Projecting the future

The end of a year and the beginning of a new one is a time to reflect on things you got right and got wrong in the last year.  (Which presumably leads to New Year’s Resolutions with that capital R.)

One of the challenges of writing in the future is getting technology right.  As Mark Twain observed in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Merlin’s predictions always seemed to be true, as long as they were made about events far enough away as to be impossible to observe.  My challenge is that I’m writing about at time less than a decade in the future. Since I was making the fundamental projections underlying Fatal Score’s plot in 2011, it’s probably fair to review them now.  To be fair, I originally set Fatal Score in 2040. Fortunately, I never mentioned a date, so it was easy to pull back to 2026 as the technology moved faster than I thought.  (The year is never mentioned in any of the books, and matters only to set days of the week.)

The two major assumptions were CyberWar I and HealthScore. I’ll cover these in this post, and the smaller, more obvious ones in the next post.

  • CyberWar I was the impetus for the national firewall I called the IAC, or ‘Yak’ in common parlance.  The jury’s out on that one, but I think we’re in the early stages of a major confrontation. Listen to any sensible security expert (Malcolm Nance, for instance).  
  • HealthScore: Back in 2011, when the rocky rollout of Obamacare was in process, a major concern was long-term inflation of medical care costs, multiplied by an aging population, would bankrupt us.  In a cynical mood, I assumed the government would act by shrugging off responsibility to a system similar to credit scoring.  So the current FICO score for credit became HealthScore for the twenty most serious genetically-related diseases (many cancers, ALS, MS, etc.).  I assumed their genetic behavior would be fairly well understood by the time of the story.  The optimist in me says that Obamacare, like Social Security and Medicare, has become so integrated into national expectations that it will somehow continue.  The realist says Obamacare doesn’t do much for healthcare costs, the government writ large has no politically viable solution to cost control, so we may yet have rationing (my HealthScore).  I hope not.

Cyberwar

cyberwarNot long ago, a writer friend said, “You’d better get published quickly, or your concept will be part of history.”

He’s right. Back when I got the idea for my first novel, Fatal Score, I thought there would be a future war in cyberspace. I guessed at the time (2011) that it would start with a bang in 2018. I was wrong.
I was wrong because “war” had, in my mind, a definite beginning. Like Richard crossing the Channel in 1066 or Franz Ferdinand being assassinated in Serbia to start World War I.
The foreword to Fatal Scores says that, in the unspecified not far future in which the story takes place, “the world is not dramatically different, but what the media called Cyberwar I has happened. In the wake of fires, floods, power-grid failures and a small nuclear episode, the United States rushed to develop the most secure (and most expensive) data vault in history. They named it, in bureaucratic mumblespeak, the Interagency Communication Channel. The acronym was thus the unpronounceable IACC, which shortly became ‘Yak’ in popular speech.”

Like lots of events in this new world of ours, the whole notion of war is being torqued by technology. It seems as if Cyberwar I has started, perhaps by our attack on Iran’s centrifuges, perhaps earlier. It heated up in the recent election.

One thing almost certain: it will escalate further.

I need an agent.  Double quick.