Prospicience: Imagining the Near Future beyond Covid-19 as well as the Far Future

Prospicience from a Science Fiction author’s point of view

“Axel Martinsen conjures up mind-blowing tales of courage, faith, and persistence exercised by everyday men and women like yourself who draw on their skill, their wits, and their Love for each other in order to overcome arch villains and survive and prosper under sometimes extreme environmental conditions and highly advanced technological environments.”
  ⸺ Olivia Dunham (Boston, Mass.)

Prospicience or Prospection is the brain’s activity of looking forward into the future. This author’s version of prospection takes the form of juxtaposing human beings in time and space to get me imagining things like human survival and overcoming extreme challenges well beyond the here and now. Also, I try to imagine a better future for me and us and I do this by changing things up — imagining settings that are very different than those we are currently accustomed to. This is what science fiction writers do.

But, in a more practical sense, when thinking about our present world and predicaments, it is fun to apply prospection to imagine and fantasize about better times ahead in the near-future, that is, beyond this Covid-19 Pandemic.

In my own personal life I have experienced some extreme hardships and have had to overcome and survive some very challenging life situations. I am not unique there. In every human’s life their will be adversity, challenges, and letdowns — that’s just part and parcel of the human condition. I like the way Kermit the Frog put it: “It ain’t easy being green!” — which is of course a metaphor for It ain’t easy being human. Be that as it may, we’ll take it, hmm? In any case, the crux here is how we respond to adversity and difficult challenges. This is what matters.

Right now as I write, the country has been on lockdown, sheltering in place, practicing social distancing, and wearing masks when going food shopping — all to help curb the spread of this SARS-2 Coronavirus contagion. However, I am personally no stranger to social distancing and social isolation. This has been my life for the past eight years in these United States and so I am quite used to it and actually do not mind it in the least. But, I can see that the concept and experience is alien to most Americans. The irony here is that I have a wealth of spiritual insights to share that can only help others but, sadly for most folks, they’re either not open minded enough — or else suffer from such acute tunnel vision that the only pursuit that holds any value to them at all is chasing after money. It is sad that so many deliberately choose ignorance. And so… I imagine the future…

To my way of thinking, what could be better than imagining everyday men and women who draw on their skills, their wits, and their love for each other in order to escape persecution and even vanquish arch villains? Or, survive and prosper under sometimes very extreme environmental conditions. One of the primary motivations of science fiction story writers is not only to entertain the reader but to also stimulate his or her mind and get him or her thinking about the implications of highly advanced technology on the lives of humans — both the amazing and the very positive ramifications, as well as the negative applications of technology that serve as detractors (which I’ll define in a sec).

What do we mean by highly advanced technology or technological environments? A technological environment refers to the state of science and technology in the country and related aspects such as the rate of technological progress and institutional arrangements for the development and application of new technology.

Examples that come to my mind in today’s world are…
▪︎Enterprise-level IT projects to install and rollout a new application or database that includes any necessary adjustments and fine-tuning of the XML schemas for the Middleware (APIs: web service calls).
▪︎Greenlighting by the U.S. Department of Defense for the full scale development of a new hypersonic bomber, which would set into motion a plethora of activities — all of them technological in nature.
▪︎The next great leap forward in computing with the advent of quantum computing.
▪︎The prospect of bullet trains to connect Los Angeles with San Francisco, and LA with Las Vegas.
▪︎Sustainable fusion reactions in tokomak (toroid) reactors which could make electricity essentially free for homeowners and renters.
▪︎Advances in materials sciences, such as single atom layer graphene lamina technology which will revolutionize capacitor technology — leading to the replacement of current Lithium Ion batteries (inside cell phones, tablets, hover boards, and Tesla electric cars) by the far greater energy-packed hybrid capacitor-battery combination, and,
▪︎Other amazing advances such as graphene nanotubes leading to the development perhaps of a space elevator? As in Arthur C. Clark’s The Fountains of Paradise…?
▪︎In the medical field, PACS systems that are now integrated into hospitals, radiological labs, and doctors offices have revolutionized the economical storage, distribution, transmission and lightning fast displaying of digitized MRI, CT scans, x-rays and PET scans onto just about any computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. (PACS stands for picture archiving and communication system).
▪︎In the rocket science arena there have been some amazing advances, such as SpaceX’s redesign of the rocket engine, and their booster rockets that return to the launchpad after they’ve done their jobs (launching a capsule and payload into orbit) — and they do so by landing vertically on the launchpad they took off from!

These are certainly all fine examples of advances in and the application of state-of-the-art technologies that have a very pronounced impact on human lives — not the least of which has been cell phone, smartphone and GPS tek.

To return to the discussion of the positive consequences of implementing new tek as well as its detractors — first off, the definition of a detractor is given by: A person who belittles the worth of another person or undermines their cause.

Okay, this portion of Prospection and Imagining the Future demands that I discuss the talisman. To my way of thinking, things like computer and telecommunication technologies are talismans. What is a talisman? Traditionally and literally speaking, “a talisman is any object ascribed with religious or magical powers intended to protect, heal, or even harm individuals for whom they are made.” (Wikipedia.org)

A talisman is essentially “inert” until its powers are invoked and put into play — for good or ill.

But recently, the word talisman has come to be applied to less tangible things. And, as mentioned earlier, technology is just such an example of a figurative talisman. I suppose law enforcement (the police), the justice system, and law practices can also be considered as examples of figurative talismans… as well as the medical field. Certainly, we’re all aware of a doctor’s hippocratic oath — to heal and to do no harm. But, there have been times when the practice of medicine has been used for evil purposes, namely, wicked Nazi doctors in the concentration camps of WWII.

And, in today’s China, the latest advances in surveillance technology (developed by the West, incidentally) are being used against Chinese citizens to establish “social credit scores” that determine whether a person is even considered for a good job, despite their otherwise excellent qualifications. Everything that the Chinese government can capture on their civvies — from their buying habits and places they frequent, to their emails and phone conversations, to facial recognition technology — is used to spy on them and “rate” them. Truly appalling!

But, the very same thing is happening in America. In fact, intrusive surveillance has been in place in America for a long time now. Since the time of J. Edgar Hoover the FBI has kept tabs on Americans, eh? And what about the NSA? We all know the name Edward Snowden. So, although to a lesser degree, the practice of spying on civvies is becoming ever more prevalent — just another example of a technology talisman that can be purposed for good or ill.

One factor that paved the way for government spying is the ever increasing population of humans on this planet. Before computers, records and files where generated and maintained by hand. A skyrocketing world population in the past 120 years has demanded ever faster machines that are getting amazingly good at following and recording a lot of what we do and say (and therefore, think). It can easily be argued that much good is accomplished daily with the marvelous invention of the Internet and cell phones, and how these wonders have dramatically improved all our lives.

Who would’ve imagined back in 1966, when Captain James T. Kirk flipped open his communicator to hail the orbiting Enterprise, that in just 38 years time, Motorola would come out with the RAZR V3 cellular flip phone — and it didn’t take two more centuries, as predicted by Star Trek. And soon after, we were blessed with smartphones that connect us to the Internet and have computing power that rivals today’s desktops and laptops. Amazing! In fact, I am writing this article right now on my Samsung Galaxy A10e, a remarkable machine that for many activities, makes my tower computer obsolete (but not quite, as I need the tower to run some fancy software applications).

Imagining a better future… this has been my impetus for writing science fiction and slipstream stories. Having personally experienced much disappointment and disillusionment working in corporate America for 30 years, and having observed and felt the growing indifference and frigidity of American women and their increasing competitiveness and sense of entitlement in all aspects of American society — which leads only to an escalation in general tension and warring between the sexes — I find imagining better futures off-world very stimulating and satisfying.

I’ve grown weary of the endless preoccupation with money ever-present among humans on this planet. I’ve grown weary with today’s women endless tugs-of-war with men. I’ve grown weary of the double standard inherent in America’s criminal justice system. Ironic, isn’t it? Naming it the “criminal” justice system — when it is precisely criminals in black gowns and feminazi district attorneys who are running the system! Wow. But anyway… America, I still love ya… but I just can’t stand your scene anymore.

So you’re darn right I imagine better futures on other planets — and remain cognizant all the while that wherever we humans go, we take ourselves and our selfishness, our arrogance, and our sense of entitlement with us. This is our affliction. The all too Human Condition.

Many have referred to Nietzsche as insane, but the one point this philosopher made that struck a cord with me was his suggestion that we humans should strive to become more than human — what he called (translated from the German) the “overman”. In other words, more human than human. What this actually urges us to do is be less bestial and brutish and strive to rise to the level of intelligence, sapience, competence, and compassion that our brains are fully capable of and, even more to the point — because is the right thing to do! Everyone that cares can play a role in being good stewards of this magnificent planet Earth; protect her and her fauna and flora, as well as the precious water and the air we all need.

In my upcoming novel Deep Divers, I imagine a series of worlds (city-states) on Mars five hundred years from now. Why so far into the future? Because, I don’t want to err and over-predict the speed with which Mankind will settle on other planets. By the way, our Moon is so large that it honestly should be categorized as a planetoid, and good sense dictates that we return there and set up some moonbases first, before venturing out to Mars. And, from the Moon, given it’s far smaller gravity well, it’s easier to launch to the outer planets and beyond. Other fascinating planetoids in our Solar System are of course Jupiter’s Galilean moons: Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, and Io. As well as Saturn’s Titan.

So, this Covid-19 Pandemic has me thinking a bit more about the near term future. It is true there seems to be a general low-keyed depressed mood out there — due to this microbial threat and social distancing and masks which hide our precious and badly needed human smiles. A lovely, positive and forward-thinking article (“Go Ahead, Fantasize!”) written recently by Tariro Mzezewa, is what got me started on my article here. Ms. Mzezewa and I have a common goal here — to lift your spirits and get you thinking and planning for the good times ahead.

So, I’ve compiled a list of activities for the near future that I’d like to do:

The Canadian Rockies by train:
Canada’s National Parks | Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper | 48 min. YT video
Rocky Mountaineer railway getaway | Vancouver to Banff in 4 minutes!
A Rhone river cruise.
Saddleback Inn: this is a very romantic setting in the mountains. I’m looking forward to taking a special lady up there for dinner, drinks, and karaoke.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This is the world’s largest rotating cable car tram. Once disembarking at Mountain Station at an elevation of 8,516 feet, there are two restaurants, observation decks, a natural history museum, two documentary theaters, a gift shop and over 50 miles of hiking trails to enjoy — so states their site: https://pstramway.com/
Hiking and mountain biking on mountain trails.
Launching my YouTube channel.
Enjoying next New Year’s Eve at a party.
Asking a new lady out on a date. Having been through two marriages and divorces, I’ve seen a lot. It’s taken me a while to get to the point where I’m willing to date again. This is now something I’m looking forward to. There are definitely activities a lady and I can do together despite this Pandemic that won’t put us at risk… Hiking, biking, cooking, dining and snuggling at home, etc.

For more entertaining, inspirational and mind-blowing stories about Mankind’s future, doubleclick on the menu header “BOOK” where you’ll get a preview of what’s on the event horizon!

And, for spiritually-oriented topics on Self-Improvement, Improving Relationships, Recovering from Codependency and other insights for better living and happiness — as well as Axel’s personal movie favorites and recommendations — checkout his other articles listed on the main Blog page.