Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New Genre Wednesdays: Metafuturism (FIVE DRONES)

UPDATE: Check out SUPERFLUX Issue 1: editorial by Warren Ellis and drone fictions (not, to be fair, "predictions") by Tim Maughan.

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What is metafuturism?

First, that's "-futurism" not as in futurismo, but as in futurology: sifting the present for traces of the future, just as historians sift the present for traces of the past.

Metafuturism Manifesto

Metafuturism morphs from futurism through the so-called Timidity Turn. It doesn't make predictions about the future. It just makes predictions about predictions about the future.

Metafuturism Sampler Exposure Draft: FIVE DRONES

E.g. I predict Tim Maughan's forthcoming bestiary of drones project may include the following drones:

1. Beats Moth

Autonomous hexacopters with superdirectional mics, the Beats Moth flock is all about providing the perfect tailored soundtrack to your day ... and night! Basically you walk around, and the drones play music that suits whatever it is they think you're doing. At first a novelty and a nuisance, Beats Moths unlocked new funding flows when it became obvious that some spots in the city are, in the long run, just way happier than others. Soon it became all about creating positive associations ... and negative ones! Now the sponsor's commercial jingle, slightly morphed for deniability, and perhaps algorithmically blended into the diffuse circumference of a recent chart hit, gets beamed into the ears pedestrians who are, all else being equal, probably ecstatic. Likewise a competitors' soundscape, stripped to its bare essentials, gets associated with instants of glare, stress, jostle, honk and stink. This is Muzak 2.0, or at least, 1.01. These drones even link up to a facial recognition database and a perpetually seething analysis of who might perv / shyly crush upon / actually fully-fledged fall in love with whom -- and what that falling-in-love should sound like, commercially speaking. Your eyes meet across a crowded room, just as Big Data suspected that they might. If ad priming be the food of love ...

2. MePee

These drones are taking the piss. Small, fleet, minty total-genital-possibility-space floating urinals skirr city centres of a Saturday night, guarding the wheelie bins and alley edges, drifting into the urb-suburban peripheries as dawn approaches scouring the homeward stumbleways. One-off use is extortionate so subscription is recommended. Also you don't have to watch the ads ("You may skip to urination in 10 seconds") and you get a free basic urinalysis with a huge array of paid upgrades: seriously, subscribe. Drones' onboard promotional equipment includes webcams linked to facial recognition software, 4.3V800MA searchlight, and speakers broadcasting helpful reminders of case-law relating to the Public Order Act 1986 and relevant local bylaws. Two main malware threats are both ransomware. The first -- varieties include PissCam Police, Piss2PotIn -- uses basic GC-MS analysis to look for prohibited substances, but a small fee will keep your positive results ex-directory if that's a desirable in your industry (the database of positives is generally used more by employers and insurers than law enforcement). The second form of ransomware, known as Clamp, relies on certain hardware mods, and has a more direct tactic.

3. Pronoun Pterygota

These are pretty self-explanatory. Small, lightweight, originally colour-coded but -- following controversy -- now generally colourless with a ticker (e.g. "they / them"). Pronoun Pterygota slip forward when they decipher a fresh contact in process, and soon retreat to the discreetest dynamic labyrinth of the dronethick air you could wish for; but should you ignore the datum they've provided, they'll swiftly turn as loyal to your fucking eyes as the summer wasp swarm is to its cider. A cheap, flexible, swarm-based pronomial decorum solution. Pronoun Pterygota are a thing.

4. Face Manager Bat

This winged familiar obsesses over your looks so you don't have to! Not only will you never again futz your Cute Meet with a crumb of tuna on your chin or a dead fly in your side-burn: the real benefits roll in when you install a free ambiance and line-of-sight optimisation ap such as TomTom Nano. Swipe your Face Manager Bat in Mirror Mode, apply one of thousands of fun filters like MySpace Angle or Shadow-Dappled Shepherdess, or just manipulate your cheekbones manually by dragging on the touch-mirror, and simply tap the "What My Crush Sees" button. You'll get real time data via Glass or headphones on how to jut your jaw or incline your nape. No known malware, though certain forms of complex love polygons run the risk of falling into feedback loops from which arise processes like arms races or bidding wars for optimally cute angles. You move, your crushes or transitive crushes move in response, so you move again, and so on. Like sunflowers following a time-lapse Big Bang of all the suns in the universe, you will loll and twirl, your bodies perhaps contorted and laced together, tugged by your elegant questing faces into a tangle, and in a few extremely rare cases, your very bones torn apart, and at the edge of your crush's vision, the light extinguished from your brooding, exquisite, enigmatic eyes.

5. Copatrice

It's not exactly clear where these come from, but they keep coming. They do one thing: follow cops around and broadcast what they're doing. The name is weird: maybe the idea is to turn cops to stone by overwhelming them with their own imagery. Following a series of futile countermeasures, cops just stopped looking like cops. Now anybody could be a cop.

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UPDATE: Check out SUPERFLUX Issue 1: editorial by Warren Ellis and drone fictions by Tim Maughan. Looks intense. See also Superflux's The Drone Aviary at the V&A.

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