Tag Archives: Replicator

Science Fiction Today – Money

MMoney in today’s world is a vital part of how the world works and a reason for a lot of the problems present in our world. If you have more than enough money then it is always the question of what are you doing with it and do you deserve to have as much? When you have too little money it can be all that you focus on because it is the way that you can get basic necessities.

Often when looking at money in science fiction these concepts are exasperated. One possible outcome is that the concept of money in general changes, where suddenly it either does not exist or exists in a different commodity, for example food or time. The other direction is that money does still exist, but it is no longer a physical thing that gets carried around.

Oh, and sorry that this is the topic for Tax Day – totally on accident!

Virtual Money

A direction that the world is already going and you can see in many Science Fiction scenarios is money that does not exist in physical form. This is already the case in credit cards because we just swipe plastic card and money gets transferred from point A to point B.

What happens when our medical and banking history is all accessed through a chip in our arm or some other biometric tether? Suddenly we can transfer funds at a moment’s notice and yet none of that money exists except digitally. This sort of future is often seen in Science Fiction where the world exists pretty much as it does today, but the technology has become more advanced. Some of it is that at any moment people have access to all of their funds at a moments notice because if it is digital it is accessible from almost anywhere.

No Money, No Problem

The other idea is that money no longer exists or at least does not exist in the way that we think of it. In Star Trek it seems that money does not really exist anymore, at least for the Federation. With replicators it makes sense because if you can just have items appear from nothing without a cost why do you need to pay for anything?

Another option where no money is a concern is when the resources are doled out among people. It is about everyone getting resources evenly (although this does not always work out evenly in practice). You see this in a lot of post-apocalyptic societies, with limited resources.

Then there are stories where instead of trading money for goods you trade other things. In The Hunger Games there is some money, but what is really traded – in the establishment at least – is the kids putting their names in to have an increased chance of being chosen for the games. This gets them food to be able to feed their families. Another option that is explored in the story In Time is that the commodity that humans have is time. It gives a darker look at what happens with class inequality.

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!

Science Fiction Today – Food

FFood has gone from something that we had to seek out, to something we cultivated, and now is becoming something we create. Continually questions get raised about where the food we eat actually comes from and whether we really recognize all the chemicals that we are adding to our food. There has even been discussion of being able to use 3D printers for food.

Food supply can often be either a main issue or a side issue in science fiction stories because food is a vital part of keeping a society alive. Some of the problems I can see is usually in the examples of the future either there is a food crisis or we have switched to entirely created food and “all natural” is a luxury.

Food Crisis

The food crisis scenarios are ones where the food sources that we have are either drying up or just not enough to support the growing population. This can be seen in movies such as Interstellar or books like The Wind Up Girl. In both of these situations an infection of our food source begins to destroy crops and the world cannot find a way to fix the problem.

An infection of the world’s food source is not the only potential problem that could happen – there is also the fact that the world population keeps growing beyond the real limits of what the food source can actually hold, but we keep finding a way to supplement it. In many of these situations it is just about finding a way to get people some kind of nutrition, but often it is not enough.

Created Food

When I talk about created food I am thinking of things such as the replicator in Star Trek or the scene in Fifth Element where they put in a small pill in a machine and out comes a whole chicken. This is a situation where there is no food crisis because we have figured out a way to generate food. The big problem I can see with this is that there would still be pockets of natural food, but it is either by people farming for themselves (like Picard’s family) or a luxury paid for by the rich.

There are a lot of people, even in today’s society, who talk about not wanting to put unnatural things into their body. I don’t know how people would react to food that just creates itself! There is a distrust of things that are viewed as artificial and I cannot imagine that generated food would not be completely artificial. But it does also contribute to the option of the population just continuing to grow.

There are trade-offs to being able to create a never-ending food supply and being able to just have the population keep growing. At the same time down the road will we discover that some of our choices about what we put into our food have actually created other complications?

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!

Science Fiction Today – The Environment and Scarcity

Welcome back for another round of Science Fiction Today. Last time, I considered what thinking about things like the sequester would be like a bit further into our future. Hey look, that ended up happening… Oh, and in terms of virtual vacations, I was reminded that this is also somewhat the plot to (either) Total Recall.

For today, I wanted to tackle another sticky situation, one where I feel like we seem to be missing the point as we argue politically.

That would be the environment. What will that look like in the future? Continue reading