Over at io9, SF writer Charlie Jane Anders has written a fascinating post about technological and societal changes, the interconnected relationships between the two, and how this ties into imagining fictional futures:
“People sometimes talk about the distinction between ‘hard science fiction’ and ‘social science fiction.’ The former focuses on science and technology, the latter on social science, and on speculations about future societies or different cultures. (As opposed to ‘soft science fiction,’ where the science is less rigorous.)
But there’s a bit of a false dichotomy involved in making such a clear-cut distinction — just look out your window or take a walk down the street if you don’t believe me. New technologies, including smartphones but also including the relatively portable ultrasound machine, have changed our world in all sorts of ways. But those technological shifts have happened at the same time as massive social change, and it’s hard to separate the two threads.
Tech changes society, but society shapes tech. That is, social change and technological change go hand in hand, but neither one drives the other.”