’re already able to fabricate some spare part.
It’s for sure instead the use of gene doping in sports. We’ve evidence of that practice since Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Micro genetics altering that enhance stamina and injure recovery.
Or the chinese programme of genetic selection applied since the early 70s which involved the reproductive combination of male and female athletes in order to give birth to a generation of flawless soldiers. One of the examples of this manipulation is the former NBA player Yao Ming.
Yet another impelling and tangible menace is looming over the world: global warming.
Acc0rding to U.N. data it will destroy the equilibrium of the human society, reducing the primal resources availability. Though someone stills denies it, our planet faces a critical century: human and animal life depends on how we manage to stop this temperature increase.
And with temperature and population increase also grows the chance of new pandemic diseases as seen in just 10 years: ebola, zyka, sars, avian influenza, swine flu and so on.
We’re now at the dawn of a A.I. era and after this overview of human’s calamities we could say the ingredients for a dystopian nightmare are all ready on the table. Provided that we as a species don’t commit suicide first now it’s very important not to give Trump the recipe for these ingredients.
Apart from the annoying voice and some dumbness, by now SIRI has more chances to do better than a so called human intelligence named Donald Trump.
* Comic strip on Trump was originally published by Los Angeles Times in 2015. Future, in the end, is so predictable.
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