May 16, 2016
I'll be speaking May 18, 2016 on "Humans in the digital world"
I'm excited to be traveling to Warsaw, Poland, this week to give a talk at the Sector 3.0 conference. This year's theme is "humantech" and I'll be talking about the potentially transformational impact that blockchain technologies may have on our civilization. Forget self-driving cars, this is where the real action is.
The event is taking place at the stunning Copernicus Center. In the afternoon of the 18th I'll also be speaking on Campus, about a five minute walk from the Center, on the general subject of reinventing democracy using modern technologies and--more importantly--our newly unfolding empirically-based understanding of human nature and cognitive science.
I've always wanted to visit Poland, where my family came from 140 years ago. Ironically, the weather in Warsaw this week is exactly the same as the weather in Toronto--cool, but warm enough to get out and about and enjoy spring in Europe. Which I full intend to do. Thanks to Jean Ekwa and the rest of the organizers of the conference for inviting me. I hope I make it worth their while.
Apr 20, 2016
I'll be there May 18, 2016
Poland has a very dynamic and forward-looking nonprofit sector, and recently the country has been encouraging local libraries at the town and village level to modernize and innovate. It’s part of an effort to empower local people, organizations and small businesses. Since a lot of my recent work is on governance and in particular, local government and autonomy, I’ve been invited to Warsaw to talk about “technologies of trust” at this year’s Sector 3.0 conference. This will be happening on May 18-19, at the stunning Copernicus Science Centre; I’ll be speaking at 10:00 A.M. on the 18th.
I'm really looking forward to this. The European foresight and innovation community is daring and creative, and this event looks like it'll engage all levels of society in just the kind of dialogue and exploration I enjoy!
I'll add more details as I get them, and hope to livetweet as much of the event as I can.
Sep 01, 2015
I'll be talking fiction as futurism
Wednesday, Sept. 30, I'll be speaking at the Foresight & Trends conference in Los Angeles. My topic? The same subject on which I wrote my Master's thesis: the use of fictional narratives in foresight studies. This time, though, I'll be getting recursive by reciting several possible "plotlines" that exemplify different aspects of the method. The full agenda description for my talk is:
Plotlines: Using Stories to Analyze the Future
Acclaimed science fiction writer and futurist Karl Schroeder will describe the plotlines of three possible novels. Each of the stories captures the complex essence of one emerging megatrend. Together, they reduce what might be a long, tedious analysis of demographics and drivers to something vital and easily memorable. The stories are, “Decapitation,” about blockchain technology and how Distributed Autonomous Corporations put a company’s CEO, CFO, and upper management out of work; “The Lady (almost) Vanishes,” about how emerging tech is making it impossible for people to disappear; and in “The Garbage Miners,” how a strike by workers who convert trash into feedstock for 3d printers nearly shuts down the country.
So, the talk serves a double purpose--to describe the technique, and to show it in action. I hope you can be there!
Sep 15, 2012
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.
Jul 15, 2009
I'll be one of a number of pundits punding, uh, I mean talking on Friday, July 24
I've been asked to speak at the O'Reilly Open Source convention happening next week at the San Jose Convention Center. My talk will be at 9:30 A.M. I'll either talk about technology foresight or "rewilding commerce" (riffing off the seminar I hosted at Sci Foo Camp last weekend).
Here's how the O'Reilly conference site describes the event:
"Now more than ever, open source technology is the smart choice for navigating uncertain economic waters. In a competitive business environment, open source gives you the means to drive down costs while increasing system and staff efficiencies. OSCON 2009 is where you'll find the latest information and new ways to connect with the growing community that is open source."