Masters degree, blogging
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.
Sep 05, 2011
It's my birthday and I ain't writin' no more
Yesterday I finished and submitted my Master's thesis for the Strategic Foresight and Innovation programme at OCAD University. This doesn't mean I've graduated: I have to defend the sucker first. But I'm in training for that now, learning to duck and weave and generally keep ahead of touchy questions, such as "Mr. Schroeder, WTF?"
It was also, coincidentally, my birthday yesterday. I seem to be marking major moments like this lately; three years ago, I had heart surgery a day after my birthday. (Many of you will have noticed that my newest novel, Ashes of Candesce, is not appearing until February, 2012--a couple of years after the last book; blame the surgery. It knocked me back for a good year and totally blew my publishing schedule. With the thesis out of the way and my health excellent again, I should now be able to catch up.)
Anyway, with all that out of the way, I should be able to turn my attention more intensively to writing--and blogging. My recent tenure at Charlie Stross's blog indicated that there's a high level of interest out there for some of my ideas, many of which I was only able to scratch the surface of at Charlie's place. Perhaps now is the time to lay out all my cards.
With that in mind, I've revamped the comments mechanism on this site; anonymous comments are now allowed. It's a bit of a clunky system, since the comment form doesn't have a field for you to enter a name; you'll have to do that in the body of the comment and that's not ideal. It's still better if you register on the site before commenting, but I may make that harder in an attempt to keep the bots at bay.
I'll see how well the anonymous commenting goes; if I get seriously spammed or the trolls start coming out, I will rescind the system without hesitation. But hopefully it'll work and we can have some good discussions!