Karl Schroeder, a fantastic science fiction author (see this review for a taste of his work) has spent the past two years in a Master's programme in Foresight at the Ontario College of Art and Design. In this guest essay on Charlie Stross's blog, he describes the way that structured study of the future interacts with science fiction. Karl is always the furthest-out guy I know — he was the person I first heard the word "fractal" and "SGML" from, long before they'd entered the popular consciousness.
If you're afraid of being a poor predictor of the near future, you'll avoid writing about it. But what if you were never out to predict in the first place? What if you don't care if a story you set in 2012 gets immediately overtaken by events? What if you set the action there not to predict some event or outcome, but to encourage some action on the part of your readers?
In other words I have a new ambition for my own SF: not as prediction, and not cautionary, either–but aspirational.
The fact is that if I've learned one thing in two years of studying how we think about the future, it's that the one thing that's sorely lacking in the public imagination is positive ideas about where we should be going. We seem to do everything about our future except try to design it. It's a funny thing: nobody ever questions your credentials if you predict doom and destruction. But provide a rosy picture of the future, and people demand that you justify yourself. Increasingly, though, I believe that while warning people of dire possibilities is responsible, providing them with something to aspire to is even more important. The foresight programme has given me a lot of tools to do that in a justifiable way, so I might as well use them.
Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra is what happens when a band is fronted by a robot, named SPO-20, and is backed by a mad scientist (ie. a human). San Diego-based Professor B. Miller is that mad scientist and he is giving Happy Mutants the opportunity to view the music video for band's latest single first. "Sea Anemones […]
In the late 1950s, a truck carrying a cement mixer crashed on E300 Road between Talala and Winganon, Oklahoma. Apparently too heavy for anyone to deal with, the mixer sat for decades where it was occasionally graffitied or whimsically decorated. In 2011, artists Heather and Barry Thomas celebrated their wedding anniversary by transforming the drum […]
In this fun episode of Mark Frauenfelder and Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools podcast, they talk with Lux Sparks-Pescovitz, 14, about his passion for GameBoys, cassettes, DIY sushi, and his new iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit. He's quite an interesting young man; I'd like to meet his parents someday. Listen here: Cool Tools · 234: Lux Sparks-Pescovitz
One million Americans use American Sign Language as their primary means of communication. But as you'd expect, even though ASL is the sixth-most used language in the US, it isn't just any old language like English or Spanish or French. According to Communication Service for the Deaf, 98 percent of Deaf people don't receive education […]
After a successful round of funding on Kickstarter, Fluster: The Social Card Game is now ready to help turn a party or game night into the engaging, surprising, and enlightening social affair you always hoped it would be. A deck of 100 cards, Fluster is chock full of unusual, funny, and thought-provoking questions inspired to […]
Physics may have been that class you sleepwalked your way through in high school. But while it might have just slipped under your radar throughout your academic career, you probably shouldn't have given it such shallow attention. Sure, we could focus on the immediate pluses of a career as a physicist, like the more than […]