14.15: Technology

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about magic systems in our worldbuilding. It’s time to talk about  science and technology in that same way. This has been a staple (perhaps the defining staple) of science fiction since before “science fiction” was a word.

At risk of opening the “where do you get your ideas” can of worms, this episode covers a little bit of where we get our ideas, and where you might get—and subsequently develop—some more of yours.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson


Go read Wired (or some other science and technology periodical, whether online or in print)

Feed, by M.T. Anderson

6 thoughts on “14.15: Technology”

  1. I love the idea that a technology designed by a lovely teenager is shaping adult interaction in the digital age. What other hidden emotional biases lurk beneath the surface?

  2. I have to admit, I was very disappointed hearing Brandon call Harrison Bergeron his favorite sci-fi story. I remember first reading it back in middle school and thinking, “wow, that was an incredibly stupid story,” and then coming back to it later as an adult, with more mature eyes and tastes, and *still* finding it incredibly stupid. It’s not a “I’m glad this never happened” story like 1984; it’s a “it’s an insult to my intelligence that the author tries to convince me it would ever be possible” story, like The Cold Equations. So I’m a bit mystified as to what an author as intelligent as Brandon sees in it.

    OTOH I really liked the bit Dan pointed out about Silicon Valley tech muckety-mucks warning about AI doing the same abusive things as Silicon Valley tech companies do at a much bigger scale, and how that reveals what they’re thinking about. I’ve observed something interesting along those same lines.

    As far as I can tell, people (mature adults, at least; children are different) are only ever truly afraid of two things: bad experiences that they have personally had–or that happened to someone close enough to them to be part of their personal identity–and the dark desires of their own hearts being used against them. Those two things are “real” to them, easy to understand, whereas other dangers, no matter how objectively real, how rational it may be to worry about them or take precautions against them, they will dismiss or discount as genuine threats because it doesn’t have the same visceral feel of real-ness to them.

  3. This week, Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab crunched technology for stories. From the interplay of war and technology in World War I into the future, landing on Mars, and forensic science, they help us understand how to use technology for stories, for young people, and old people, too. Even technology as metaphor, MacGuffin, or conflict. Take a look at the gears turning, in the transcript available now in the archives.

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