Bruce Sterling: science fiction won't make the future better

Bruce Sterling is one of the foremost advocates of design fiction and the use of science fiction as a tool for understanding and influencing the world, but despite yesterday's long, positive article praising many of the projects he's involved with, he's skeptical of the idea that science fiction makes the future better. 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

"Artisanal" Nintendo console cartridge hacker creates impossible alternate history games

Josh Jacobson is a Nintendo cartridge hacker who makes homebrew cartridges for games that were never released for NES/SNES, complete with label art and colored plastic cases that makes them look like they came from an alternate universe where (for example), there was a Nintendo version of Sonic the Hedgehog. Read the rest

A potential college course on detecting and combating bullshit in all its forms

University of Washington profs Carl T. Bergstrom (Biology) and Jevin West (Information School) have proposed a course called "Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data" that characterizes "the majority of administrative activity" as "sophisticated exercise(s) in the combinatorial reassembly of bullshit" and aims to train students to "navigate the bullshit-rich modern environment by identifying bullshit, seeing through it, and combatting it with effective analysis and argument." Read the rest

Free audiobook of Car Wars, my self-driving car/crypto back-door apocalypse story

Last month, Melbourne's Deakin University published Car Wars, a short story I wrote to inspire thinking and discussion about the engineering ethics questions in self-driving car design, moving beyond the trite and largely irrelevant trolley problem. Read the rest

Call for submissions for Disobedient Electronics

"'Disobedient Electronics' is a zine-oriented publishing project that seeks submissions from industrial designers, electronic artists, hackers and makers that disobey conventions, especially work that is used to highlight injustices, discrimination or abuses of power." Read the rest

What is "design fiction?"

I've been writing "design fiction" for years (see, for example, Knights of the Rainbow Table), and when people ask me to explain it, I say something like, "An engineer might make a prototype to give you a sense of how something works; an architect will do a fly-through to give you a sense of its spatial properties; fiction writers produce design fiction to give you a sense of how a technology might feel." Read the rest

Design fiction, the Internet of Women's things, and futurism

Jasmina Tesanovic (previously) and Bruce Sterling did a residency at The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UCSD, working with the students on design fiction and futurism. Read the rest

8-Bit Cinema: great films reimagined as classic video games

We've featured David Dutton's 8-Bit Cinema many times over the past 8 years, but this astounding showreel demonstrates that his canon is wider, deeper and cooler that you might realize. Read the rest

To hell with the Trolley Problem: here's a much more interesting list of self-driving car weirdnesses

Jan Chipchase has assembled a provocative, imaginative, excellent list of "driver behaviors in a world of autonomous mobility" that go far beyond the lazy exercise of porting the "trolley problem" to self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles, including flying drones. Read the rest

Frankenstein turns 200 this year: write a short story, win cool prizes

Arizona State University, Nanowrimo, and the Chabot Science Center are commemorating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with a series of events, including a short-story contest judged by Elizabeth Bear. Read the rest

Charlie Stross talks science fiction and policy in DC next week

My former EFF colleague Kevin Bankston writes, "For Boing Boing readers in the Washington DC area, here’s a great event: this coming Tuesday, science fiction writer (and Cory's occasional collaborator) Charlie Stross will be doing a happy hour interview at think tank New America. He’ll be talking about cross-pollination between science fiction and real tech and policy with Kevin Bankston, who runs New America’s tech policy shop the Open Technology Institute." Read the rest

Boston Globe previews a front page from the Trump presidency

The Boston Globe's front page today is a piece of design fiction that offers a glimpse of the first days of a Trump presidency, with headlines like "DEPORTATIONS TO BEGIN: President Trump calls for tripling of ICE force; riots continue"; "Curfews extended in multiple cities"; "Markets sink as trade war looms"; "US soldiers refuse orders to kill ISIS families"; and many sly digs, including the news that "NASA engineers halted the launch of an unmanned probe amid fears that its new gold leaf trim would interfere with radio communications." Read the rest

A perfect storm of broken business and busted FLOSS backdoors everything, so who needs the NSA?

In 2014, Poul-Henning Kamp, a prolific and respected contributor to many core free/open projects gave the closing keynote at the Free and Open Source Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) in Belgium, and he did something incredibly clever: he presented a status report on a fictional NSA project (ORCHESTRA) whose mission was to make it cheaper to spy on the Internet without breaking any laws or getting any warrants. Read the rest

Backslash: a toolkit for protesters facing hyper-militarized, surveillance-heavy police

Backslash -- an "art/design" project from NYU Interactive Technology Program researchers Xuedi Chen and Pedro G. C. Oliveira -- is a set of high-tech tools for protesters facing down a "hyper-militarized," surviellance-heavy state adversary, including a device to help protesters keep clear of police kettles; a jammer to foil Stingray mobile-phone surveillance; a mesh-networking router; a "personal cloud" that tries to mirror photos and videos from a protest to an offsite location; and tools for covertly signalling situational reports to other protesters. Read the rest

Near-future Ikea catalog: the Internet of Things' flat-pack as a service

Julian Bleecker and his Near Future Laboratory have followed up on their amazing Skymall-of-the-future catalog with an imaginary near-future Ikea catalog that jam an insane amount of witty futuristic speculation into elegantly presented, arresting images.

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Walt Disney's plan for the FBI of tomorrow

Michael from Muckrock: "Union-busting Walt Disney became cozy with J. Edgar Hoover, the iconic animator's FBI files show, helping shut down dissident workers while infusing Disney programming with fond portrayals of federal enforcement. Disney even wanted to dedicate a special section of Tomorrowland to highlighting the Bureau of tomorrow -- which ended up being a step too far for America's head investigative agency." Read the rest

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