The Great H+ Hoax

I recently run a bit of a social experiment on Singularity Weblog: I wrote two articles which had almost identical titles with the only difference being that one was positive and one was negative. So far the negative article has had over four times more traffic and attention than the positive one.

This outcome is no revelation. It is a well documented fact about one of our most powerful cognitive biases.

Fear seems to be a much stronger motivation than hope. Just like pain seems to be better motivation than pleasure.

So, can we blame the media of exploiting this prehistoric hard-wired bias of ours?!

After all, the media didn’t create the principle that “If it bleeds, it leads and reads.” They just observed what was already out there and began exploiting it to get our attention and, ultimately, make a buck.

The new H+ Digital Series is no different.

Just another unoriginal doom, gloom and “the sky is falling” apocalyptic mini-series.

And why not?! Fear spreads faster than positive thinking. It is easier to write Frankenstein than Abundance.

Why take the hard way?!

Why not paint the darkest, most scary and apocalyptic picture and cash out on a beautiful day like today?!

Throw in some good acting, tons of special FX, a decent sondtrack and you might end up with a blockbuster. But, other than a brief moment of attention and a few silver coins there is really not much there there. As Cory Doctorow notes in Why Science Fiction Movies Drive Me Nuts: “What they lack in depth and introspection, they make up for in polish and craftsmanship.”

The problem is that this kind of attitude, while individually profitable in the short-term, is collectively very damaging in the long term. And it doesn’t have to be like that.

A good sci fi movie costs as much as a bad one. (Anything from almost nothing to infinity.) But it has to dare stand for something other than popcorn. Something that you can’t fake even with all the special FX money can buy. Something positive and original that goes beyond merely spitting over an idea such as transhumanism. Something that brings new and positive contribution to the field rather than regurgitating all the doom and gloom since Frankenstein…

Calling transhumanism the world’s most dangerous idea can be damaging. But doing so without any critical discourse, public debate or alternative points of view, is outright dangerous. It results in popular suspicion, even outright hostility to anything science and you end up with a society of dead, dusty ideas with a great past but no future. So if in the end it turns out that the future really doesn’t need us it would be a future of our own making; a direct result of the choices we make, the actions we take and yes, even the movies we produce and watch today.

The future can be better than we think. But before we can make it happen we must think and believe it. It’s been thousands of years since the first time someone cried “the end is nigh.” Yet we have survived and prospered. It is time to recognize the cry for nothing but a hoax. And the person shouting – nothing but a cheap snake-oil salesman.

H+: The Digital Series

Synopsis: In the future, 33% of the human population will retire their cell phones and laptops in favor of a new technology which connects the human nervous system to the internet. But something dark is coming to threaten this path of accelerating progress…

Episode 1: Driving Under

San Francisco, USA – 5 minutes before it happened

Prologue: Fragments of news reports show a future world as it adopts H+: a radical new way to be connected to information and each other through only your thoughts, via a high-tech implant. While the breakthrough is hotly anticipated by the masses, it is a change not easily adopted by its discontents. We segue to a couple parking their car in an underground airport garage. The husband, Lee, surreptitiously watches a football game on his H+, upsetting his wife Julie who wants him to drive safely. Their domestic squabble is interrupted by a bizarre spectacle throwing their world into chaos

Episode 2: On Their Level

San Francisco, USA – 15 seconds after it happened

Julie and Lee stand shocked at the sudden chaos surrounding them in the lot and then risk a similar fate as Lee goes to aid the fallen people. A mysterious bearded man in glasses, Kenneth, appears and leads a small group down to Level 6, where he insists they’re safe. But some in the group are skeptical of their hero and his theory for what has just happened.

Episode 3: Prophetess 

Helsinki, Finland – 7 years before it happened

A young man, Topi, enters a bar to meet a woman named Manta, who he has chatted with online. Manta plays mysterious, giving Topi a hard time, but Topi may have secrets of his own.

Episode 4: Airport Security 

San Francisco, USA – 1 minute after it happened

With a small group from Level 6 of the parking structure, Kenneth takes Lee’s body to a van to get out of the water from the sprinkler system with the hope he may be able to save him.

Episode 5: A Large Family 

Mumbai, India – 5 months before it happened

Breanna, a hard-charging technology executive, and her husband Connal (both Irish) meet with a doctor, Gurveer, and a young woman, Leena (both Indian), to arrange a surrogate pregnancy. When the introductory meeting turns into something more like an interrogation and Breanna leaves to continue a work call on her H+, Connall tries to make a more human connection.

Episode 6: Voci Dal Sud

Oria, Italy – 2 years after it happened

In a desolate village, Matteo tries to help a man injured in an accident, but realizes getting the medicine he needs will not be easy.

Episode 7: Implanted 

Mumbai, India – 5 months before it happened

Gurveer prepares to implant H+ in Leena so the Sheehans can track her pregnancy from abroad; she’s anxious and asks many questions about the process. Gurveer, who tells her his own body is not compatible with H+, tells her she is lucky…though something else is commanding his attention.

Episode 8: Makeshift Engineering 

San Francisco, USA – 45 minutes after it happened

Kenneth races to save Lee’s life with spare wiring and circuit boards. Francesca, a soon to be a board-certified neurologist, objects to Kenneth’s methods and can’t believe what she’s seeing.

Episode 9: The Snow Viper 

Helsinki, Finland – 7 years before it happened

Topi, now in a physical relationship with Manta, goes to a crime scene which is technically out of his office’s jurisdiction. His boss holds him back, but a look at the victim offers a tantalizing clue.

Episode 10: Out 

San Francisco, USA – 50 minutes after it happened

Kenneth tells the small group to plan for a week below, and tries to stop an angry survivor from leaving, only to be accused of being a terrorist. Just as he needs good news, he’s pulled away to examine Lee whose condition has changed.

Episode 11: Manta 

Helsinki, Finland – 7 years before it happened

Topi and Manta hike, sharing a growing intimacy – but Manta won’t reveal anything about a particular subject.

Episode 12: Searching Over 

San Francisco, USA – 20 hours after it happened

In a quiet moment, Francesca asks to get the truth out of Kenneth. How does he know so much about H+? Meanwhile, a group of survivors searches for Kenneth.

Episode 13: Questions 

Porland, Oregon, USA – 5 years before it happened

Breanna, after pitching her new software venture to a corporate boardroom, later privately meets with a younger, clean-shaven Kenneth to offer an opportunity.

Episode 14: The Gates

San Vito, Italy – 2 years after it happened

Someone with an interface observes Matteo outside the gates of a base. Later, Matteo returns home and has a flash of insight.

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