Inviting all Eco-Futurists to Bioneers, Oct 17-19/Marin, with Kim Stanley Robinson


Josh writes, "Boing Boing readers and Eco-Futurists are invited to the 25th Annual Bioneers Summit Conference in Marin, CA, October 17-19. Enter BOING4BIONEERS at check out for an exclusive 25% discount!"

Read the rest

Jakub Rozalski's dystopian sci-fi countryside paintings

15301624139_d018e61b49_z

The future bullies its way into the traditional European countryside in German artist Jakub Rozalski's dystopian paintings.

Read the rest

TBD: appreciating a catalog of the banal gadgets of tomorrow

David already posted about the amazing TBD Catalog, which is filled with "design fiction" about the devices of the future; but I just read it and I need to rave about it.

Read the rest

Bruce Sterling's "The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things"

It's a new long-form essay in the tradition of Sterling's must-read, groundbreaking 2005 book Shaping Things, a critical perspective on what it means to have a house full of "smart" stuff that answers to giant corporations and the states that exert leverage over them.

Read the rest

1974 young adult novel that forecasted the politics of drones

1*eHdpKpDLtTnL2StSJH7TYg

Over at Medium's The List, Clive Thompson argues that a 1974 science fiction novel for teens called Danny Dunn, Invisible Boy "nailed everything we’re arguing today about personal drones, privacy, and the danger of government overreach." I can't wait to read the book!

Forecasting versus the stubbornly arbitrary world

In a fascinating long, thinky piece, economist Tim Harford looks at the history of business and political forecasting, trying to understand why both Keynes and his rival Irving Fisher both failed to forecast the Great Depression and were wiped out (and why Keynes managed to bounce back and die a millionaire, while Fisher died in poverty).

Read the rest

Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?

Brian Fies‘s 2012 graphic novel Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? expresses a beautiful, melancholic and hopeful longing for (and suspicion of) the futuristic optimism of America’s 20th century, starting with the 1939 World’s Fair. Cory Doctorow finally got caught up with the future and read it.

Read the rest

TBD: A SkyMall catalog of the future

sample1

Julian Bleecker and his Near Future Laboratory created the smart and provocative TBD Catalog that is essentially a science fiction SkyMall catalog.

When all the jobs belong to robots, do we still need jobs?


Zeynep Tufekci's scathing response to the establishment consensus that tech will create new jobs to replace the ones we've automated away makes a lot of good points.

Read the rest

Charlie Stross on the stop/go nature of technological change

Charlie Stross's keynote speech to the Yet Another Perl Conference is an inspired riff on the weird, gradual-then-sudden nature of technological change. As Charlie points out, almost everything today -- including the people -- was around 20 years ago, and most of what's around now will be around in 20 years. But there will be some changes that would shock your boots off. Improbably, he manages to tie this all into perl programming, which, apparently, is the future of smart sidewalks. Charlie's thoughtfully provided a transcript of his talk, and there's a video for those who prefer to hear his rather good comic delivery.

Read the rest

Podcast: News from the future for Wired UK

Here's a reading (MP3) of a short story I wrote for the July, 2014 issue of Wired UK in the form of a news dispatch from the year 2024 -- specifically, a parliamentary sketch from a raucous Prime Minister's Question Time where a desperate issue of computer security rears its head:

Read the rest

Profile of Norman Bel Geddes, creator of the 1939 New York World's Fair Futurama


Writing in The Believer, B. Alexandra Szerlip offers a fascinating profile of Norman Bel Geddes, the man who built the Futurama at the 1939 New York Worlds' Fair. I didn't know that Bel Geddes had started out with elaborated electro-mechanical games and that these game him the skills and insights he needed to build the Futurama.

Read the rest

How science fiction influences thinking about the future


Eileen Gunn writes, "What's science fiction good for? The May issue of Smithsonian magazine has an essay on the relationship between science, science fiction, and the future by Boing Boing buddy Eileen Gunn. Major writers -- Ursula K. Le Guin, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Samuel R. Delany, Kim Stanley Robinson, Cory Doctorow and others -- talk about why science fiction likes to think about the future and how SF can be used to help scientists think about the uses and ethics of their inventions. The rest of the issue covers science and ethical issues of the near future."

Read the rest

Game developers as brutalized industrial attention-farmers: a look back from tomorrow


Writing to us from the distant future, Ian "Cow Clicker" Bogost describes our modern games industry and the role it will play in the coming downfall of civilization: "Working long before sustenance powders, developers were easily seduced by appeals to their physical urges. Overseers plied them with sugars and salts during the day and forced them to engorge on extravagant meals at night. Shifts extended for days at a time."

Read the rest

Physics of Star Trek author on flying cars and optimism

Flying car 1940s 01 76904 990x742

Over at National Geographic, theoretical physicist Laurence Krauss, author of The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing, gives his quick take on flying cars, space travel, and pessimism:

I'm not very hopeful that humanity can act en masse to address what are now truly global problems that require a new way of thinking. As Einstein said when nuclear weapons were created: "Everything's changed save the way we think."

I think we need to change the way we think to address these global problems. Will it happen? Maybe kicking and screaming. My friend, the writer Cormac McCarthy, told me once: "I'm a pessimist, but that's no reason to be gloomy." In a sense, that's my attitude.

"Sci-Fi Is Cool (Flying Cars! Life on Mars!)—But Real Science is Cooler"