I learned a great deal from the readings and essays in this class, but I have to admit, my main takeaway was this: fear. As I read “The World Is Flat” and the other articles, I learned that my job will very probably be outsourced to a developing country in the future. A few decades later, it will be outsourced to a robot, and a short time after that, a robotic species will evolve and enslave/destroy the human race. It’s pretty disheartening to think about, so I should really just focus on the present.
I now look at the world in a different way. I am no longer competing just with those in my college classes. I am competing with those on the other side of the world as well. This flattening of the world will increase competitiveness globally, and I feel like I have to work my heart out just to achieve middle-class status.
Another huge takeaway I had was that the title ‘science-fiction’ would more appropriately be titled ‘temporarily-science-fiction.’ After the readings in this class, all of the things I had seen in movies that I thought were impossible no longer seem unattainable. Even if I take the most ridiculously-futuristic movie that I can think of, probably The Matrix, I can’t think of anything in it that couldn’t be achieved. In the article ‘Why the future doesn’t need us,’ Bill Joy specifically talked about a fusion of robotics and humans. That’s almost exactly what The Matrix is about – people being coupled with robotics to sustain them. On a different note, even a movie that has little to do with technology, like a zombie movie, is possible through technology. For example, through the use of nanotechnology and genetic engineering, a ‘zombie’ could theoretically be created and an infection could spiral out of control. Before this semester, if you would’ve told me that a zombie outbreak will be possible in the future, I would have called you an idiot, but now, I can see it being a real possibility one day. Bill Joy even mentions that a vampire could be created through nanotechnology. This absolutely blew my mind. If the wrong person got a hold of this type of technology, the world could practically end, which brings me back to my main takeaway.
In my opinion, ‘The World is Flat’ was a very effective book for this course. Again, it gave me reason to fear, but I guess a nice dose of reality is a good thing. I really think that everyone should take this class – or at the very least, read this book – so that they can see where the world is headed. People need to recognize what skills will be employable and what skills won’t be employable. I think it’s somewhat sad that people get degrees in obscure subjects, and then get frustrated when they can’t find a job. People need to realize that the world is changing, and that certain skillsets, unfortunately, will not be employable in the future (at least not in our country).
“A Logic Named Joe” was a very entertaining break from reading constantly material of a serious nature. I am still blown away with how prophetic that story has proven to be. Since people of the 1940s probably considered that story to be ‘science fiction,’ it helped reinforce the idea that what we currently think is impossible will one day be possible. When I read science fiction from now on, I will have an entirely different perspective.
I think the final article “Why the World Doesn’t Need Us” was the perfect way to end the readings. It was probably one of the most insightful articles I have ever read. Since we spent the majority of the course reading “The World is Flat,” which talked about where the world is going, it was really effective to finish with an article about where the world will be going if this ‘flattening’ path continues indefinitely. Maybe one day a robot will write an e-book called ‘The World is Flatter than Flat: A World without Humans.’