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Swift
2005-Nov-30, 05:25 PM
harlequin's Nuclear War thread over in Small Media got me thinking, what science fiction TV or movie most likely reflects what the actual future will be like? I don't mean in the details, since it seems obvious to me that some of the events in the Star Trek universe, for example, should have already happened. I am talking more in the "personality" or "style" of the future. And I don't mean what you would like, but what you think will actually happen.

weatherc
2005-Nov-30, 05:56 PM
I voted Babylon 5, because it seemed to be a good representation of what the future might be like.

Star Trek is too utopic in its vision of the future, where nobody is poor, and everyone is happy and self-actualized. Blade Runner is too dystopic a view of the future, where everything is dark, polluted, and depressing.

Bablyon 5 seems to take a more neutral view. There are rich people, poor people, straight arrows, alcoholics, and everyone in between. The technology is more advanced, but it hasn't changed human nature in any fundamental way; the technology is just a set of tools that are part of everyone's lives. The politics and human interactions are the same as they have always been, and probably always will be. So I guess I could say that I think that the future will be just like now, only different.

Note: Dune is too far into the future (it starts off more than 10,000 years after the start of interstellar space travel, so it's waaaaay out there) to really say whether or not it is a good depiction of what the future could be like.

Swift
2005-Nov-30, 06:19 PM
I agree completely weatherc. The themes in Dune I find interesting are the rejection of various aspects of technology (but not all) and the return of a monarchy/empire type of government (both for individual planets and the whole empire). It seems most science fiction assumes that we will have democracies in the future.

When I read Dune back when it was first published, the idea of a jihad was new to me. It seems relevant to the world we live in today.

Sam5
2005-Nov-30, 06:27 PM
harlequin's Nuclear War thread over in Small Media got me thinking, what science fiction TV or movie most likely reflects what the actual future will be like? I don't mean in the details, since it seems obvious to me that some of the events in the Star Trek universe, for example, should have already happened.

Well, we finally got those little flip-lid cell phones!

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-30, 06:30 PM
I said "other" because I figure that my own view of science fiction future is a bit more realistic than all of them.

Argos
2005-Nov-30, 06:37 PM
A mix of Dune and Blade Runner. Disgusting, anyway. And I´m pleased that it´s not going to be my future.

Sam5
2005-Nov-30, 06:47 PM
Blade Runner is too dystopic a view of the future, where everything is dark, polluted, and depressing.


I’ll vote for Blade Runner, because many of the world’s big cities already look like the city in Blade Runner.... dark, gloomy, smog, overcrowded, mixed foreigners, people struggling to survive, capitalists living above the streets in high-rise offices and apartments, shoot-outs on the streets, helicopters flying overhead watching the people, etc., etc. However, I don’t think we’ll have human-like robots in the future, since companies already have poor starving humans from around the world who they can hire to do the menial jobs. In 30 years we'll have 5 billion more of them. Parts of Los Angeles already look like the scenes from Blade Runner. The same for parts of Mexico City and other major world cities. Parts of Hong Kong and Shanghai already looked like that 70 years ago.

Bob
2005-Nov-30, 07:12 PM
"A Boy and his Dog"

Philip A
2005-Nov-30, 07:20 PM
Blade Runner. We're half way there already.

Dark Jaguar
2005-Nov-30, 07:23 PM
Space Quest

I intend to take up the new universal money standard of "Buckazoids" ASAP.

ToSeek
2005-Nov-30, 08:07 PM
Parts of Manhattan already look like Blade Runner.

weatherc
2005-Nov-30, 08:43 PM
Parts of Manhattan already look like Blade Runner.
Yes, but there are HUGE swaths of the U.S. that don't look anything like Blade Runner, and never will. That's why I don't think it's an accurate portrayal of the future, because it only shows what life is like in one crappy city. In fact, as technology progresses and becomes cleaner, this view looks even less accurate. Even Los Angeles and New York City have less smog than 20 years ago, because car engines keep getting cleaner; it is reasonable to think that this trend will continue, especially as the technology gets cheaper to produce.

In addition, while population growth is expected to continue for the near future (the next hundred years), trends are already showing that as more nations become richer and more industrialized, their population growth is slowing. It is speculated that after about AD 2100, the global population will actually begin to decrease. Therefore, by the time that we hit the time period of Babylon 5 or Star Trek, it is possible that the human population could be substantially less than it is now, which further invalidates the vision of Blade Runner in my mind.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Nov-30, 08:47 PM
Yep. I'm going with Babylon 5 as well.

George
2005-Nov-30, 08:51 PM
It will probably be a mixture of all the above. We'll find something useful in the Sahara, even if it's just a place for not-so-free men; as ToSeek says, we have some blade runner now. I chose the optimistic Star Trek approach.

Metricyard
2005-Nov-30, 08:57 PM
B5 all the way.
The Earth technology looks about right for 200 years in the future.

And people as a group haven't changed much in 2000 years, so I can't see any major changes in 200 years either.

A Star Trek future, while a nice idea, would never happen. I would think that if all the worlds problems ever get solved, the human race would slowly die of bordom.

Gullible Jones
2005-Nov-30, 09:29 PM
If it's been thought up, it's probably wrong. The universes depicted in Bear's Queen of Angels series could be close, I suppose, although I would think that nanotech would be less blatantly visible.

farmerjumperdon
2005-Nov-30, 10:18 PM
I'd like it to be Star Trek, but see nothing in our learning curve to keep it from being like Blade Runner. As many have said, we are well along the way - at least in behaviors and appearances - which is why I live in the boonies and plan to stay here. Nothing against city-folk, I've lived in the heart of a few large cities myself, but could never go back myself. Or at least if I did it would be very tough. Don't mean to stray but it just seems funny that when I saw Blade Runner it seemed the best attempt at the time to depict a realistic future. Now here I am, several years down the road depicted at the end of the movie. (Except my wife is not a robot).

Van Rijn
2005-Nov-30, 10:39 PM
I picked "other." I think technology will advance far more and in very different ways than shown in any of these series/movies. I don't expect we'll be leaving the solar system any time soon, but I do think self replicating machines will be a given within this century, as well as advanced biotechnology. Advanced nanotech and AI are big question marks: I'm not betting on them soon, but when they happen, the changes they would cause would be bigger than anything else in our history.

Socially, I don't expect as dark a future as Bladerunner, or as goody-goody as Star Trek, but it will be different from any of the examples.

Swift
2005-Nov-30, 10:49 PM
<snip>
I think technology will advance far more and in very different ways than shown in any of these series/movies. I don't expect we'll be leaving the solar system any time soon, but I do think self replicating machines will be a given within this century, as well as advanced biotechnology. Advanced nanotech and AI are big question marks: I'm not betting on them soon, but when they happen, the changes they would cause would be bigger than anything else in our history.

Excellent point and one probably worthy of another thread. Relatively few science fiction writers seem to have addressed this, but some have. I seem to recall one writer talking about the idea; in his universe psychiatry had turned into a science as exact as engineering, because of some key breakthroughs, and other things, like space travel, turned out to be much more difficult than anticipated because of a few key bottlenecks.

I think the real world example of this is computers. For the most part, science fiction from the 50s and 60s completely messed up on predicting the computers of today - they either predicted HAL and walking robots, or giant mainframes with tape drives. The current state of office/home personal computers was not predicted (I'm sure someone will point out an exception).

As little as written science fiction has discussed it, TV and movies have pretty much ignored it completely. They all take it as a given that we'll have FTL drives, for example.

LurchGS
2005-Nov-30, 10:50 PM
I didn't pick any on the list - the *closest* is probably B5... it does seem pretty much 'today with cooler toys', which is what I expect. The big war in space thing, though... that bugs me a bit. Just doesn't seem... reasonable for some reason I am having difficulty putting my finger on at the moment

Doodler
2005-Nov-30, 10:55 PM
I think Space: Above and Beyond will probably end up being the closest to accurate.

We're on the threshold of wholesale human cloning, AI isn't THAT far out and robotics are finally starting to leap forward.

ToSeek
2005-Nov-30, 11:08 PM
Yes, but there are HUGE swaths of the U.S. that don't look anything like Blade Runner, and never will. That's why I don't think it's an accurate portrayal of the future, because it only shows what life is like in one crappy city.

At least in the version I saw, there was some countryside as well, right at the end. Talk about a breath of fresh air!


In fact, as technology progresses and becomes cleaner, this view looks even less accurate. Even Los Angeles and New York City have less smog than 20 years ago, because car engines keep getting cleaner; it is reasonable to think that this trend will continue, especially as the technology gets cheaper to produce.

I was thinking of the ubiquitous neon more than anything else, as well as the claustrophobia I already experience while in Manhattan.

isferno
2005-Nov-30, 11:22 PM
I choose other, not because i know of an alternative, but because none of the series or films seems to fit with my idea of the near future of this millenia.

That is .. no helping aliens who finaly decide to land their UFO on a US military base. No Grain circles with hidden formulas how to build our spaceships or no secrets from the past which catch as seen with Danikken's historical (but not less interresting) research.

Just a human struggle which started with the (accidental) melting of ore some 10 millenia ago, later followed by a bronze, iron and atomic age and will continue in the same fashion as China, India, Iran and others will join in space.

Donnie B.
2005-Dec-01, 12:45 AM
I picked "other" as a protest that Firefly/Serenity was left off the list! ;)

TheBlackCat
2005-Dec-01, 02:03 AM
I put "other". I see Alien/Aliens/Alien 3 being a pretty realistic look at the future (although the space travel is somewhat questionable). Corporations run everything (although government still exists, it bows to corporate pressure), people all in all are pretty cynical and selfish, things aren't too pretty but aren't too dismal either, the design of everything is very practical and economical, military has more of a role of stopping terrorist and rogue groups and protecting assests rather than fighting large-scale wars (and the military technology and organization reflects that), etc.

Arneb
2005-Dec-01, 03:41 AM
Ursula K. LeGuin said that Science Fiction is never about the future, always about the present.

Considering the road this world seems to be taking at the moment, I voted for Blade Runner. But hey, even the world according to Star Trek went through that phase (less than 20 years from now, if you follow Commander Sisko (http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/series/DS9/episode/68196.html)). So there might still be hope....:think:

Chuck
2005-Dec-01, 03:48 AM
I picked Blade Runner. I don't see us having faster than light travel any time soon. Maybe never.

ASEI
2005-Dec-01, 04:59 AM
I think the following will be differences in our future not adressed in most science fiction:

A lot of science fiction oversimplifies the societies and culture of a specific time, usually showcasing a few technologies and their predicted imact (which is usually wildly utopian or dystopian), while either supressing all other aspects of a society, or assuming all other aspects of a society will be the same. Civilization is a very complex thing, composed of millions of people and thousands of disciplines. All have advanced from previous eras. I think we can expect advancements of greater or lesser degrees in all future professions as well, simultaneously, as well as new professions. Rather than just advanced space travel, for example, what about advanced maintenence, advanced city planning (smog choked cantonment dystopias might be offset), advanced transportation systems (without resorting to magic flying cars), mining practices, education methods, more advanced and transparent methods for analyzing and modeling policies, economics, history, psychology, methods to educate people faster, to publish more widely, ect ect. But all at once, rather than seperate or one at a time.

Furthermore, I think we have reason to believe that civilizations will become less homogenous, not more, especially if you posit an increasing population. Single-lifestyle, single-culture societies don't make much sense in light of our modern era.

I also expect us to be dealing with the immediate inner solar system long before we set off to cruise the galaxy. For that matter, if earth has multiple non-homogenous nations or societies, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine multiple nations on Mars or the moon (perhaps starting as seperate colonies for each of the nations here).

One of the interesting applications for computers is to model complex systems that couldn't be modeled through conventional methods (diffeqs impossible to solve, or matrices too large to invert, or nonlinearities that made the problems insoluble). We're developing models in engineering to take advantage of this. Computers can be used not only to simulate the design of complex systems, but to optimize them as well - to seek out all the best solutions to a particular problem for given design criteria.
If we can get a good enough model for a system going, we could probably use computers to optimize it. What would a country with a computer-optimized macro-economic policy look like? Transportation system? How about an optimized buisness plan, or a computer generated and moderated decision making organization?

This is a biggie:
Computer sureillance and monitoring doesn't always have to be tools for dystopian oppression. What about computer surveillance 24/7 of public officials, and computer aided watchdog monitoring to alert citizens of officials who abuse their office, or embezzle money? What if you could ask for the names of all public officials in a certain sector, and pull up a list of all their important decisions, the amount of time they waste at the office, any discrepancies in their behavior, ect. It could lead to a massive increase in government accountability if handled correctly.
Imagine a future society where anyone's records could be pulled up for review. Where politicians feel obligated to write essays justifying their stance on issues so that the public can follow their reasoning, and where betrayals and backstabs, as well as mundane wastefulness, or laziness, are duly noted by respective watchdog groups. What if the respective politicians could be bound by contract to their voters to follow the policies that they ran on, and graded on their performance.
How about if electronic electorial procedures are made so fast and efficient, that people could rapidly elect or replace any office of their government at a much higher turnover rate than present term limits?

Just rambling on a bit.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Dec-01, 05:33 AM
The computers as decision-makers thing has been done by Asimov. You might want to take a look. Pretty good read.

Ilya
2005-Dec-01, 06:10 AM
I picked "other" for much the same reasons as TheBlackCat. The book (not movie!) I think depicts the most likely future is "Pandora's Star" by Peter Hamilton -- discounting interstellar gate travel. In PS there are still rich and poor; the "poor" are healthier and live longer than anyone today but that fact gives them little happiness as the rich (and even middle class) live forever. That is, people age, but can be rejuvenated -- and the procedure costs, relative to incomes, about what a house costs now. The rich can easily afford it every 20 years or so, and even middle-class people, with some financial planning, restore youth every 40-50 years. There are still religious nuts, Marxists, various terrorists, but no large-scale wars. Cultural variation is tremendous, which I think is a nice touch -- it's blatantly obvious that homogenuity envisioned by so many 20th Century SF writers and futurists is NOT coming. Cybernetic implants and genetic modifications are commonplace, many of them partly or entirely cosmetic, many others very functional and often very deadly. People who today hire bodyguards in PS world may still have bodyguards, but their real armament is on and IN their own bodies. Brain-to-computer interface has been perfected, and everyone wears a complete memory copy inside their skulls. If you die, a clone is grown, and the contents of your memory backup are played into clone's brain -- in effect, you wake up in a 14-year old body (and yes, clone growth takes almost that long). If your death destroyed the skull-chip, the latest backup is used -- and most people are carefult to backup their memories every few months. One consequence is that only the poor and the very rich have children -- the poor need children to take care of them in the old age, and the very rich need them to help run their financial empires. Middle class people neither need children, nor can really afford to raise them.

Curiously, fear of death has largely disappeared. Almost everyone really believes that the clone who wakes up with his or her memories is really HIM or HER. I think such belief is plausible. People WANT to believe that death is not forever, and this particular escape venue is a lot more tangible than those offered in the past.

Egarim
2005-Dec-01, 07:00 AM
I like authors Alastair Reynolds(Chasm City, Revelation Space, etc.) or John C. Wrights(The Golden Age) visions of the future. Both deal with alot of nano tech but Reynolds world is more physical with more modding of the body while Wrights is more virtual with making the world look and feel how you want at all times. Space travel for both is very slow and difficult.
I don't know Wrights background but I know Reynolds has a Phd is Astronomy and used to (still might) work for the European Space Agency.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Dec-01, 07:23 AM
I like Reynolds' work. I just don't really like the excessive nanotech.

Egarim
2005-Dec-01, 09:17 AM
I like Reynolds' work. I just don't really like the excessive nanotech.
Agreed. Sometimes there's a bit too much. Also, the books I read atleast, Chasm City and Revelation Space, felt a little drawn out towards the end and then the endings themselves were'nt as good as I was hoping.

Gullible Jones
2005-Dec-01, 11:15 AM
The Chasm City universe is another one that looks as though it could actually happen. Much of Reynold's nanotech appears to be quite impossible thermodynamically, though.

jumbo
2005-Dec-01, 12:13 PM
Of the ones on the list blade runner seems closest to me. Though its date of 2019 may be out.
No FTL travel yet and people living on top of each other. Perhaps they wont be replicants but people genetically altered that will be the big concern.



At least in the version I saw, there was some countryside as well, right at the end. Talk about a breath of fresh air!
Thats one of the theatrical version. Teh directors cut doesnt include this footage as it was only tacked onto the film as a happy ending due to some test audiences reaction. The footage wsas actually from the shinning rather than filmed for blade runner. Im guessing the version you saw also had Harrison Ford narrating too. The directors cut to me feels more satisfying despite being without a final happy ending.

banquo's_bumble_puppy
2005-Dec-01, 04:50 PM
In many ways I think our technology has already outstripped even recent scince fiction such as Voyager or TNG. It is interesting that nano technology never figured in a big way in any of the Trek series. I think our future will most closely resemble Neuromancer or Snow Crash...

ASEI
2005-Dec-01, 06:26 PM
The computers as decision-makers thing has been done by Asimov

Yeah, but Asimov had his nicey-nice robotic laws. It may end up being impossible to program an artificial intelligence or neural network program in such a direct way. But more importantly, AI technology will probably be driven by potential military applications, instantly tossing the 1st law out.

I also tend to think of life-extension technology as being a leveller. Suspicions that it will be monopolized by the manipulative rich is inconsistent with the fact that such technology would have a near infinite demand, making anyone who finds a way to do it cheaper and broaden the population base that recieves it instantly rich and politically powerful. If you could make the population immortal, no one could stand in the way and politically live in a democratic, or even remotely capitalist society. Furthermore, it would be a leveller in another fashion - no matter where you start on the social ladder, you can probably get anywhere else with 50+ years of constant effort. So even if you're a janitor with no degrees, you can take solace in the fact that with hard work and a little luck, in 50 years or so, you could be the boss of the company whose floors you currently sweep. And there would be motivation not to give you too raw a deal, or unfairly exploit you in too many ways, because someday you could always end up as powerful.

Of course the population would explode, making expansion into space or some other means of dealing with it necessary.

SolusLupus
2005-Dec-01, 06:33 PM
I don't get why we'd need Sapient AI for military applications. I'd figure that the most you'd need is just a very advanced autopilot.

TheBlackCat
2005-Dec-01, 07:12 PM
I don't get why we'd need Sapient AI for military applications. I'd figure that the most you'd need is just a very advanced autopilot.
Certainly. With a sapient AI you likely have most or all of the human drawbacks that led the military to want to use robots in the first place. Something that doesn't get bored, doesn't need to rest, doesn't get distracted, doesn't have emotion, doesn't ignore orders, and can only make relatively simple decisions on its own is probably what the military would want from an AI combat system.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Dec-01, 07:18 PM
It's all that I'd want from something that has control of weapons. I wouldn't want an AI getting any ideas about being superior to us...

Ilya
2005-Dec-01, 07:44 PM
I’ll vote for Blade Runner, because many of the world’s big cities already look like the city in Blade Runner.... dark, gloomy, smog, overcrowded, mixed foreigners, people struggling to survive, capitalists living above the streets in high-rise offices and apartments, shoot-outs on the streets, helicopters flying overhead watching the people, etc., etc. However, I don’t think we’ll have human-like robots in the future, since companies already have poor starving humans from around the world who they can hire to do the menial jobs. In 30 years we'll have 5 billion more of them. Parts of Los Angeles already look like the scenes from Blade Runner. The same for parts of Mexico City and other major world cities. Parts of Hong Kong and Shanghai already looked like that 70 years ago.
What's that fascination with urban dystopias? Sure, there are cities (or rather, parts of cities) in the world which look like Blade Runner or Robocop, but they are shrinking, not growing! Not sure what you meant by "parts of Hong Kong and Shanghai already looked like that 70 years ago." 70 years ago they were dirty, smelly, full of crime, corruption and social inequality-- like every other city in the world! The fact that majority of cities today are NOT like that is the sign that we are moving away from Blade Runner, not toward it.

And contrary to Robocop or Lethal Weapon movies, urban criminals have neither latest military hardware, nor military discipline.

agingjb
2005-Dec-01, 08:26 PM
Two dystopias (sorry) that seem all too likely are (the premise of) Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons", and Wells' Eloi and Morlocks in "The Time Machine".

Borealis
2005-Dec-01, 09:31 PM
I picked "other," mostly because my favorite Future History is Larry Niven's-- evn with the Kzinti.

Van Rijn
2005-Dec-01, 11:48 PM
Certainly. With a sapient AI you likely have most or all of the human drawbacks that led the military to want to use robots in the first place. Something that doesn't get bored, doesn't need to rest, doesn't get distracted, doesn't have emotion, doesn't ignore orders, and can only make relatively simple decisions on its own is probably what the military would want from an AI combat system.

Sapient doesn't necessarily mean human. And there are other applications. Probably the most dangerous (but also useful) would be a "wishing machine": A system that could be given general instructions "I want a fighter jet with such and so capability" and could act like a design team, then build the jet in a robotic factory (or perhaps nanobot tank) on its own. Or it could build a new automobile, telescope, spacecraft, etc. If it is intelligent enough, it could short circuit the whole research and development process, leading to incredibly rapid scientific and technological development.

This could be good or bad, but I just know people are thinking of the Terminator movies right about now ... :)

Van Rijn
2005-Dec-01, 11:56 PM
If you could make the population immortal, no one could stand in the way and politically live in a democratic, or even remotely capitalist society.

Could you explain your thinking on this? I don't see how that would follow at all. I don't want to get into politics, but since this is a hypothetical/technology issue ...

LurchGS
2005-Dec-02, 12:07 AM
--snip--

I also tend to think of life-extension technology as being a leveller. Suspicions that it will be monopolized by the manipulative rich is inconsistent with the fact that such technology would have a near infinite demand, making anyone who finds a way to do it cheaper and broaden the population base that recieves it instantly rich and politically powerful. If you could make the population immortal, no one could stand in the way and politically live in a democratic, or even remotely capitalist society.

Of course the population would explode, making expansion into space or some other means of dealing with it necessary.

I'm not sure I follow that... if everybody can live essentially forever, you think some form of monarchy or autocracy will develop? Even if the government didn't steal the formula or suppress it, there is no realistic way to keep the formula a secret. There would be dozens, if not thousands, of other companies reverse engineering the formulation. Competition would drive the price down, and in fairly short order, everybody would have access to it. No single company/government/man could hold significant power with it for long.

Population might or might not explode - depends on what other biological effects the treatment has. Is it ineffective after age 40? (Tree of life), does it halt aging before 90? Does it reverse aging to a certain point (Oh how I wish!). Does treatment effectively sterilize the recipient?

if we assume the 'worst' - aging is reversed to an apparent early 20s physiology - yup, poopulation would explode - unless the government stepped in with motherhood laws (1 child per parent sorta thing).

Now we COULD leave the solar system. That woudl be tres cool

ASEI
2005-Dec-02, 02:23 AM
I'm not sure I follow that... if everybody can live essentially forever, you think some form of monarchy or autocracy will develop? No, that's what I mean - life-extending technologies are likely not to be monopolized or to result in autocracies for the reasons you stated. I'm talking about politicians that stand in the way not being able to politically survive in a capitalist or democratic society, not the citizens who demand the technology. Should have phrased it batter.

ASEI
2005-Dec-03, 09:17 PM
If the population were effectively immortal, then barring any significant rate of accidental death (and this may be significant), any non-zero birth rate will result in population growth. Not that population growth is always a problem. I think that society is richer for a properly supported population, and if we had the infastructure to do it, we could possibly handle far more people on the earth (2 or 3 times more) and end up richer for it. But they do have to be properly supported - attempting to support modern levels of population with medievel levels of technology, for example, wouldn't work.

One of the interesting applications for space colonization is that the technology that would allow us to colonize space: namely highly effective recycling technology for life support, and highly effective technology for utilizing resources would make living here on earth easier as well. If we could support a population on the barren deserts of most planets in the solar system, we can easily do it here on Earth, with it's quadrillions of tons of water/carbon/nitrogen and other useful materials. The ability to settle space in a self sufficient manner implies the ability to support arbitrary populations here on Earth. Whether or not we'd want to support arbitrarily large populations is another thing, but we'd at least be able to.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Dec-03, 09:25 PM
I voted for Blade Runner, but The Space Merchants (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312749511/qid=1133641122/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-8002099-0620955?n=507846&s=books&v=glance) may be even closer.

mugaliens
2005-Dec-04, 11:11 PM
Wet, dreary, dark, rainy cities are the norm now. Why think different stuff?