Article re-posted from June 24, 2014
As the title suggests, this post is a take on future-vision and how I think we should think up some more variety in entertainment, especially since I believe the ‘settled ideas’ are probably very far from what it likely will be.
To the ones bewildered by the idea that we could believe something today and it may be ridiculously wrong tomorrow, I present you the future vision of the year 2000 by people in 1900:
What is interesting other than the obvious ‘omg’, is that they understood the core concept, which is correct; we do have individual flying machines (jetpacks), we do have flying ‘coaches’ (planes) and we do have visual telephony (smartphones), it’s just that they used their present-day technological know-how and design as basis for how it would work.
This I think is also the case with current science-fiction design in that they either for the audiences-sake (fear for a lack of familiarity) or due to the same flaws in their present-day mechanical design thinking get the general idea right, but the execution will be off-the-mark. More on this later.
Technology goes so fast, and with China, India and Latin America drastically increasing in wealth it will speed up even more. One of the things overlooked with regards to future-vision entertainment is that bio-chemical and Nano-technological innovations are going to be the next ‘giant leaps forward’ which will shake the very foundations of our current-generation use-of-materials in engineering (step out of the comfort-zone of ‘Nano bots on top of regular sci-fi’ and see how incredible our every-day life will change on all fronts with innovations like these).
Now let’s get to the fun part, and brainstorm on how things could work in the future:
I believe the 20th-21st century thought of metal-based mechanical engineering for starships is flawed.
It’s cool from our current-generations perspective which btw might also be one of the reasons to keep doing it this way; people are familiar with metal machines and find them cool; yet I don’t like limiting ourselves with such claims, as who would have guessed smartphones would go from ‘small and handy to take around’ to ‘giant tablet-like devices that rip your pants’.
Anyways, moving on; metal is flawed as it’s crude, not-flexible, needs upkeep, expensive, etc.
Bio materials will be much more suitable for many reasons, especially when genetically engineered to our needs. Not only will the material be stronger, but it will also have benefits like be able to deform, as well as ‘repair itself’. The remarkable thing of biological entities is that they often have the ability to ‘heal’ and adapt, which is a great advantage over bolting plates of steel together.
What makes it even better is that biological beings can ‘grow’ and so you won’t need to construct a spaceship, you literally ‘grow it’ to your liking… (Hence the title Bonzai space).
Imagine the advantages of not having to ship 250-containers of metal into space to construct a small station, but instead you fly up a jar of goo which grows into a giant spaceship needing only a bio-fuel made up of simple ingredients.
Take that idea and now you can form spaceships of any shape/size and more importantly, that can adapt / change / grow / shrink.
One of the things that is becoming increasingly cliché is this idea of ‘metal-grey interior’ design of space ships. There are grunge and smooth variants but mostly they are all based on the same general idea that hasn’t changed since the sci-fi movies of the 70s.
I understand the idea in many of them is that ‘military vessels won’t invest much in interior design because of safety / warfare’ yet I think even that idea is wrong when it comes to the future. I think we’re discovering more and more today that even the subtle psychological aspects of people in warfare is crucial to pay attention to.
Keeping the troops on high morale is important, and I think in a desolate deep and dark space all kinds of additional psychological issues will pop up, which means careful interior decoration is crucial to ensure people/soldiers/whomever get proper morale and can last long
People are a product of their environment, and as so long as people grow up on earth they will feel comfortable with things that ‘look/smell/feel like earth’.
That said certain traits like the lust for large open areas (landscapes) is a genetic trait but let’s discuss that some other time.
The movie Elysium had a more true vision of future space-stations in my opinion, albeit it was based on a 70s future-vision design:
I believe, at least for the first generations of space-vessels earth-like interiors with lots of color and familiarity will be created to ensure happiness in space, even in combat-ships, as if you take the above case for bio-engineered materials-instead-of-metal than warfare should not be a reason to have it any other way; and considering warfare is becoming increasingly digitized anyways, ‘disciplinary reasons’ for such design are also outdated and can actually do more harm than good to the ‘internet soldiers of the future’.
Now just to throw in some madness; the fun starts once we ‘defeat death’ so to say; once humanity achieves immortality of some sort (or extreme long life), you will see people ‘embedded in old design’ -> in a way progress needs generations to die in order for new generations to adopt new things.
If the 1900s people were around today, most would likely not feel very comfortable with our world. For example lets take smartphone-design; they’d probably actually prefer a design that looked like the crazy telephones we saw earlier in this article: in a way if you’d design a smartphone to look like a 1950s phone with the interface modeled and functioning similarly, you’d probably have an interesting product for your grandparents generation who hasn’t adopted modern variants.
This not to knock old people, contrary to that, I feel I’m also stuck in an 80s / 90s / early 2000s generation of keyboards and mice; it’s a generational thing; you are the product of your generation and intellectually form patterns discovering things using foundations built during your childhood/adult life.
Now extrapolate this to future design when people’s lives possibly span a few hundred years; design will be everywhere, catered to age-groups specifically (interior design for a 24th century humans will be incredibly different to interior design for a 28th century human, etc.).
I hope to see some of these in future sci-fi movies, as right now, most of these ideas are contained to concept artists, creative directors / bloggers / etc.