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Problems with extrapolation

Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, May 10, 2024

There are always lots of issues with trying to work out what will happen in the future based on current events and current tech, this is why very little SciFi is predictive of the future, unless it's about social trends or politics and even then it's a lucky draw. This was really brought home to me with all the dumb things people are saying based on what they see in the Ukraine/Russian conflict.

Two of the main things that everyone “knows” now is that drone warfare is here to stay and tanks are useless because shoulder-fired missiles can easily kill them. These two ideas are based on massive assumptions and very specific situations that can change very fast and wont likely exist again. Drones can only easily be used in warfare because of cheap mass-production in China and external people helping with the costs. That supply line can very simply be terminated because the Chinese government controls its economy and if they do something like invade Taiwan they'll have reason to take that action. Plus the funds of external donators are not unlimited.

The issue with man portable AT systems VS tanks is the relative cost. Neither Ukraine nor any other country aside from the USA and some other select places could ever afford to use those anti-tank weapons like they're being used in the current conflict, they're just far too expensive and take WAYYYY too long to replenish and supply, the only reason they can be used in the way they are is because they were gifted by the richest county on earth. It's far more economical to invest in tanks still because they have multiple uses and decades of life VS shoulder fire weapons that have a single use and a very short shelf life, not to mention the cost: even the cheapest effective modern AT systems can cost a significant portion of a full on Russian T-92 tank, especially considering its work life over time.

These are just two good examples of where current events are wrongly used to predict future trends because people don't consider the full reasons behind things. classic Sci-Fi like A Brave New World, Logan's Run, 1984, A Handmaid's Tale, Soylent Green (Make Room!), A Clockwork Orange, and Fahrenheit 451, are more concerned with extreme versions of social and political situations. They don't try to predict the future but rather extrapolate certain trends towards their ultimate conclusions and in doing so reflect certain truths that will always have SOME measure of relatability.

I think The Simpsons is the only piece of fiction that has a consistent really good track record for future predictions?!
What are your fave bits of predictive Sci-Fi? Or predictions that never happened? -Like silver onesies and flying cars…

-Ozoneocean still doing silly newsposts because I haven't sorted some one to do these regularly.

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Ozoneocean at 8:00PM, May 12, 2024

@Bravo- That sort of thing has always been the case in that you can kill a battleship by raking its deck with "small calibre" 6 inch shells... Even though it has 16 inches of hardened armour in the important places if you could get close enough to absolutely pelt it you can clear the decks of all the people and important gear, killing most of the officers, destroying gun direction and ranging etc. You can kill any heavily armoured person if you aim for the face, no matter how good the body armour, any fighter jet can be taken down if you can shoot it in the right place with small arms, any attack helicopter... But that's all really hard to do. You're so right in that it's crew training plus an endless arms race of oneupmanship

bravo1102 at 7:32AM, May 11, 2024

And the dirty little secret they don't tell you? You can disable the optics on any armored vehicle with a rifle. Shatter all that fancy sighting gear with small arms and they're no more good than their eyes. A lot of those tanks killed in Ukraine were killed because the fancy gear wasn't working or the crews didn't know how to work it. All kinds of dirty little ways to fight. That's why the Russians haven't won. The fancy stuff takes out the fancy stuff and whatever is left gets ground down by little guys who do their job well. So the defensive has once more ascended over the offensive. So we have a slugfest until someone builds up the resources for a breakthrough.

bravo1102 at 7:21AM, May 11, 2024

PaulEberhardt got one question science fiction is based on. The other is "If this goes on..." an extension of "what if..." but taking a trend to an extreme. Remember one of the first stories about people totally cared for by automation was written in 1909. But most classic pulp space travel SF had scientists still using slide rules along with navigational electronic brains. Forecasting the future is no where near 100%. Star Trek TNG saw the iPad with the personal PADDs but nothing like a smartphone.

bravo1102 at 7:13AM, May 11, 2024

And the first hand held anti tank weapons were cheap and disposable. LMAO 🤣 Shaped warhead, rocket and a tube to launch it from. We've totally lost that. Might as well just use tanks to fight tanks like in various future war stories like Bolo and Ogre. Every time they come up with a new toy to spell the end of tanks FOREVER, they add a new toy to the tank to make it to increase survivability. You want to kill tanks? Train really good tank crews. Reservist armor unit just took the tank gunnery trophy.

Ozoneocean at 11:30PM, May 10, 2024

@dpat57 - my fave Fredrick Phil book was The World at the End of Time. That's the ultimate future prediction! It inyrocided me to the concept of plasma creatures that inhabit stars and the idea that alient life doesn't have to be narrowly defined as a mammalian analogue or some human variation with a nose ridge. The story postulates what happens after the heat death of the universe? It accelerates humans there because a colony seltke a planet near a sun that is actually a sun sized plasma follows the life of one of the original colonists who keeps getting frozen in stasis a reawakened hundreds of years later and also the sun creature who is is a seperate battle with his fellow creatures and ends up accelerating his star system close to the speed of light... It's a complex story but it spans millennia.

Ozoneocean at 11:20PM, May 10, 2024

Star trek is an interesting one. They came up with the idea of phasers that can stun, which companies chose to copy with the idea of a "taser". We have video calling like them, and communicators - but that tech was actually envisaged in the 1920s and is pretty logical. Their tricorders are still pretty amazing though. No Ile phones WANT to be tricorders but aren't. Also things like hypsrays and dermal regenerators. I wish we had that! Transportors will never be a thing... But we could probably do the replicators.

marcorossi at 10:33AM, May 10, 2024

Although it is not exactly a prediction, when I wasa kid and watched Star Trek, I wondered: if they have an intelligent computer that knows everything, why do they even a captain for? Now, if we think of the Star Trek computer as an LMS, there is an answer.

dpat57 at 9:33AM, May 10, 2024

The idea of an actual thinking robot that can figure stuff out and be left to get on with things on its own is still an astronomical distance into the future. All we have right now is crude mock-ups (albeit sometimes with pretty Japanese girl faces) that can barely walk and talk at the same time. Which is kind of disappointing for 2024. Asimov had such high hopes.

PaulEberhardt at 9:02AM, May 10, 2024

Btw. a good candidate for my favourite predictive SciFi is a 1984 novel by Kevin O'Donnell Jr., called ORA:CLE. If there was any justice it should have got a huge comeback during the Covid lockdown, because it asks what life would be like if everyone was mostly confined to their own four walls all their lives - and got it almost frighteningly right, as well as today's online media landscape! I just don't get why it sunk that much into obscurity. Then some strong candidates were provided by the great Frederic Pohl. Of course you'll have to read the predictions a bit selectively. Overpopulation is a problem, even if not as bad as he makes it, we haven't found alien tech yet and don't have a regular transportation service within the solar system, but we do have the internet, a globalised economy and AI chatbots, and surgical methods, transplantations have advanced a lot, and illegal organ trade is a thing. He saw all that coming in the 1970s. That's quite a good hit rate, isn't it?

PaulEberhardt at 8:59AM, May 10, 2024

The tricky thing with predictions is that we usually can extrapolate but not really include anything we don't know about yet. Carl Sagan famously compared attempts to communicate with aliens via huge radio telescopes with a hunter-gatherer tribe tasked with communicating with other tribes on other islands: their best method so far of getting messages across a distance is drum signals, so what they do is build a huge drum in a valley the entire tribe can jump on... But what if one of their drummers - just for kicks, not even as a serious proposition - comes up with a song of a magical conch shell you can just talk into and hear the reply from? Then you've got science fiction and can later say this drummer accurately predicted the radio.

PaulEberhardt at 8:32AM, May 10, 2024

I usually think of Science Fiction as a genre that asks "What if..." rather than trying to predict anything. What if we could travel to the stars? What if mankind suddenly came to its senses and focuses on trying to actually improve instead of just getting better at bashing each other's heads in? What if we found a way to cool down Earth and bring mammoths back to life? What if the ancestors of a feudal society with a fondness for apostrophes used biological engineering to breed dragons as riding steeds that can destroy a dangerous parasite from space with their fire breath? When creating "What if..." scenarios, realism is secondary, so are predictions. Still I'm always amazed at how much a lot of old SciFi got right. It's probably because these authors looked at the problems to solve rather than the possible solutions. After all, new-fangled inventions like the internet become popular for a reason, some even get created for a reason.

fallopiancrusader at 7:11AM, May 10, 2024

I know that the fashion trends I predicted in my comic, Girlsquad X, will come to pass exactly as written!

marcorossi at 3:56AM, May 10, 2024

The problem with the future is that it didn't happen yet, so we can't be sure of it. I see sci-fi not as a way to speculate on the future, but more like a fantasy with stricter rules, and often more "sociological" in its interest than fantasy proper. I have a lot of fun with sci-fi written in the past, that we already surpassed on the timeline (e.g. one of my favourite franchises, Patlabor, is sen in the futuristic year 1999). In 2020, when I was locked home due to the pandemic, I played tabletop RPGS with friends via discord, and we played Cyberpunk 2020 in 2020. We observed that the reality of the lockdown was quite cyberpunk in itself.

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