In reading this article, one of the first things that struck me was that I couldn’t believe I had never heard of this sci-fi short or author before. The fact that Leinster was able to so accurately predict future technology is incredible, and I couldn’t understand why it appears to be obscure. It’s notoriously difficult to predict the advances of the future. “All we know is all there is”, and therefore it is quite hard to foresee that which does not currently exist. This makes Leinster’s accuracy particularly amazing. However, perhaps his genius was in the simplicity of his premise. He appears to have recognized a trend within the developing technology of the time. Information was being shared quicker. Through phones, radios, and early televisions, communicating ideas and finding solutions was becoming much easier. So perhaps the logical extension would be, what if information could be found almost instantaneously? And what if some of that information wasn’t necessarily good?
Perhaps what intrigues me most is that Leinster anticipates that the tool itself is morally neutral. It can be used for good or for bad. Too often we see technology portrayed as a villain in media. But this simply doesn’t mimic real life. We don’t see technology rising against us like the depictions of dystopian novels. But we do see it being misused for nefarious purposes. It is this understanding of future technology that I find to be particularly impressive. Essentially he portrays these future advancements as a tool, and cautions us to use it wisely. This is consistent with how I view the modern-day internet, and it is this fundamental agreement that I am most pleasantly surprised by.