Flash Fiction Dystopias Volume 1

By Christine Lemmer-Webber on Mon 03 June 2013

I thought I'd have some fun and try my hand at some flash fiction dystopian futures. This will be an exercise in brevity writing about topics I think about without taking them too seriously. Without further ado:

HTML5 DRM goes through; Netflix sweeps into the web and over the next few years takes over the majority of video and audio distribution on the web, becoming the web's first super-monopoly on media. The DRM standard is easily worked around, but that was just a front for a legal excuse to sue anyone who does. Netflix eventually starts sending out lawsuits to anyone who doesn't have a subscription; I mean come on, do they really believe you haven't been watching any of these popular shows? Seems unlikely.

Monsanto does military contracting and creates a disease (or non-dispersable airborne chemical, or a plain old buildup in toxins from embedding pesticides inside of food, take your pick) that wipes out half the population; children are particularly susceptible. In further military contracting, they had already built several lines of genetically engineered embryos that are immune. After the war, future-parents are offered the purchase of said embryos, but you basically have a choice between one of 5 different sets of DNA. Also Monsanto has control on the patents so attempts to genetically engineer your own immune children are seen as piracy; said children are confiscated and disposed of.

Genetic patents on cancer and cancer cures means you get charged both for the cure to the disease and for infringing on the company's patents for having the disease in the first place.

Google Glass comes out, free software alternatives struggle to develop for its infrastructure, especially on the backend. The pressure to own a set and stream your life through Google's datacenters is far greater than the pressure to own a cell phone ever was (and so is the social ostracization). EEG keyboards also come out; computation has moved into the point of being an additional processor for your brain. Free alternatives start to get good, but aren't quite there, and the authors never bother to successfully advocate to non-developers; occasionally people try to move over but discover that the only people they can communicate with in the free alternative are free software developers, and get tired of it. The singularity happens, and is wholly owned and operated by Google, Inc.

Automated cars come out with no free alternatives, are a remarkable improvement in automotive safety, but mean total surveillance on movement and become an effective tool (along with Google Glass) in an emerging police state. Bicyclists suddenly become the only group that have true autonomy, and begin to realize it. Unfortunately that leads 5% of the biking population to become really smug about things and the popular image of bicyclists on the road becomes so low that pushing for legislation to improve conditions for bicyclists to make it a more feasible daily urban mode of transport never take off.

Full computing, data, and software user freedom is eventually achieved, but it turns out it doesn't matter because it happens at approximately the same time that modern civilization becomes unsustainable due to resource depletion and catastrophic climate change.