The science fiction of things – With respect to ‘The Internet of Things’
What better time to launch this journalistic adventure than in the middle of a global pandemic whilst tossed about in the rough seas of claims and counterclaims from conspiracists and supposed charlatans.
Where is truth? What does it look like, smell like and feel like? Do we even really need truth? This is where science fiction comes to liberate us like a Saint Bernard rescue dog in a snowstorm.
This global scenario has already been performed in films like Outbreak (1995), 28 Days Later (2002), and Contagion (2011), preparing us for the reality that is upon us. Whatever you do, don’t question the validity of these entertainment movies in the present context, though. They are ‘non-fiction’, not real. You can, however, approach the hideous beast by coating it with a soothing blanket of science fiction and propose silly ideas commencing with the proposition ‘what if…’
This is what science fiction can accomplish. Looking at the undesirable through a long telephoto zoom lens and place the ‘consensus reality’ at a distance on the horizon or provide an extreme closeup. We don’t have to believe its message, though, because it is, after all, only a daft science fiction story designed to entertain.
So how do ‘fictional’ previews of a current event have anything to do with the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Science Fiction of Things?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary calls IoT “the intersection of gathering data and leveraging it” (first clue). This global sensor-aware network would have been considered science fiction a few years ago (second clue).
The IoT is a commerce-driven data-gathering network. Its billions (soon to be whatever comes after billions) of sensors are embedded into human interaction. It performs the same function as science fiction movies, desensitising overwhelming concepts into pleasant moments of movie-going fun and excitement.
IoT is promoted as a ‘cool’ social-technical necessity, hiding transhumanism by wrapping it in entertainment. But, at the same time, it offers an ‘invaluable service’ to oblivious humans. Well, maybe not everyone is unaware, conspiracy alarmists know better, but no sensible person will believe them; because such notions are, you guessed it, Science Fiction.
The science fiction of things can and does address any issue or controversy, moving effortlessly across genre and story with dreams of utopia or, more usually, dystopia. It provides a portal through which we travel to wondrous places while innocent in the moment with our avoidance of critical thinking. Placing reality at arm’s length, and safe in the knowledge that this is not ‘real’. We don’t see it as a threat because, like the IoT, Science Fiction is presented here for your entertainment and convenience. Oh, sure, some of it is confronting, but we can turn it off, can’t we?
Science Fiction is everywhere and embedded into everything; no, you cannot turn off The Science Fiction of Things. There is no off switch. It is here to stay.
You have your instructions; now obey. Make it so!