Futurism, Fiction and Blends of the Two
I'm both an analyst of future trends, and a communicator using articles, fiction, presentations and even games to show what might be possible, and where we might be headed
White House Invitation
Above is a photo of some of the Hieroglyph authors taken by Ruth Wylie on October 2, 2014. Left to right are myself, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Edd Finn, Elizabeth Bear, Kevin Bankston, Kathryn Cramer, Vandana Singh, Ted Chiang, Madeline Ashby, Lee Konstantinou, and Neal Stephenson.
The Hieroglyph anthology has certainly had legs. As well as garnering excellent reviews, it recently brought a number of authors and the editors to the White House to talk to the Office of Science and Technology Policy about how to engage a new generation of young people to go into the science and engineering professions.
We also discussed other issues, particularly the future of governance and how to manage thorny issues such as climate change. My own story in the anthology, "Degrees of Freedom," is all about governance, so I was in my element.
This is where science fiction and strategic foresight meet for me--in events like this one. Oddly enough, this is not the first time I've participated in such a hybrid event; much of my history with foresight for the Canadian government and army has involved using my talents as an SF writer to both filter and refine ideas that come from foresight. I did my Masters thesis on how to employ storytelling methods to communicate foresight findings.
This visit to Washington was the capstone to a season of travels and adventures that took me to San Jose in August (for the Cognitive Computing forum), to UCLA in September (for the Digital Cash conference), and most recently to Phoenix for the World Bank's Evoke project. I'm now happily settling in at home to work on a new novel, but hopefully this is just a hiatus and I can get out to more speaking gigs soon.
Recent Futures-Related Talks
- Did game/story design in Phoenix, AZ for the 2014 version of the World Bank's Evoke project, October 22-24, 2014. Evoke is a game designed to educate and empower the world's youth to improve their own lives and those of their communities.
- Hieroglyph book launch in Washington, DC, and invitation to address the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, October 2, 2014.
- Invited speaker at the Future of Digital Cash workshop in Los Angeles, August 27-28, 2014. Bitcoin and beyond--we talked about everything from the history of the receipt to currencies post-bitcoin. Since the event was not recorded, people felt willing to say what they really thought, which made for an eye-opening series of presentations.
- Invited speaker, Cognitive Computing Forum, San Jose CA, August 21-22, 2014. Complete videos of the talks, including mine, are available from the site for a fee. I discussed the idea that our civilization is creating a kind of "artificial unconscious" for ourselves using information technology.
- I was interviewed by Nikola Danaylov for his Singularity 1on1, on May 10, 2012. He caught me at home, where I was relaxed and slouched in an armchair, and talked about futurism, science fiction, and modern mythologies.
--Starting at around 18:00, we talk about the coherence of the notion of the Technological Singularity and what I call "trans-doggism" as opposed to transhumanism, at 53:00;
--At 28:00, we discuss my idea of The Rewilding, a counter to the Singularity;
--And at 46:00, we talk about the future of governance and how technology affects how we govern ourselves.
- Speaker and workshop facilitator at DRDC FIAC Workshop, March 7, 2012, Cornwall Ontario. Defense Research and Development Canada has called on me to present a number of times.
- Speaker and panelist at the 2011 Applied Brilliance conference and workshop, held Jackson Hole, Wyoming, October 11-14, 2011. I spoke about a new branch of philosophy, sometimes called "object oriented" philosophy or speculative realism, that has important things to say at this moment in history.
- Keynote speaker at Bringing Together Communities, an interdisciplinary studies conference at the University of Windsor, February 4, 2011.
- Keynote speaker at DRDC Managers' workshop, April 6-7, 2010.
- Keynote speaker at O'Reilly Publishing's Open Source Conference 2009, held in San Jose, California, July 24, 2009. The subject: "rewilding" the human species.
- Panelist and facilitator at Defense Research & Development Canada's (DRDC)Ideas Factory workshop, June 16, 2010.
- Participant in a televised round-table discussion on the future of space development on TV Ontario's popular show The Agenda. The episode was taped at thePerimeter Institute on October 19, 2009. You can watch it here:
- I was one of 200 invited guests at Science Foo Camp 2009, held at Google headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA, July 9-12, 2009. Other invited guests included George Dyson, Louise Leakey, Lee Smolin, Elon Musk and Peter Diamandis. I gave a seminar on "An alternative to the technological singularity" which was well-received.