WHAT COULD GO WRONG . . . ? Progress! It’s wonderful—though it sometimes has unexpected and undesirable side effects. Read the long warning list of possible side effects on a medicine bottle’s label sometime . . . the part in really tiny print. But surely the benefits of modern technology outweigh the drawbacks. Until they don’t. Remember how increasingly deadly weapons, from the machine gun to the H‑bomb, were supposed to make war too horrific to even be contemplated? Didn’t happen. The cell phone has made it possible to phone from almost anywhere—too bad if you wanted to be out of reach. And civilization is so big and complicated, that a breakdown of any part can have disastrous consequences. Modern transportation makes it possible to get anywhere in a hurry, though traffic jams and overextended airports may slow the hurry part to a crawl. And it also can ensure that a new disease can go all over the planet in a few days. Then, there’s the sheer complexity of society itself, from interminable waits at the DMV to trying to get tech help on the phone (“Your call is important to us . . .”). And that’s just the present day. What new technologies, new ways of organizing (or disorganizing) society, new confused and confusing government bureaucracies, new ways for small disgruntled groups to wreak havoc, and worse, will the future bring? Will privacy keep eroding? Could computers and robots take over? Maybe they wouldn’t want to. And if the pace of modern life is driving you batty, just wait to see what’s on the horizon. Exploring such scary, yet fascinating, possibilities are such masters of science fiction as Robert A. Heinlein, Sarah A. Hoyt, Fritz Leiber, Gordon R. Dickson, Lester del Rey, Christopher Anvil, Fredric Brown, and more, writers who have seen the future—and it may not work . . .
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