One Science Fiction Author’s Tech Predictions for 2023

Robin Sloan has some intriguing recommendations

Futuristic image
What do writers who anticipate the future think we should be expecting?

There are, as of this writing, all of two weeks remaining in the year 2022 — and when it comes to technology, it’s a moment in time that could accurately be described as “tumultuous.” That’s especially true in the realm of social media, where Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter has led many users to consider alternatives and some of Twitter’s recent actions have alarmed experts in antitrust law.

So, who might provide some useful guidance as we gaze into the coming year? How about Robin Sloan, who has written about the tech world in his novels and who maintains a lab newsletter which he describes as geared towards “subscribers who feel invested in the future of the internet who also have the capacity, and/or curiosity, to tinker on new projects.”

Sloan’s observation on books, media and technology in his science fiction novel Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore continue to resonate a decade after it was first published — making his thoughts on the future worth taking note of.

The latest installment of Sloan’s lab newsletter focuses on the year to come, and offers plenty of grounds for technological optimism for those with a penchant for exploration and discovery. “It is 2003 again,” Sloan writes. “Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram haven’t been invented yet … except, it’s also 2023, and they have, so you can learn from their rise and ruin.”

Sloan points to the work being done by The Browser Company of New York as something that imaginatively updates what a web browser could be. If there’s an overarching theme to this installment of his newsletter, it’s arguably the importance of curiosity — whether that’s for looking into long-standing online features that could become something new or seeing what could emerge from overlay networks, whether in a single space or used by a group of colleagues and collaborators.

There’s a lot to ponder here. With a new year dawning, maybe Sloan’s recommendations will spark something intriguing for you in the months to come.

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