So I was reading an article where Spielberg and Lucas were discussing the future of the entertainment industry. For the most part, their discussion pertained to the continuous inflation of movie ticket prices and the bubble that will eventually pop. But they also discussed the future of the entertainment industry and what part technology will play in it, and how it will shape it.
At one point the articles quotes Lucas as suggesting brain implants are the future of entertainment.
He noted that such implants “are already being used to control artificial limbs; they just haven’t been used for entertainment yet.”
As soon as I read that, I was reminded of Alduos Huxley’s Brave New World and the concept of “feelies.” Instead of just watching the life-like actions of still images made to move (movies), the audience was made to feel all the sensations of the actors and environment of the film. It was fully immersive entertainment, much like the Virtual Reality science fiction trope popular in the 90s. (Remember VR.5? Yeah, me too.)
Except that to get the full immersive experience, in Huxley’s BNW, the audience held special handles and that projected the sensations and smells into the audience’s brains, while in the 90s, VR was always associated with gaudy and unwieldy helmets.
Implants makes way more sense, but I guess Huxley didn’t know implants would be an eventuality, and the 90s didn’t take them too seriously either since the processing capabilities just weren’t available at the time. Now, on the other hand, with current processing speeds and the size of processors getting smaller, it seems an eventuality.
Technology is really bleeding into every part of our lives, and either we start getting serious about making some Brave New World type movies or we, y’know, have real meaningful discussions about the pervasiveness of that technology.
Personally, I loved Brave New World when I read it in high school. The whole idea of what appears to be a Utopian society obsessed with technology is awesome. And then to juxtapose it with a grittier society that shuns it. What advantages and insights they both have are at odds, and yet neither is completely right or wrong.
There is a third side to this line of thought, and that is the idea of hacking and government surveillance. A whistleblower who worked at the NSA and revealed widespread US government surveillance, and the release of the “always-on connectivity” feature of the XBox One at E3 has put the spotlight on privacy issues and the ethics of technology and surveillance. If the actions of the government in this light, and having always-on connectivity forced on the gaming audience is being questioned, what would this mean for implants with connectivity abilities?
The idea of government surveillance was asked in Orwell’s 1984, and yet we find ourselves blindly heading towards this dystopian future anyway.
I think this is why I’ve always loved the science fiction genre. It was asking these types of questions before the technology to do so was even available. The important question here is: why aren’t we still asking them now that the tech is available?