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!
Apr 08, 2015
Isabell Spengler, film artist from Germany, and I will be discussing time and perception at Trinity Square Video April 8, 2015. You're welcome to join us
My interests in time and in what is "really real" meet this week in an exhibit and discussion at Trinity Square Video in downtown Toronto. I'll be talking duration and solidity with German filmmaker Isabell Spengler, whose exhibition Two Days at the Falls will be showcased at the galllery. This should be a mind-bending excursion to the edges of what we know, and I'm really looking forward to it--so come join us, April 8 at 6:30 p.m. at 401 Richmond Street West, Suite 376. We're right at Spadina so the easiest access by TTC is the Spadina Streetcar; there are numerous Green-P and Blue-P parking garages in the neighbourhood as well. For more information about the event and the gallery's ambitious science-fiction oriented programme, check out the press release.
Feb 20, 2014
I'll be one of the speakers at the Fields Institute's panel discussion
How does math influence science fiction? In my case, I'm functionally inumerate and yet have created hard-SF universes that others have written scientific papers about. How does that work? This Saturday myself, Suzanne Church and Tony Pi will be talking about the intersection point of math and imagination--and perhaps, about the idea that there's no real difference between the two.
See you there!
Aug 17, 2013
It's a busy one, though I'll only be there for Saturday and Sunday
Keeping in the spirit of dumping all kinds of news at once, here's my schedule for the 2013 World Science Fiction Convention in San Antonio, Texas, which is taking place over the Labour Day weekend. It's a whirlwind visit as I need to get back to Toronto to continue futuring for my new employer, Idea Couture. Luckily, I've got lots going on. If I'm lucky, I'll even get there early enough Friday night to take over the bathtub bar at the Tor party. We'll see. Meanwhile, here's my itinerary:
Reading: Karl Schroeder
Saturday 10:00 - 11:00
Ellen Datlow, Josh Rountree, Karl Schroeder, Lynne M. Thomas
Saturday 12:00 - 13:00
Ellen Datlow , Lynne M. Thomas , Josh Rountree , Karl Schroeder
Reality: Your Relationship to the World
Saturday 15:00 - 16:00
Google Glasses, augmented reality, kinetic gaming, tactile transmission systems. These and other new technologies are on the horizon to transmogrify sense and sensation. Google glasses are the first step to putting an overlay on the reality we see. This opens the door to hiding the ugly and changing what we see. When we do this socially it leads to possible consensual reality as in the works of Vinge, Schroeder and others. What will such capability mean in reality? Has science fiction explored the societal consequences?
Edie Stern (M), Yasser Bahjatt , Walter Jon Williams , Ben Bova , Karl Schroeder
Nancy Kress, Edward M. Lerner, Karl Schroeder
Saturday 17:00 - 18:00
Edward M. Lerner , Nancy Kress , Karl Schroeder
Sunday 10:00 - 13:00
We will do a quick analysis of the future, with the end product being four scenarios that highlight different possibilities. Come take your work to the future!
Have We Lost
Sunday 14:00 - 15:00
Where science fiction once looked to the future as the setting for speculation, nowadays the focus seems to be on alternate pasts, fantasy worlds, or consciously "retro" futures. We're no longer showing the way to what things might be like. We discuss whether this is connected to the general fear of decline and decay in the English-language world -- or has science fiction simply run out of ideas?
Karen Burnham (M), Brenda Cooper , Karl Schroeder , Willie Siros , Derek Kunsken
As You Know,
Sunday 15:00 - 16:00
Exposition is never easy. How can writers communicate the details of a setting, magical system or incredible scientific breakthrough without losing half their audience? What makes a readers eyes glaze over and how do you avoid it?
Michelle Sagara (M) , Tanya Huff , Karl Schroeder , Jack McDevitt , Walter Jon Williams
Without a Universal Translator
Sunday 17:00 - 18:00
How do we establish a common conceptual base to communicate with another species? Sure, we have numbers and the hydrogen atom in common, but how far would that get us in a world of beings who share none of our sensory apparatus?
Lawrence M. Schoen (M) , Paige E. Ewing , Karl Schroeder
By the way, if you want to plan your days, the entire schedule is or will shortly be online at http://www.lonestarcon3.org/guests/appearing.shtml.
That's it. See you all there!
Apr 16, 2013
These will be taking place at Toronto Public Library branches in April; details below
Starting this week I'll be doing several talks and speed-forecasting exercises around the city of Toronto, to help Toronto Public Library celebrate Keep Toronto Reading 2013. Everybody's invited to come out and to participate. These are going to be short, focused sessions--an hour on average--so we won't have time for long debates or in-depth analyses. However, one thing I'll be hoping to do is an exercise I call 'speed forecasting.'
Scenario-based forecasting is a foresight methodology that goes back to the RAND Corporation and Hermann Kahn, the man who inspired the character of Dr. Strangelove. Generally, scenario design is a meticulous process that takes months and involves a research phase, consultations and often several rounds of workshops convened for experts in the field being analyzed.
We're going to do the whole thing in a half an hour.
While we'll be leaving the smoking wreckage of a decades-old methodology in our wake, I guarantee you we'll have fun and it'll be an interesting glimpse into the future. So, come on out on one of the following dates and places, and join in!
April 18, 2013: Spadina Road Branch
When: 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Where: 10 Spadina Road, Toronto
April 22: Pape Branch
When: 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Where: 701 Pape Avenue, Toronto
April 30: St. Lawrence Branch
When: 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Where: 171 Front Street East, Toronto
Feb 02, 2012
I'll be compressing a months-long process into 25 minutes in front of a live audience. Interested? Come on out
On the evening of February 10, 2012, I will be joining Jody Culham and John Godfrey at the Toronto Reference Library, where we'll be doing some cool stuff. As part of the Treehouse Talk series, we'll each present and do a short exercise designed to provoke thought and discussion, starting at 6:30 in the evening and running until 8:15. I'm not sure what Jody's talk will be on, but John's will be on "Is Global Citizenship Possible?"
My talk/exercise will be "Tomorrow's Toronto: A Foresight Exercise on the Future of our City." I'll be using some foresight-oriented brainstorming techniques with the audience to try to derive a set of sketchy but evocative scenarios for Toronto's future. My part of the evening should take about 40 minutes.
Of course, this will only happen if Toronto city employees are not locked out. I'll keep you posted on that one.
The evening went very well, although I did get kinda excited and flip my lapel mic into the audience at one point. I soldiered on with a hand-held unit and finished my presentation with, if I do say so, some aplomb.
Much thanks go to the founders of the Treehouse Talks series and to the Metro Reference Library staff who patiently set up and facilitated for us. It was a great evening!