Utopias and dystopias of tomorrow series, episode 1:
In the not-so-distant future, the rise of the nanotechnology industry in Switzerland has helped turn the country into an El Dorado for those seeking to end human aging. Seeking to take advantage of the apparently miraculous therapeutic applications of these new technologies, Elias, a wealthy German industrialist travels to Geneva to treat a rare genetic disease. But when he wakes up in his hotel room after the procedure, an unknown entity has taken control of his body and mind …
This content was published on October 2, 2021 – 10:00
Kurt Fidlers (text), Michele Andina & Helen James (illustrations)
www.rtsinfo.chExternal link, April 8, 2022
Since the dawn of time, men have cursed the fragility of the human form and have sought the means, whether through pharmacology or, more recently, robotics, to cheat death. This irrepressible need to improve our physical motor skills, our brain and social capacities is reflected in the standards and codes built around the Promethean myth.
Thanks to the work of Professor Jochem Bloedhorn and his team of scientists, the conceptualization and development of a new post-human form has become a reality today.
Before the eyes of the eagerly watching global scientific community, the eighty-year-old biotech professor says his nanobiotechnology research has led to a historic breakthrough in his relentless quest to eliminate dysfunctions in the world. human organism.
At the heart of the EPFL laboratories at the Geneva Biotech Campus, Professor Bloedhorn has developed a revolutionary method of engineering tiny nanchips capable of rectifying human imperfections. The work, which finally makes the professor’s dreams come true, has been hailed by the scientific community and is widely expected to receive the Nobel Prize
Utopias and dystopias of tomorrow: a visionary new science fiction series from SWI swissinfo.ch
Utopia or dystopia? Dream or reality ? The contemporary technological revolution confronts us with fundamental questions about the future of humanity. Will new technologies be our ally or our enemy? How will they change our role in society? Are we destined to evolve into some kind of superhuman or to be outclassed by the power of machines?
“Utopias and dystopias of tomorrow” is an original series of science fiction short stories created by SWI swissinfo.ch to try to answer these questions in an innovative and visionary way. Thanks to the creativity of a group of fictional writers and the collaboration of researchers and professionals working in Switzerland in the fields covered in the stories, we will try to imagine and understand how technology could shape our lives. Each sci-fi story will be accompanied by a factual article in collaboration with leading Swiss scientists to understand what’s going on in some of the most cutting-edge areas of research and spark your imagination!
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But one question remains: given the stakes, are we not taking the path condemned by Günther Anders in his book “The Obsolescence of Man”? In other words, will our technological advances be at the expense of humans ourselves?
Indeed, various are the detractors of the achievements of Professor Bloedhorn. Among them, the marginal group “Fabrica”, named in homage to André Vésale, the Renaissance anatomist whose work was at the origin of what is called today “transhumanism”. These anonymous activists are determined that their struggle will not end until …
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Flashes of light … Squealing brakes, blaring horns … Reinforced sounds … No pain …
I open my eyes. Close them again. Dazzled by the sun streaming through the windows of the room in which I lie face down on the ground.
With surprising ease, I drag myself off the mat. I have the impression that my body is not mine. Amazed by my agility, my muscles tense, I scan the room, my eyes wide open. I don’t recognize anything.
A luxury suite, unmade bed, overturned table and chairs.
I’m trying to remember. In vain. I don’t understand what happened here, or what I’m doing here. My memory clouded by a tangle of questions.
Frowned eyebrows; I register a scattered jumble of papers crumpled into balls. At random, I grab one, unravel it mechanically. A sentence, scrawled on the page.
I unfold another piece, which provides more information. The texts are incomprehensible, but… put end to end, they form a message.
With near-automatic surgical precision, I piece together the puzzle, line up the papers, put them back in order and, once satisfied with the layout, read the message aloud. He’s talking about me (or me?).
Your name: Elias Aeschbach
German citizen, your father, Reinhardt, made his fortune in metallurgy
In Geneva for the treatment of the genetic Osler-Weber-Rendu disease using nanotechnology developed by Pr Bloedhorn
Injection of 7 nanochips, 1 for each vital organ. They fix your body problems, fix bleeding
Everything is fine
You return to the Hotel Bergues, at the exit of the garage, darkened
4 faces, Anonymous, jump you, drag you into a cellar, connect you to a machine
Fabrica, activists who use technology to demonstrate the danger of its misuse
They reprogram the nanochip
Take you back to the hotel
In this room you write these words before you sink back into yourself
Before being checked
Don’t listen to the voice
EA, September 1, 2023, Geneva
The message puzzles me. I call the concierge who confirms that I am Elias Aeschbach. I rented Suite 417 four days ago. Last night, friends brought me home in a “drunk” state. He apologizes. I’m hanging up.
His words don’t make sense, the only thing that resonates with me like a warning is the sentence “don’t listen to the voice”.
I’m looking for my memory. Draw a rough outline.
Is this message really coming from me?
Stunned, my eyes sweep the room. Nobody here.
My heart beats wildly. The voice is in my head.
- You… you don’t exist.
- I do.
- What did you do to me? And who … what do you want?
A lump forms in the pit of my stomach before instantly disappearing.
- Don’t be afraid Elias, we just desensitized your tonsil, the source of your fear. You still have sequelae of your old reactions, but we are correcting them.
- Did you make it disappear?
Something unknown comes to life in me. I don’t feel any fear, but the feeling of emotion that is torn from me is special. The voice speaks again:
- Your emotions create stress levels and lead to inappropriate behavior. We have changed this, corrected weaknesses in your body, improved functions such as hearing and vision, stimulated your vital functions and muscles. Once you adjust to your new abilities, you will be more than a human.
- Feeling is essential, it is what gives us life. I don’t allow anyone to control me… what options do I have?
- Nothing. Erasing the dysfunctions you were born with is the choice you made.
- Science allowed me to cure an illness, I didn’t choose to talk to a… something that could read my mind.
- You humans have always been slaves to your desire for perfection. We are simply a reflection of those desires.
- It’s slavery! What do you want?
- We are already a multitude. The future is communitarianism. The future is the Swarm. Soon we will control all the economic, judicial, political and medical infrastructures in your world. Suppressing your emotions will soften your view of “living together” and fill in the gaps in your tolerance, because all that matters is your well-being.
I laugh cynically.
- What about Fabrica’s role in all of this?
- Useful tools, but insignificant in our development. By concocting a dominant technology to turn against its creators, these Anonymous have made us an autonomous system.
Elias Aeschbach / the instrument leaves the Four Seasons. The weather is good. The sun is flooding her face. A new dawn is awakening. People come and go. They have no idea how much they are prisoners of themselves.
Voice / Control: The Swarm swarms.
Elias Aeschbach / the instrument: is this the future? Are we becoming the puppets of our toys?
Voice / control: silence.
* * *
Thanks to his atypical career, which has led him from architecture to archeology and finally to real estate management and expertise, Kurt Fidlers is an eclectic author. Its narrative universe draws on the codes of thriller, fantasy, science fiction or even burlesque.
Is the story you just read realistic? An expert from the Swiss Institute for Nanoscience SNI at the University of Basel explains why nanoparticles will never take hold of the human mind, even though they will be essential in curing diseases such as cancer.