I recently got into Sci-Fi short films presented on DUST channel. They each condenses a whole new ambitious worldview into 10-30 minutes of storytelling, which seems quite remarkable. After drifting in and out of new planets in the galaxies, battles to emancipate synthetic robots, and immersive life counseling technologies, I cannot help but amaze at the imaginative power of human beings, our ability to create another world with few logical loopholes. However, as I explored further, a pattern emerged — a dystopian outlook that moves, apprehends and depresses me. 👽
Where did this depressive worldview come from? You could say that Western filmmakers are more or less influenced by Christian ideologies, so the notion of unidirectional progression of mankind toward ultimate apocalypse sticks in their heads. However, this does not explain how writers of other religions, even atheists, create a similar apocalyptic world. Liu Cixin depicted lonely migration of mankind in search of a new sun in The Wandering Earth. Huxley created a Platonic Brave New World where social mobility completely dissipates and everyone are conditioned to embrace injustice, death, and instant pleasures by soma and entrenched doctrines inculcated by repeating radio talks. Human wrongdoings that entail such a bleak future are the elephants in the room. 🐘 Abuse of natural resources, disruptive technologies and data-driven societies mean anthropogenic climate change, overpopulation, stolen jobs, privacy invasion and, above all, loss of humanistic values. We managed to break the limit of our genes, and upgraded to memes, figments of ideas that spread from person to person. However, memes grow more and more contagious when technology gets involved; before we notice, we will lose control to these powerfully efficient information replicators that hijack our brains and propagate at every chance they have.
A memable toilet paper 🧻 Susan Blackmore’s TED talk on memes
However, is this prophecy really going to come true? Humans have free will, and while we are slowly giving our autonomy away to machines, technologies and social media, if we stay conscious and work together, there is still light at the end of the tunnel. More often, these whimsical worlds offer us a separate perspective to review our human reality. Tales of the Unusual, a Japanese thriller pioneer series, does exactly that. Imagine that every good or bad deed you did in this life will be computed as a basis to choose your second life form? A park bench that allows you to travel back 24 hours, but no change can ever save your best friend’s life? A human microwave that hyped you up before work, but desiccated your family relationship? These are interesting stories that inspire you about the life that is in our hands, and our future to create. 🔮
Let me end off with a quote from The Incoming Call in DUST, from future wreck Kerri to young and frightened Kerri:
“Nothing bad will happen, but nothing good happens either. If you spend your whole life worrying about horrible things that could happen, nothing will happen, and trust me, that is worse.”
So, keep these lessons from Sci-Fi (and perhaps omnipotent evil demons too 😈) in mind, and enjoy life.