Helping design Intel's future
Last Monday in San Francisco was a blast
Intel's resident futurist, Brian David Johnson, recently commissioned some science fiction stories from myself and others in support of his Tomorrow Project. On Day 0 of the 2012 Intel Developer's Forum, we all sat down for a panel discussion to talk about the new technologies Intel is exploring.
Mark Hachman has a good summary of the day over at ReadWriteWeb. We handed out copies of the books to all 200 or so attending journalists (most of whom had flown in from points around the country and abroad), and did a signing for an enthusiastic crowd afterward. The technologies themselves were being demoed in the room next to our auditorium, and they were spectacular.
My own contribution to this particular anthology was the story "After Science," which brings back my old (circa-year-2000) concept of Thalience, and explores some of the more out-there metaphysical possibilities of current computer science. There was an interesting confluence of ideas in this, since the tech I'd been commissioned to write about just happens to perfectly illustrate some of the key issues being explored by that new stream of philosophy known as Object Oriented Ontology. For instance, in Ian Bogost's new book, Alien Phenomenology: Or, What it's Like to be an Object, he asks the question of whether we can ever know what the 'experiences' of non-human things/beings are. "After Science" suggests some directions to go in experimentally answering that question, by using computing technology to blur the distinctions between subject and object.
Abstruse, maybe, but one of Brian Johnson's points is that within 10 years, we're going to be butting right up against questions like these in our day to day lives... and the people who build the systems that are going to do the, uh, butting, would benefit from knowing ahead of time a little of what they're getting us all into.
The day was an excellent piece of foresight, highlighting both theoretical and experimental approaches to foreseeing/designing the future. The addition of storytelling as an exploratory approach fits both with Johnson's own techniques, and with mine, as my Master's thesis was all about using fiction in foresight.
I hope Intel, and other companies, use this successful Day 0 event as a template for more explorations. We'll all benefit from our industry leaders giving some thought to what world we'll all want to live in, in 10 or 20 years.