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How Science Fiction Helps Us Understand the Economy

Fantasy and economics

Fantasy and economics

Underlying our fears of robots stealing our jobs are more basic anxieties about money. We're using fantasy to confront fears

Sci-Fi has become a measure to assess what's happening in the real world to see if we should be concerned. It doesn't take us away from our problems but allows us to identify what's wrong.

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How Science Fiction Helps Us Understand the Economy

How Science Fiction Helps Us Understand the Economy

https://slate.com/technology/2018/03/how-science-fiction-helps-us-understand-our-economic-system.html

slate.com

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Key Ideas

Fantasy and economics

Underlying our fears of robots stealing our jobs are more basic anxieties about money. We're using fantasy to confront fears

Sci-Fi has become a measure to assess what's happening in the real world to see if we should be concerned. It doesn't take us away from our problems but allows us to identify what's wrong.

Economic metaphors

  • The Hunger Games gave us a neo-Depression dystopia where media-obsessed elites torment the starving lower classes.
  • The Expanse is about class warfare.
  • The 1950 Foundation series was partly about saving the galaxy with sound economic programs.
  • The 2012 novel Three Parts Dead, was a mythical reimagining of the 2008 financial crisis. The author, Max Gladstone, said you couldn't tell a story like the financial crisis with realism. You need fantasy to explain it.

The dark side of science fiction

The “dark” kind of science fiction deals with the foundation of economics, which is scarcity. There is a fear that poverty will come faster as automation continues to devalue human labor.

People are experiencing scarcity or are afraid of it on a regular basis. Writers are turning to economists to make their financial worlds more plausible.

Exploring a future of automation

By incorporating ideas of economists, science fiction can explore a future of automation.

For example, how easy it would be to slide backward into the savagery of a slave economy. By incorporating ideas of a working economist, readers can be offered a believable thought experiment about real-life dangers.

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