Science fiction writers attract corporations and governments

Science fiction has always been a fertile ground for anticipating the future, embracing ideas, and exploring the possibilities that arise from what are today mere startups. But we rarely understand that Science fiction writers can be used proactively by companies and governments to highlight their emerging technologies, promote disruptive ideas or chart potential scenarios that advance trends.

This is actually not unusual or recent. Churchill and Stalin consulted HG Wellsand the United States government, the CIA, or the Reagan administration worked with members Sigma group, composed of multidisciplinary authors. Macron’s French government also announced the formation of red teama group of science fiction writers who will work alongside the military to create horizons that lay a roadmap Geopolitics and future Armed conflicts.

“If people don’t see what we’re doing as science fiction, it may not be transformative enough.”

Sergey Brin

Co-founder of Google

Companies like Visa, Coca-Cola, Intel, or Ford, and organizations like NATO They contracted for services SciFutureswhich has a staff of hundreds of writers, to work with technicians to develop the economic, social or environmental perspectives that are intertwined with the development of a new device or concept.

In short, they offer an “out of the box” way of thinking, bolder, which in turn inspires new lines of entrepreneurship. Besides the fact that it’s easier to present cold tech ideas or complex data using the narrative as an allure in order to accommodate the audience. But also for designers to understand the effectiveness of the product or its potential failures.

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Example David Brin, a Caltech graduate scientist and award-winning science fiction writer, author of works such as “The Postman” or “Earth”, has been a consultant to IBM and NASA and a Google spokesperson. The line of thought many tech companies follow is challenge Sergey BrinOne of the founders of Google called it: “If people don’t see what we do as science fiction, it probably won’t be transformative enough,” because only then will they be able to maintain relevance and forge new relationships with the market.

Analyzes of past trends are useful for understanding our future behavior, but they limit perspective. while the book appears Less humble to take risks or move in uncertainty. Thus, the famous consultant PricewaterhouseCooper (PricewaterhouseCoopers) Publish a guide on how science fiction can be used to “explore innovation”. It states that “the use of narrative fiction institutions can initiate conversations for their own innovations. Fantasy worlds allow you to explore new products and uses, without the constraints of money or technological ability hindering creativity.”

The science fiction behind the bias isn’t just spaceships or aliens. Respected writers predicted the future, who William Gibsonwho coined the term Cyberspace In his masterpiece “Neuromancer” from 1984 to Edward Bellamy, who predicted the use of credit cards in 1888 in his novel Looking Back: 1887-2000. passes Ray Bradbury Who imagined earbuds in 1953 with Fahrenheit 451. Aldous Huxleyantidepressants in 1931’s Brave New World Arthur C ClarkeAndtablets with digital newspapers or satellite technology of 2001: A Space Odyssey´, in 1968. Not forgetting HG Wells who conceived the idea of ​​the atomic bomb in ‘The World Freed’, published in 1914. Also Julio Verne He discussed light-propelled spacecraft in his 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, and space agencies are currently working on solar sails and space elevators.

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PricewaterhouseCoopers adds that “these things actually happen in part because inventors and scientists have been inspired by their conceptual appeal. In How it was used in an imagined world in literature, television, or film. And they found a way to transfer at least part of that future into the present. It allows to analyze the value of innovations or not». This explains why fantasy design is used by companies like Microsoft or Apple. Kodak, Motorola, Disney or Tesco have also joined the trend and the MIT Media Lab has spent years promoting reading fiction to researchers and engineers.

The impossible is near

Samuel R Delaney, one of the field’s most multi-award-winning writers, asserts that “The variety of worlds to which science fiction has accustomed us is an exercise in thinking about real, sometimes catastrophic, and often disorienting changes. It helps us avoid feeling too overwhelmed.” designer Tobias Revell Which uses fiction and the future to reflect on current comments that “Most of the science fiction authors we’ve talked about are interested in exploring problems, assumptions, and prejudices in today’s society by comparing them with those in the future to better understand the human condition”.

Florence BarleyThe former Minister of the French Armed Forces, when announcing the first results of the Red Team, stated that “we must dare to believe in the impossible, to imagine the unimaginable, to wonder what yesterday seemed still unchangeable to us.” Not surprisingly, the end of the 9/11 report said, “The most important failure What made the attacks possible? It was fantasy. Unlike Star Wars, we can’t afford a sequel.”

prestigious Harvard Business Review He went on to publish articles such as “Using Fiction to Find Your Strategy” or “Why Business Leaders Need to Read More Fiction.” But it is not a question of guessing the future, but of inventing it, and in this way companies can also test products or stimulate regulatory changes.

A faction of NATO’s Scifutures


CEO and Founder of SciFutures, Ari Popper, shows ABC that companies that require their services gain a competitive advantage, from linear development to exponential development. He notes, “The first function is to help them transform. Science fiction uses the power of storytelling to help suspend disbelief, overcome inertia, and get a deep idea of ​​what is possible.” Science fiction is rarely about the future. It is basically about Present change».

To achieve this, “we conduct a research phase to ensure we understand our clients’ businesses. This data is used to inform our talented science fiction writers.” The strategy phase is the iron fist. Emotional stories are a child’s gauntlet». The result is videos, illustrations, podcasts, virtual reality stories or interactive websites.” While many of SciFutures’ projects with companies are confidential, when they worked with NATO They were given complete freedom to imagine more pessimistic scenarios, resulting in an anthology of comics that were discussed by the entity’s higher-ups.

new equation

Environmental challenges are also an increasingly visible component of imagining the future. For this reason, the international engineering firm Arup has turned to the writer and journalist Tim Maughan, a technologist who has worked in China or the United States, develops four stories that imagine a possible future 30 years from now. In turn, this led to “Infinite Detail: A Novel” about how the characters deal with the ramifications of climate change on a local level.

He told ABC he also worked with Who is the On how to imagine the future of epidemics, with Netflix On the TV show “The Future of …” or with the British charities you imagine Antibiotics tomorrow. He also stresses that it is important to find the right writer, it is not enough to resort to popular names. On more than one occasion, companies have contacted him to fix this kind of mess.

In this panorama, the figure of the conceptual futurist plays an important role. It is the case of the deceased Mister medwhich some call it Velasquez Futuristic Design. Roger Cervik, director of business affairs for Syd Mead Inc, explains to ABC that “Syd co-created “throne”the first feature film to contain more than 30 minutes of computer animation, and was the film’s designer “Blade Runner”. was med “visible” futurist who excelled in creating conceptual art that pushed the boundaries of what was considered possible. He based his solutions on reality, but interpreted them in the visual language of what would happen in the future. He is often quoted as saying, “Science fiction is ahead of schedule.”

In this futuristic reality there are also writers like Neil StephensonConcept creator Metaverse, who in his novel “Snow Crash” described a kind of communal space successor to the Internet and built on virtual reality, where people possess digital avatars. Stevenson. Tired of the miserable future. I am searching a more positive outlookand joined Center for Science and Imagination (CSI) From Arizona State University to create atmosphere, energy or imagination of space exploration. The result is the stories he supports NASA or the World Bank.

One of the scenarios developed by the Center for Science and Imagination


CSI Director, Ed Finntells us that we “invite writers, artists, and other creative professionals to collaborate with scientists, engineers, and other technical experts. Together, they envision technically sound, plausible, and hopeful visions of the near future: a world in which we may want to live, and in which we can contemplate what we want to avoid.”

possible worlds

Specifically, the challenges France You want to avoid what you pay to create red team In 2019. He was the content creator Emmanuel ShivaDirector of the Agency for Defense Innovation (AID). . There is, too blue team Author of soldiers to keep these novels within credibility.In 2016, he accompanied his wife to the science fiction festival Utopiales in Nantes and discovered their possibilities. His screenplays deal with ecosystem wars, “biohackers”, transhumanism, “deepfakes” or knowledge wars. They are obsessed with the idea that what is being proposed will not be science fiction any time soon.

older Sigma groupFounded in 1992 in the USA. its founder Arlan Andrews He explains that “When I worked in the White House Science Office 30 years ago, I envisioned sigma as an apolitical alternative to bureaucratic predictions for people without experience in long-term thinking. In 2008, some of our members predicted that drone swarms would be an important aspect of the war.” Futurism Or that with smartphones, they should expect “revolutions at the speed of text”.

Many believe that the future is a safe laboratory test ideas. And science fiction writers, PWC says, are a good motivator for asking:What is the story of your future? Imagining it would be the first step to making it a reality.”

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