Bruce Sterling had a new short story, “I Saw the Best Minds of My Generation Destroyed by Google,” published in the New Scientist recently.
It’s an amusing little cautionary tale, told from the perspective of a teenager in a world twenty years hence where RFID chips, GPS positioning, and a rampant information culture have destroyed the traditional teenage rebellion because it’s become impossible to rebel. Why a cautionary tale, then? Because it’s something we’re approaching now–parents can monitor their children’s Internet usage, can block television channels and websites–and what if those strictures were applied on a society-wide level? It’s something that might happen with the best of intentions, but the end result might well be a society that simply can’t function–if our children are never hurt, then how can they learn to deal with hurt?
Sterling’s story offers no solutions–it merely draws the picture of where we might be heading. It’s short, it’s even somewhat amusing. And it’s also a little scary, because is that a world we really want to see?