On Science Fiction
Arvin Wilson S. Alba, 2011-18060
What sets science fiction apart from the other genres of literature out there is its speculative nature. Characters are placed in situations that are impossible at the current state of technology, giving science fiction the power to ask even deeper, more meaningful questions regarding the nature of humanity.
This speculation has been put to good use by thousands of science fiction writers in their works. Questions such as What will happen when a people who has never experienced night suddenly encounter night fall? or What will happen when a nuclear explosion causes a genetic mutation that results in a monster? abound in the current science fiction canon. These questions are part of a continuing debate on science ethics, the possibilities technology has opened, and whether science and technology research is actually for the benefit of society. Thus, science fiction is a very good lens in figuring out society’s relationship with technology.
Because science and technology plays a crucial role in our current society, understanding our relationship with these is very important if we want to study society as a whole. From the optimistic outlook evident in the steampunk movement to today’s cynical worldview, this information is crucial if we are to promote science and technology as critical tools in solving humanity’s most pressing problems.
Current science fiction is once again making a turn to optimism after years of being highly cynical. The cynical outlook was borne from the destruction and human suffering science has indirectly caused during the last few wars. This led many people to devalue the intended benefits of science and technology, questioning the motives of scientists and sowing doubt in the truths they have uncovered. This sad state of science is dangerous, because science is one of the most surefire ways in combatting humankind’s biggest problems. Mistrust in science will diminish its impact and reduce its effectiveness.
It is thus heartening to see current society’s sudden embrace of the wonders of technology. This current euphoria is probably the result of the recent information technology revolution and its empowering effects to humankind. Scientists and engineers from all over the world are now using the fruits of years of research to solve big problems such as poverty and disease. We may now be facing the utopia of a disease-less, war-less society, brought about by advanced computational power and the ease of connection and correspondence.
Still, society’s doubts remain, as evidenced by statistics in belief in global warming. We still have to fight for further acceptance of the merits of the scientific method, because science and technology is the key to a better society.