May 19, 2010
A little bit of a reality check for those of us who write about SF futures, or just think about the future in general. This snazzy 21st Century lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to is based on an extremely long supply-chain. Think of the support required for an iPhone to exist. (h/t Futurismic) You have mines, factories, server farms, copper an optical cabling, cell towers. . . every one of those disparate elements is subject to the whims of the real world; everything from political regulatory interference to natural disasters, and we already see how a software monoculture can breed cyberpunkish entities like the conficker worm. We already live in a world with global chains of dependence and choke points all over the place, and the past few decades we’ve been pushing down the ideas of overcapacity for a model that’s more “just in time.” Those efficiencies make the whole system vulnerable. When one factory in China makes your chip, what happens when the nearby river floods, the workers succumb to a typhus outbreak, or the plant is nationalized in a war effort?
What kind of global infrastructure is required to support and maintain your cybernetic transuman warrior chick, and what happens to her when the structure breaks down?