One of the main aspects of the cyberpunk genre is technology and its impact on society. As most cyberpunk stories are set in the not too distant future, plausible technology is a difficult thing to get right.
In the world of science-fiction, predicting future technology is often a case of two extremes. Some technology is far too advanced, while another piece of technology is simply too close to current capabilities to be plausible. A good example that comes to mind for both of these extremes is Blade Runner.
As stated on the Blade Runner Wiki, “The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 in which genetically engineered replicants, which are visually indistinguishable from adult humans, are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation as well as by other “mega-corporations” around the world. Their use on Earth is banned and replicants are exclusively used for dangerous, menial, or leisure work on off-world colonies. Replicants who defy the ban and return to Earth are hunted down and “retired” by special police operatives known as “Blade Runners”. The plot focuses on a desperate group of recently escaped replicants hiding in Los Angeles and the burnt-out expert Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment to hunt them down.”
Considering we are only five years from the year 2019, the possibility of full-functioning, life-like cyborgs could be a near impossibility by the year 2019. Despite a perceived rapid rate of technological change, massive advancements such as a world inhabited by cyborgs is beyond such a close time-frame. Even the off-world colonization concept is almost beyond prediction considering manned missions to mars are still an optimistic dream that may take longer than hoped.
On the other end of the scale, some of the technology seen in the film resembles hardware seen in the 1980s such as a machine seen in the following photo.
This kind of technology seems far too bulky and unsophisticated to be part of a high-tech world capable of interstellar colonization. It is more likely to be just a restriction associated with the film being made in 1982 when flat panel TV screens were still in development. In the medium of creative writing, the author is only restricted by their imagination. Despite the open capabilities of writing, it can be quite tricky to anticipate what the future might hold.
My story in development centres around characters in the year 2033. 2033 is a not too distant time frame in the scheme of things, but still far off enough that a lot of thought is necessary when thinking about technology.
As I am writing about an all controlling “corporatocracy”, technology is at the forefront of daily life for the characters, with the authorities displaying a clear dominance over the population. To balance this in a way that seems plausible, I have made the rebels to the authorities operate mostly with dated technology brought on the cheap, giving the authorities a strong advantage.
This balance is allowing me the luxury of taking current technology and anticipate where it might head in the next 10 to 20 years instead of just trying to overestimate concepts to be future proof.
I have taken some inspiration from this rather cool design. The main character Vit will sport this piece of tech considered to be out of date for the time frame. It will be something that she is restricted to, given circumstance.
The authorities will be equipped with a similar interface housed entirely within their eye (imagine Google glass 20 years from now).
The authorities will also have advanced combat suits that will give them a clear advantage.
Whereas the resistance fighters will have to work with what they can get.
Overall I will be focusing on the future of smartphones, the Internet, the consequences of a digitally connected world, and military drones. I’m not planning on predicting the future or re-inventing the wheel, I just want to explore where these technologies could take us and the impact they will have on society in the right and wrong hands.