Futurology/Science

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Gene Roddenberry[edit]

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The two most popular perceptions of humanity's future are: the cyclical pattern envisioned in Gene Roddenberry's tales of sailing the stars in place of the oceans; and the maturation pattern envisioned in Ray Kurzweil's books about how macro-evolution keeps building upon itself to create ever increasingly complex patterns through stages of atomic organization, DNA formation, compounding neural patterns, the building of technology, and the approaching merger of technology and human intelligence. Roddenberry's vision of the future claims to be science fiction while Kurzweil's claims to be science. In order for methods of Futurology to be reliable, we have to quantify the difference.

In his 2001 essay, The Law of Accelerating Returns, [3], Ray Kurzweil proposed a generalization of Moore's law that forms the basis of many people's beliefs regarding a "Technological Singularity". Moore's law describes an exponential growth pattern in the complexity of integrated semiconductor circuits. Kurzweil extended this to include technologies from far before the integrated circuit to future forms of computation. He declared that, whenever a technology approaches some kind of a barrier, a new technology will be invented to allow us to cross that barrier. He predicts that such paradigm shifts will become more and more common as time goes on. He believes that the exponential growth of Moore's law will continue beyond the use of integrated circuits into technologies that will lead to the "Singularity", which he defines as a technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history.

Harry Turtledove[edit]

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Harry Norman Turtledove (born June 14, 1949), is a historian and prolific novelist who has written historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction works. He is probably the best-known and most popular author of the genre of alternate history.

Turtledove has been dubbed "The Master of Alternative History". Within that genre he is known both for creating original Alternative History scenarios such as survival of the Byzantine Empire and for giving a fresh and original treatment to themes previously dealt with by many others, such as the victory of South in the American Civil War and of Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

A recurring theme in Turtledove's fiction is the realistic description of war from the point of view of ordinary soldiers. Turtledove's soldiers are usually depicted sympathetically, though far from uncritically - with the same character who perpetrated acts of appalling cruelty in one episode shown under different circumastances to be capable of compassion and generosity. The above is true also for soldiers fighting for the side which is the clear villain of the piece, such as Nazi Germany and its numerous Alternative History and Fantasy analogues in Turtledove's fiction. His depiction of war always includes civilians whose life is impacted as well as soldiers on the battlefield itself.

Even manifest arch-villains, such as people involved in genocide, are hardly ever cardboard villains in Turtledove's books. In some series the reader can follow, step by step from book to book, the slippery slope by which an originally decent character gets to the point of committing mass murder.

Turtledove's books are almost invariably written in the third person, and the omniscient author is always present to a degree more characteristic in 19th century literature than at most other contemporary works. Turteldove often goes to the trouble of explaining to the reader details of a historical, linguistic or technological theme which are relevant to the scene but are clearly either unknown to the viewpoint characters in the situation described or taken by them for granted.