Last Funday I pointed out that science, the process of learning, could be fun. Fisics is a good example of where some famous discoveries were made by thinking of scenarios that push the boundaries of our knowledge. They address the question, “What if?”
And I asked you, Gentle Reader, what professional (they get paid!) does this today in the area of behavior? Not an academic, mostly. Not economists or social workers either. No, they are writers! Specifically writers of science fiction.
“Oh no,” you say. Science fiction writers write about science! They don’t write about behavior. And I say, come and take a close look.
First and foremost, none of these writers could sell a book without including a character with human characteristics. Maybe they are ‘aliens’ or ‘robots,’ but there will be a character. And because all the known readers for this book ARE human (as far as we know) they must write so that the humans empathize and bond with this character.
The “science” is only a device that allows the writer to expand his universe, to warp and twist the known world into a new shape, hopefully making the characters interact in more interesting ways. In this way future world can explore what happens when drugs are legal, or when everyone can have their genes altered making them super-powered. Perhaps the writer will place humanity among the stars, or put our brains into robot bodies. It doesn’t matter exactly what they do, but that they do it, and explore.
And that’s the most important part. What does happen to a human when you put their brain into a robot? What happens to their spouse, their family, and their society? How do the laws of behavior react? What interesting affects occur? And here is the true science of science fiction.
Except that these writers, the academics, and all the other professionals don’t realize that it’s happening. And that’s a subject for next week.