"brian david johnson"

PWC recommended that corporations should ask science fiction writers about the future

In 2017, Pricewaterhousecooper published Using science fiction to explore business innovation, a guide for corporations that wanted to work with sf writers to think about the future of their businesses; it was part of a wave of corporate interest in the insights of sf writers, which also coincides with a parallel trend in academia (see, for example, ASU's Center for Science and the Imagination and UCSD's Clark Center for Human Imagination, both of which I have some involvement with). Read the rest

How science fiction writers' "design fiction" is playing a greater role in policy debates

Science fiction writers have a long history of intervening/meddling in policy, but historically this has been in the form of right-wing science fiction writers spinning fanciful superweapon ideas like Ronald Reagan's Star Wars system, or the writers who pitched in with the GW Bush team after 9/11 to design the brutal, endless "War on Terror" we're currently mired in. Read the rest

See you tonight, Scottsdale, AZ! (then San Diego, Portland, Seattle...) (!)

Thanks to everyone who came out to last night's Walkaway tour-stop at Houston's Brazos Books; I'm just arriving at the airport to fly to Phoenix for tonight's event at Scottsdale's Poisoned Pen Books with Brian David Johnson. Read the rest

Houston, I'll see you tonight on the Walkaway tour! (then Scottsdale, San Diego, Portland...) (!)

Thanks to everyone who turned up last night for a stellar event at Austin's Book People! I'm about to head to the airport to fly to Houston, where I'll appearing tonight at 7PM at Brazos Books, before heading to Scottsdale, AZ for appearance at Poisoned Pen (with Brian David Johnson) Read the rest

See you tonight in Austin! (then Houston, Scottsdale, San Diego...) (!)

We had a fantastic event last night at Denver's Tattered Cover -- thanks to everyone, especially the Denhack crew, for making it so great -- and now I'm headed to the airport to fly to Austin for an event tonight at Bookpeople with a special guest appearance from EFF-Austin! Read the rest

See you tonight in Winnipeg! (then Denver, Austin, Houston...) (!)

Thanks to everyone who's come out for the Walkaway tour so far! Tonight, I'll be appearing at Winnipeg's McNally Robinson bookstore, then it's off to Denver's Tattered Cover, Austin's Book People and Houston's Brazos Bookstore. Read the rest

Here's the schedule for my 25-city US-Canada Walkaway tour!

There's 25 stops in all on the US/Canada tour for WALKAWAY, my next novel, an "optimistic disaster novel" that comes out on April 25 (more stops coming soon, as well as publication of my UK tour). Read the rest

Intel futurist Brian David Johnson heads to ASU's Center for Science and the Imagination

Brian David Johnson (previously) is the futurist and theorist who used design fiction to help the company think about how its products would work in the future (I wrote him a story about the painful death of passwords). Read the rest

PDX event for "Vintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology"

Hey, Portlandians! Brian David Johnson and James H Carrott are doing a talk and signing for their new book, Vintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology, a fascinating look at the historical significance of steampunk, and an exploration of what the popularity of steampunk today's means about tomorrow's technology, at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell's on March 25 at 7PM.

Steampunk, a mashup in its own right, has gone mainstream, with music videos from the likes of Nicki Minaj; America’s Next Top Model photo shoots; and Prada’s Fall/Winter menswear collection featuring haute couture, steampunk style. Some steampunk fans revile this celebrity. But James H. Carrott, co-author of Vintage Tomorrows, says that’s just how cultural change happens. “Things get appropriated; they affect the culture in some way or another, and the people who are at the heart of trying to make that change move onto the next key idea.”

So what is steampunk, exactly, and why should we care? Carrott, a cultural historian, says “steampunk is playing with the past.” The world that steampunk envisions is a mad-inventor’s collection of 21st century-inspired contraptions, powered by steam and driven by gears. It’s a whole new past; one that has a lot to say about the futures we want to see.

In Vintage Tomorrows, Intel’s resident futurist Brian David Johnson (@IntelFuturist) joins Carrott (@CultHistorian) in a globe-spanning journey to dig beyond definitions and into the heart of this growing subculture. Through interviews with experts such as Margaret Atwood, China Miéville, William Gibson, Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling, and James Gleick, this book looks into steampunk’s vision of old-world craftsmen making beautiful hand-tooled gadgets, and what it means for our age of disposable technology.

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How steampunk can humanize gadgets

Ben sez, "In 'Being More Human,' an essay in the fall/winter issue of Oregon Humanities magazine, Intel futurist and technological optimist Brian David Johnson explains what steampunk has to do creating friendlier, more humanist gadgets."

Steampunk reveals three relationships that people want with their technology. First, they want their technology to have a sense of humor. Humor and jokes give us a way to connect with and understand each other. Also, humor is a great cultural indicator that we understand each other. Studies show that if I can make you laugh, you not only think I’m smarter but also feel a deeper human connection to me. If we want to have a closer relationship to these technologies that are filling our lives, it makes sense that we would want them to get our sense of humor and make us laugh.

Second, people want their technology to have a sense of history. History is the on-ramp to the future. Only by understanding where we have come from can we make sense of where we are going. It might surprise you to realize that a pocket watch is a lot like an iPhone. We carry both around in our pockets. Both give their owners an advantage over other people who may not have them. But there is one difference: a pocket watch was designed to be handed down from generation to generation. An iPhone is designed to be refreshed from generation to generation. For an increasing number of people this doesn’t work. They want their devices to have grounding in history, a connection to the past so we can have a clearer view of our future.

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Vintage Tomorrows -- What Can Playing With the Past Teach Us About the Future?

This book walks through the Steampunk movement and what their alternative history says about our own world and its technological future.

Bruce Sterling talks technology and science fiction with Intel's futurist Brian David Johnson

Intel futurist Brian David Johnson continues his excellent "Tomorrow Project" with the first of a series of videos of his dialog with Bruce Sterling. In this opening installment, Sterling describes the impact that technology had on the science fiction writers of his generation (specifically, what the word processor did to cyberpunk) and how that figured into the process deployed by him and William Gibson as they worked on The Difference Engine.

Embracing the Future – Part 1: Conversation with Bruce Sterling & Brian David Johnson | The Tomorrow Project

(Thanks, Brian!) Read the rest

Interviews with Intel Futurist Brian David Johnson about futurism, society, technology and science fiction

I did a series of interviews with Intel Futurist Brian David Johnson, as part of my involvement in The Tomorrow Project, which resulted in my writing Knights of the Rainbow Table. Here they are! Read the rest

Arizona State U's Emerge: what does it mean to be human?

Aisling sez, "Emerge is an exciting 3 day event of active workshops, thoughtful conversation and keynotes about what it means to be human, hosted at Arizona State University. Featured speakers and active participants include Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson, Bruce Mau, Sherry Turkle and Stewart Brand. Workshop leaders include Julian Bleecker, Stewart Candy, Julie Anand, Gretchen Gano and Brian David Johnson. The Emerge event will culminate in an afternoon festival and a spectacular performance on Saturday, March 3rd." Read the rest

Surfaces - a short story for a thesis on border security

The dilemma of how to reconcile the needs of security with the desire for humanity is the defining question of the twenty-first century.

This sentence opens my thesis, "Loss Prevention: Customer Service as Border Security," written for the strategic foresight and innovation program that I just graduated. I decided to write about the future of border security after my friend and fellow writers' workshop member Peter Watts was beaten, maced, and arrested at the Port Huron border crossing. I remember the decision very clearly. Peter was facing a prison sentence, and I was on the phone with David Nickle. I was in tears. But as we spoke, something overwhelmed my despair. Something hard and sharp enough to cut a path down the centre of my life. An idea. Read the rest

Intel's "Tomorrow Project" -- public conversations about the future of technology

Forbes has a good article on Intel's "Tomorrow Project," wherein Intel Chief Futurist Brian David Johnson gets science fiction writers and technologists to produce materials about the future of technology as part of the company's future product development plans. I've contributed a short story, Knights of the Rainbow Table (about the moment when human-memorizable passwords become trivially computer-guessable), to the accompanying Tomorrow Project Anthology, which launches at NY Comic-Con today.

“It sounds science-fictiony,” he laughs. “But it’s ultimately pragmatic. Chip designs have lead times of 5-10 years, so it’s important to have an understanding of how people will want to to interact with computers. I’m literally working on chips for 2020 right now.”

I obviously couldn’t let it lie there. What do you take into account when planning the future? The answer is both intriguing and quite unlike most futurists I know. Johnson’s first stop is the social sciences. He works with Dr. Genevieve Bell, a cultural anthropologist who has been at Intel since 1998. Their teams work with ethnographers, social scientists, and others to understand the current state of the culture and try to figure out where it’s going.

The next step is then looking at the hardware. Johnson and his team work with computer scientists to look at the current state of the art in hardware, software, and algorithms, as well as the research coming up. The tech data is meshed with the social sciences data to answer a simple question: how can we apply this technology to capture people’s imaginations and make their lives better?

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Intel's Tomorrow Project: prototyping tomorrow's devices with science fiction

The BBC has a good story about Intel's Tomorrow Project, through which Brian David Johnson, Intel's Chief Futurist, gets science fiction writers to produce "science fiction prototypes" that spark discussions in the engineering and product groups. I wrote a novella for Brian, "Knights of the Rainbow Table," which will be going live shortly (Intel publishes the work it commissions for everyone to see and use).

The Tomorrow Project is led by Intel futurist Brian David Johnson, who regards the scheme as an important way to assess future technology trends.

"When we design chips to go into your television, your computers, your phones - we need to do it about five or ten years in advance. We need to have an understanding of what people will want to do with those devices," said Mr Johnson.

"What science fiction does is give us a way to think about the implications of the technologies that we're building, for the people who will actually be using them."

Intel recruits sci-fi writers to dream up future tech Read the rest

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