Your points raise good questions though, Taylor. That’s the way things are. But should it be?
For instance, I don’t believe in aliens, but does that mean I can’t include them in fiction? I tend to think I can. Fiction is, by definition, not real. I also tend to doubt that AI will ever be able to fully mimic human intelligence, but I would have no problem writing that story.
The hitch with aliens is I don’t want to promote an idea I disagree with. But because aliens are such a staple, I don’t think including them in your fiction has to be a statement. It depends on how you write it.
It would depend for me what you get out of adding aliens. As much as I adore Speaker for the Dead for a million other reasons, I don’t really care about it’s philosophy of how to treat alien species because I don’t believe humans will ever meet alien species. However, they built out the exploration of the theme of empathy quite nicely–something I can get behind.
Also, “what if” questions work both ways. Many popular sci-fi what if questions Christians (and many scientists in general) find highly improbable. But if you ignore all those, you’re still left with thousands of plausible or semi-plausible scenarios. You don’t need to believe that the internet of things will develop consciousness for the internet of things to turn the world into something almost unrecognizable.
(btw, totally planning to write a sci-fi short story set hundreds to thousands of years in the future.)