This is about dystopian future scenarios. In a dystopia, the creator of the dystopia is imagining a future power structure by describing primarily the negative consequences of mass social change over time.
This is about how any government's main goal is to maintain power for the government. We think we have it right with a democracy, because that means the "we the people" are the ones who are maintaining power in ourselves.
In 1984, George Orwell imagined a scenario in which governments had become extremely adept at doing that which they desire most- keeping power. Whether through food scarcity, propaganda, mass paranoia, police power, or outright torture, governments will do the most they can to retain power. This includes the absolute statistical necessity that some of these actions will no doubt be illegal in the eyes of the international community.
In A Brave New World, Huxley described a future in which science has become the main method of making social and moral decisions. Social connections are created through the manipulation of the gestational circumstances. Chemical cocktails substitute for the kinds of human experience which strengthen our wills. If things aren't going well, you take a chemical vacation for a few days and things will be better when you return. Real human emotion and connection are thought to be outrageous. The arts are strictly forbidden, except, of course, to those in the upper class. Isn't that the way these always go?
The Mad Max movies depicted a future described by the Rand Paul libertarians as, "Free!" When asked about the Mad Max movies, Rand Paul said, "Yep, that's a great future there. Those power mad killers are well within their rights to be trying to kill wild children and loners from out of town!"
The writers of the Bible envisioned a future in which you would be under constant surveillance, you will be held to an excruciatingly long list of rules which would make anybody paranoid about unknowingly breaking one of the rules, and thus losing your privilege of staying alive for eternity in a future world where your father never leaves you and you never get to grow up to face the real world on your own.
So I had been trying to figure out some good dystopian stories that are centered around an overly corporatized world. Rollerball springs to mind. Wall-E, for sure.
I had a different idea for a cool story about a dystopian future.
I awarded myself a fancy certificate a few years ago for reading a bunch of books about dystopian futures. It was really fancy. I'll show it to you sometime.
There are a few important criteria that a dystopian future must contain. Here is what I discovered:
- Power structure- it could be religious, secular, totalitarian, communist, democratic, militaristic, clan based...
- Drug - The drug is part of the story, but is not necessarily from the power structure. It could exist outside of the power structure.
- Population control- Scientific, religious, Democratic, militaristic...
- Naturally, the story is the struggle of an individual against a system that is in full and total control of nearly every single aspect of the lives of its citizens.
The Power Structure I imagine is one in which Like Minded Groups (LMG) form around core issues. so within a LMG, you will have many areas of very strong connections, but each of those individuals will have weaker connections to outside groups. These outside connections might actually begin to pull away some members of other groups. This would lead to a scenario in which the power structure is formed out of these tight connections, but the sizes of the groups would increase or decrease over time. As a result, the struggle for power among these LMG's would lead to a desire to create lattices of individuals with incredibly high connection ratios. This essentially means that real life people would begin to behave like the social network structures that we see on the internet right now. Basically, you would have high concentrations of more and more pure minded ideological individuals. People might try to keep their group as pure as possible.
Imagine an undulating mass of size changing blobs with multiple connections leading out from themselves to other groups. The primary goal being to maintain power, these groups would attempt to self-enforce their connections, and they would attempt to get all individuals to adhere to a particular set of connections. This prevents undesired connections to outside masses. All of these blobs would be simultaneously losing and gaining individuals into their spheres of influence. It would look a little like a population map.
In most dystopian stories, there is some sort of drug that is introduced as a means of mass control- Victory Gin and chocolate are meted out to the poor souls in 1984, while inhabitants of Huxley's future take vacations from life with a drug called Soma. In Logan's Run, the wild children on the outskirts of the domed city would use a drug called "Muscle." Muscle would speed up your body movements, but probably at a cost to your health.
A movie called Existenz (Not Extenze!) described a world in which people would connect themselves to a sort of bio-electric mass in order to gain access to a cyber existence. I'm thinking that idea is a sort of digital drug that is conceivable for sometime in the not too distant future.
As time goes on, memory increases at a consistent rate. It's called Moore's Law, and it says that memory will double every 18th months. Just like with anything on the internet, once you drill down further you discover that it may not be so simple and that future circumstances may not be predictable. Anyway, at some point it is conceivable that we will be able to upload the human conscience to an entirely digital existence. Cory Doctorow describes this as "Digital Singularity."
Recreational drug use has one specific goal, and that is to alter the reality of the user. The users of this drug will be altering their consciousness in the same way that a supernova is a variable star. This drug will not augment your current reality, it will completely replace it with a different reality.
What I imagine as the drug of choice for my dystopian world is a digital opiate of some sort. I project this future to be at the very edge of human use of digital singularity. So the digital drug will be taken by momentarily connecting yourself to a mass digital network of human consciousness data streams. These would be highways of digital information of millions from millions of people who are leaving the skin and bones existence behind for a few seconds or minutes. The pleasure is derived at the amazing shared consciousness and communal spirit that is felt by the user when clicking in for this drug.
The method of population control could be connected to the digital drug. It would be conceivable that the ruling cadre would be able to seize someone's consciousness if they were to enter an online digital communal area. The police apparatus could actually seize the consciousness of the user. If they seize their consciousness, the person would be unable to disconnect and would either become a vegetable, or they would die as a result of starvation and dehydration. So the authorities would be able to manipulate undesirable elements into "clicking in," and then it would be ruled a result of illegal uplinking of one's consciousness. I'm sure the CIA never ever thought of doing that sort of thing, right? The power structure here would be either tacitly allowing the digital drug to remain available for their own purposes, or they could also be actively maintaining the availability of the digital mind access.
And to wrap it all up in a bow, you throw in some hero cycle stuff. You get your reluctant hero who has the misfortune of being "chosen" to undertake some task to achieve some goal that he or she would really rather fucking forget about. Later on the hero may find out that there is the possibility of romance, but the hero may also continue to carry out a mission without actually feeling that he or she is actually making the choices about it. At some point, it's the low point for our hero. So then there's a training montage in which the hero attains new levels of skill and enlightenment. The hero will also face the real possibility of transcending the master after completing the amazingly difficult and challenging undertaking!
You may also witness the one billionth resurrection story! In this meat/digital existence, it can only mean that the hero dies and is resurrected as the first completely digital consciousness! This will no doubt lead to a digital heaven! It could even end with recreation of the Pieta, just like a bunch of other movies or stories!
I really like dystopian future stories. I think they provide us with an interesting way of applying our innate ability to identify motives and predict behaviors of other humans.
The tendency humans have is to seek out like minded individuals to share our lives with. This has been made magnitudes easier through the advent of social networking. We are already seeing the onset of these massive aggregations of digital selves in places like this website. Admittedly, I was partially influenced by the tendency that individuals have to drift into like minded groups on this site. Heh.