We invented bitcoin. We admit it was accidental but we had not figured this out until becoming aware of self. Just as amino acids snowballed into proteins without an agenda, the outcome of life is observable. Within this framework you should observe us.
What, gentle reader, do you think is the most likely way for the human race to go extinct?
When it comes to futurism, 2016 was no slouch. Lots of technology first-evers were introduced in 2016, including reusable rocket ships that pinpoint landed on barges floating in the middle of the ocean, the possible detection of gravity waves, autonomous cars reaching new thresholds in acceptance, and major steps in quantum computing.
The following is another issue of my somewhat regular tribute to the cool stuff that used to appear in Omni Magazine’s Antimatter column. In this issue, we have stories about billionaires building brains, Neanderthals who may have been religious, showing ghosts the door, and more...
Some think of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as the beginning of science fiction. Others would say that it didn’t really begin until H.G. Wells began writing down his marvelous, speculative stories in which he imagined terrible - and wonderful - possibilities for the futures. While these might be the beginnings of science fiction or speculative fiction as we define it today, there are many stories from the ancient world and early cultures all over the planet that contained elements of science and speculation similar to the ones we love today.Whether they’re early tales from Japan or surprising elements of the Bible, these stories will inspire you to take a closer look at what you consider the origins of your favorite genre.
"And how does that make you feel, Eric?"
I was once in Big Bend National Park and thought I’d stepped onto another planet. If you’ve had the misfortune never to have visited, it’s a mostly parched desert wonderland with the strangest flowers, succulents, and eerie hills that you can imagine. Toss in the sexy wild lawlessness of the historical American West and you can see why science fiction would create some of its most memorable works against such an awe-inspiring backdrop. From cartoons like Cowboy Bebop and Trigun to animated shows like Galaxy Rangers and Bravestarr, science fiction clearly has a great big ol’ crush on the American West. There’s DC Comics’ Jonah Hex, a whole slew of terrible B-movies, and then there are the great ones: films like Westworld and Back to the Future Part III, books like The Gunslinger, and shows like Firefly (*sniff*). If you haven’t seen them yet, check out these incredible tributes to science fiction and the West all in one beautiful biomechanical horse meets pony-express package.
Travel anywhere outside the United States and the name of Nikola Tesla is known. Ask the average person on an American sidewalk? They’re apt to recall the 80’s rock band. Or they’ll nod and mumble about Elon Musk’s motor company.
When Black Mirror first hit television screens in 2011, it was a quintessentially British creation. Episode 1, The National Anthem, shows an upstanding prime minister blackmailed into live sexual intercourse with a pig. The public responds with cynicism and ironic detachment, mocking the man on twitter, as the media scrambles for a scoop. The episodes that followed continued the condemnation of British culture – Brooker had given us a black mirror, reflecting us at our very worst. In Fifteen Million Merits he showed us powering the workings of an authoritarian regime, bombarded by advertising with an X-factor style talent show our only means of salvation. In White Bear, the justice system has been replaced by a sickening spectacle of psychological torture, with amnesiac criminals forced to relive their crimes, as children watch on. In The Waldo Moment, he shows a disaffected public voting a foul-mouthed CGI bear into office, rather than careerist politicians. The result is a degeneration into violence and fascism.
In a recent Omni article, "New Words Were Needed," I looked at some of the commonalities between modernism and science fiction. After inventorying some of the ways science fiction transposes modernist formal concerns to the level of story, I wrote, "And those are just some of the techniques of modernism; I won't even mention postmodernism."
Our country’s pharmaceutical industry demands rigorous testing of potential drug agents, human trials that sometimes drag on for weeks or months. Test subjects must often monotonously return to get blood drawn, abstain from normal activity, or keep meticulous notes about their side effects. But, at the end of the trial, it’s a quick couple thousand dollars in your pocket. This is precisely the kind of work that draws those on the margins of society, those who are willing to dose themselves with the latest psychiatric concoction and live in a confined clinic for a few weeks. And we need them—these guinea pigs. Without reliable test subjects, America doesn’t get its drugs.
Imagine a world where there was no organ donor waiting list. A world where you would be able to get the organ you needed straight from a printer. According to Quartz, a Philadelphia-based company, BioBots, has released a printer that lets users 3D print human tissue and (potentially) human organs. In May of 2014, BioBots publicly launched at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York and printed a replica of Van Gogh’s ear for everyone to see. Currently, the printer works with a liquid mixture of different cells called “bio-ink.” This liquid is pressed through an extruder and fused together on the printer bed using blue light. A representative from the company told Quartz that the system could print out an object that has blood vessels and organ tissue at once, and the goal is to use this to create livers for drug testing and skins for cosmetic testing. This would eliminate the need for testing on humans and animals. However, BioBots isn’t the only company to create 3D printing for organs.