It’s 2014 and we have no flying cars, no Mars colonies, no needle-less injections, and yet plenty of smartphone dating apps. Is our science fiction to blame if we find today’s science and technology less than dazzling?
On Thursday, Oct. 2, Future Tense—a partnership of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State University—and Issues in Science and Technology will host an event to explore a more ambitious narrative about what’s coming. The event is inspired by sci-fi author Neal Stephenson’s 2011 article “Innovation Starvation,” in which he argues that science fiction is failing to supply our scientists and engineers with inspiration, and the new anthology Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, a project of Arizona State’s Center for Science and the Imagination. From the tales we tell about robots and drones, to the narratives on the cutting edge of neuroscience, to society’s view of its most intractable problems, we need to begin telling a new set of stories about ourselves and the future.
The event will be held in Washington, D.C., and breakfast and lunch will be served. If you are unable to join us in person, please tune in to the live webcast. No signup is required to view the streaming video, which will appear on this page. Join the conversation online using #abetterfuture and by following @FutureTenseNow.
For more information and to RSVP, visit the New America website.
9:00 a.m.: Can We Imagine Our Way to a Better Future?
9:15 a.m.: Delivery Drones and Robot Babysitters
Assistant professor of law, University of Washington
Writer and producer, Futurama
Director, Information Innovation Office, DARPA
Editor, Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future
10:00 a.m.: Who and What Will Get to Think in the Future?
Author, Stories of Your Life and Others
Director, Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University
10:20 a.m.: Neuroscience and the Future of Ethics
Author, “Covenant,” Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future
Jonathan D. Moreno
David and Lyn Silfen university professor of ethics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Kathleen Ann Goonan
Author, “Girl in Wave: Wave in Girl,” Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future
Staff writer, Slate
11:05 a.m.: Who Gets to Imagine for the Human Race?
Deputy director for policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Founder, SyFy Channel and Hollywood Media
Senior adviser for program innovation, National Endowment for the Arts
11:50 a.m.: Lost in Space: How Should We Approach Our Final Frontier?
Chief scientist, NASA
Writer and producer, Futurama
12:35 p.m.: Lunch
1:00 p.m.: Reimagining the Future of the Internet, Surveillance, and Privacy
Reporter at the Washington Post covering the Snowden papers
Author, Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency
Author, “By the Time We Get to Arizona,” Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future
Policy director, Open Technology Institute, New America Foundation
Kristal Lauren High
Co-founder and editor in chief, Politic365
1:45 p.m.: Visions of an Alternative Internet
Author, “Johnny Appledrone vs. the FAA,” Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future
2:00 p.m.: Can Stories Solve Wicked Problems that are Bigger than our Imagination?
Author, “Entanglement,” Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future
Director, Science & Technology Innovation Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Author, “Degrees of Freedom,” Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future
Co-Director, Consortium for Science, Policy, & Outcomes
2:45 p.m.: Does Your Government Have an Imagination?
Rep. Zoe Lofgren
House of Representatives, CA-19