Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Sunday, October 07, 2012
Futurology's "If Magic Were Real" Paradox
Yes, if magic were real it would be possible to create all sorts of magical artifacts that do all sorts of magical things and magically solve all of our problems, but if magic were real there also would be no need to have artifacts to do anything anyway and we would have no problems to solve. So, if you have to introduce all sorts of "if magic were real" stipulations about controlled navigation and energy consumption and mass protection in order to make a paper that faintly suggests something like faster than light traversal phenomena may sometimes be possible seem to suggest as well that Star Trek starship warp drives are also possible (and because possible somehow "therefore" plausibly on the way -- dood, excellent!) the question is: why delay the introduction of your "if magic were real" stipulations so long? After all, if you are just going to rely on "if magic were real" anyway, then why not start that way? Winkle your nose like Samantha on Bewitched, cross your arms and blink-nod like Jeannie in I Dream of Jeannie, flick your stick like Harry Potter at Hogwarts and you can be anywhere, anywhen, anyhow. True, you won't be able to bamboozle anybody into thinking you are engaging in some sort of sophisticated scientific dialogue that way -- but you aren't after all. You'll just be indulging in fanboy fanwanking that has little to do with actual science, theory, or policy. And there's nothing wrong with that, and there can be plenty that is edifying about that, so long as don't forget that science fiction isn't science, wanking isn't policy-making, and fandoms aren't movements.