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Predict the future with Science Fiction

Sogeti Labs
July 24, 2020

Ilium by Dan Simmons is a great example of a SF-novel with no end. Without giving away too much of the plot the story ranges from the Greek gods to quantum teleportation and different versions of Earth and Mars. While reading this book I dreamt away to future civilization. Here on earth on short term timelines the book as way over the top. On the other hand, it helps to imagine a complete over the top situation for building a future outlook. It can help you gain insight into what new business you should invest in or what service can be a success. You might get the first ideas for the design of a new version of an existing product.

Sci-fi thinking with near infinite data transfer speed

Let me give you an example of how this works if you combine science fiction thinking with this day and age events that might influence the future. Recently I saw the news item on a new speed record on data transfer. Apparently, it is possible to transfer data with a speed of 44.2 Terabits per second. This is not only in a laboratory setting but a real field trial using over 75 kilometers of optic fiber cable. This is part sci-fi and part real. What if we push this a bit? Let’s create a world where this speed of data is common and wireless data communication is in order of magnitude of 100Gb/s. All our products around us would change. Even the way we work with all these products would change. With this as a starting point, we can continue our thought experiment.

With these kinds of data transfer, no product would need local storage anymore. Aside from connection stability, all data would be available instantly. Products can become smaller, more energy-efficient, and much smarter. All data in the world is available everywhere. We can create a series of supercomputers around the world that do all the calculations for us and we would only need receiving devices that can give instructions to this global intelligence and data source. For example, the concept of smart cities would be “easy” to implement in this way. No more difficult data collection and edge computing are needed.

Going over-the-top with brain copies in space

Take this one step further and using a bit of the story of the book Ilium where I started this story. We can store all our data and our supercomputers in space. Create a series of satellites that have huge amounts of capacity (can be distributed over smaller satellites like Elon Musk’s Starlink project). Next to that we have supercomputers in space, so we got our cooling system sorted. Energy is of course of the solar kind. With all that in place we would have everything in place to make data and computing power available anywhere in the world.

If you would take this further steps, you can dream of creating a copy of the brain in one of those space storage units. It might even create some form of artificial superintelligence in this way.

Sci-fi-to-extreme lets you see a glimpse of the future

Maybe I am getting a bit carried away here. Back to the starting point of taking a situation and sci-fi it to extremes. It can help you to see a bit in the future. It can help you to come up with new ideas, new services, new products. Sci-fi has proven to be a good source of predicting the future ( Star Treks “flip-phone”, Iron Mans flying suit, The Jetsons smart watch, fully electric submarines by Jules Verne or antidepressants described already in “a brave new world”). The funny thing is that we can name even more sci-fi situations that never happened. We could also say they have not YET happened J.

Use sci-fi thinking to free your mind a bit. To step out of the impossibilities that are too easy to put out there. It might get you a great product! If not, you at least had fun in the process.

What is your sci-fi vision?

Let me close this story with the highly recommend book Ilium that started it all for me. In the book, it is possible to quantum teleport throughout the galaxy. Let me know what your trail of thought looks like when this is a reality!

About the author

SogetiLabs gathers distinguished technology leaders from around the Sogeti world. It is an initiative explaining not how IT works, but what IT means for business.


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