High on the right rail of The New York Times’ homepage is a space reserved for opinion pieces. That is where an op-ed piece by Fran Wilde, Director of the Genre Fiction MFA/M.A. track in Western’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing, spent the day Aug. 26 among some of the most renowned opinion columnists in American journalism.
Her piece, a work of fiction titled “Please, Stop Printing Unicorns” was part of the “Op-Eds from the Future” series. The collection features work from science fiction authors, futurists, philosophers and scientists who write op-eds that they imagine humans might be reading in the next 10, 20 or even 100 years.
“Please, Stop Printing Unicorns” opens with the narrator lamenting the accessibility of bioprinting technology after an announcement from fictional Fisher Price Waterhouse. The company intended to sell the machines to children, marketing them in bright, kid-friendly colors. The writer shared that the technology had already incited chaos, as parents allowed—even encouraged—their children to bring creatures from their imagination to very real life.
The narrator’s genuine concern toward the increase of human engineered living beings was heightened after a herd of unicorns caused traffic to grind to a halt in Chicago. They go on to share the challenges created by the midsize T-Rex dinosaurs who proved “impossible to house train” and the “chimeras flying through the neighborhood in distinct violation of the homeowners’ agreement.”
Wilde uses outlandish imagery to evoke laughter from readers, while weaving modern research from the current world of science and engineering throughout. This helps to ground the story in reality. The combination allows for an entertaining, unflinching plea toward consumers to use technology responsibly.
It is a measured move from Wilde, who has a background in tech development and says she learned an important lesson in the early days of her career.
“I was taught that implementing technology while thinking you can control and limit the unforeseen impacts it will have on society is like trying to lasso a tornado,” Wilde said. “There are always risks and benefits and the market—for good and bad—adapts tech to its own whims.”
Wilde’s impulse to capture the spirit of a future where human lives are constantly impacted by ever-changing technological advancements rings true today and almost certainly will continue to ring true in the future.
“I look at new technology [and] at least one third of me thinks ‘What could possible go wrong?’ But I love thinking about the whimsy, too,” Wilde said.
Read the full piece: “Please, Stop Printing Unicorns.”