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The military plunders science fiction in search of tech ideas, but is blind to social commentary in this genre.

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Military planning is a complex endeavor, requiring logistics and infrastructure experts to anticipate resource availability and technological advances. Long-term military planning to decide what to invest in now to prepare the army for the world in 30 years is even more difficult.


One of the most interesting tools for thinking about future defense technologies is big data forecasting and Synthetic training environment, But the story and imagination.And we do this science fiction..

That may sound fancy, but many troops are already working on this genre. NS U.S. Army When French army use Science A fiction writer who creates future threat scenarios. NS Australian Defense College Advocating science fiction reading, in Germany, Project Cassandra Use the novel to predict the next conflict in the world. NS Sigma ForumA science fiction think tank, has been providing forecasting services to US authorities for many years.

Science fiction provides military planners with a fascinating glimpse of future weapons, from exoskeletons to mind-machine interfaces, but this genre is always more than a flashy new gadget. This is to predict the unexpected ways these technologies can affect humans and society. This extra situation is often overlooked by authorities deciding which technology to invest in future conflicts.

Imaginary world

Like my colleague David Seed, who studied how fiction affects real-life threat assumptions. Nuclear terrorismI am interested in how science fiction affects our sense of the future.This gave me the opportunity to work with the members armyUse science fiction to query assumptions and generate new visions for the future.

However, the relationship between military planners and science fiction novels is problematic. “Cognitive diversity“And with new ideas from the government and the military, this genre faces serious image problems.

People tend to associate science fiction only with aliens, Space travel— Its better element — This seems to have been removed from the probably appropriate business of planning and strategy. As a result, even open-minded planners who identify science fiction as a source of inspiration for new technologies always keep it arm-length.

So when I read Recent reports About the strategic meaning ofHuman enhancement“I was intrigued by the British and German military defense planners. Human enhancements such as perceptual enhancement and personalized medicine see the technologicalization of the human body as a major weapons competition. It’s a big thing in the defense world.

If you think this all sounds like a science fiction, you’re right.Sub-genre cyber punk (With William Gibson Pat Cadigan, And games such as Deus Ex seriesProbably the culmination of human enhancement fiction: a cyborg with enhanced eyesight. A warrior with a bionic arm and razor claws. A “console cowboy” infiltrates the data fortress of a large cyberspace company.

For Super Soldiers roaming the battlefield with Powered Armor, Robert Heinlein’s Space warrior, Joe Haldeman’s Eternal war, Or John Scalzi’s War of the old man..Genetic mating of enhanced soldiers is widely covered in texts such as James Cameron’s series. Dark angel And recently, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Dogs of war..

Factual fiction

However, these texts are not actually included in the military plan report. There are references to “science fiction-inspired suits” and “enables science fiction-inspired” technologies, but otherwise this genre doesn’t exist. Like many military planners, report authors seem to want to define these technologies for science fiction, emphasizing that the genre is fiction and human enhancement technology is a fact.

But if you put science fiction aside, you lose something. In contrast to readers who may lament mentioning science fiction novels in military reports, I assert that such reports are rarely sufficient for science fiction novels.

Genre may be common Technology relatedBut still, it’s not the technology itself, but the context, usage, Effect of new technology To humans.Science fiction writer Frederik Pohl “A good sci-fi story should be able to predict traffic jams, not cars,” he says. Science fiction has always been about the secondary and tertiary effects of technology, an unexpected effect for military planners.

That is the true value of science fiction for those involved in the future. Technology is not neutral, but it works in a discourse set by a story told about technology. This affects the applications (and misuses) that are considered to be their development.

Science fiction scholars are warned when military reports talk about recognizing humans as a platform for optimizing with new technologies. When augmentation is imagined in a fictional world, it is often associated with serious new inequality and conflict.

Face change creatively

According to military planners, augmentation is no longer just a “super soldier” but a “super citizen.” If augmentation may need to protect the entire population from bioengineering threats, how do we explore the ethics of this? How society is “Bring your own strengthening“Workplace technology? What black market will be created to carry out such enhancements at low cost?”

Science fiction does not have all the answers to these questions, but it does provide us with space to look them up. Imaginative experiment The audience can think of dramatic situations that reveal the dangers and benefits of technical intervention.

Military planners have the right to bring these issues to the foreground right now. But they also need to see science fiction as more than just a fictional background in “real” discussions. Science fiction helps what the planning report calls “understanding these potential changes to human abilities,” pointing to not only cars, but also traffic, fumes, and collisions.


Studies show that boys’ aversion to reading fiction is actually fiction


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The military plunders science fiction in search of tech ideas, but is blind to social commentary in this genre.

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