I was lucky enough to meet M.T. Anderson, 2009 recipient of YALSA’s Best Books For Young Adults, this week at the library where I work. He was gracious enough to grant an interview for The Hub. With dystopian as the hot thing right now, I wanted to know where he thinks we are going, as readers, and how technology is changing us.
Science fiction often says more about the time period it was written than the imagined future society. What parallels do you see between our current social experience and your imagined world?
I wrote the book back in 2001, and, in my mind, it was actually already about the world I saw back then: a world where I didn’t even have to have a chip installed in my skull — I already heard the voice of advertising all the time, speaking in my thoughts and dreams.
Do you feel current technology is catching up with Feed? For example, the way advertising is sent directly to us on our Facebook pages?
Technological experimentation is making “feeds” more possible every day, at a speed that I find somewhat surprising and disconcerting. For several years now, neuro-electrical scans have mapped what a buying frenzy looks like in the brain. And as of this year, we have managed to transfer movement impulses between humans over a cyberlink. We can force rats to “remember” impulses that they’ve never encountered before by digitally, and then neurologically, encoding those impulses. Intel says they want chips in consumers’ heads by 2020. These products could soon be a reality.