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I agreed some time ago to give a general science and science fiction talk. The organizer sent me this proposed description for my talk today:
The Future Isn’t What It Used to BeBut that didn’t work for me. I wrote back to say:
What did science fiction writers get right … and wrong … about “the future?”
I’m actually not keen on the topic you’ve suggested. It implies that the job of science fiction is to predict THE future, and it isn’t; the job is to suggest a smorgasbord of possible futures, so that society may choose the one it wants. The scorecard approach — oh, look, science fiction suggested flying cars; aren’t those SF writers so silly! — does a disservice to the genre, and misrepresents its purpose.
Instead, I’d like to propose:
They Synergy Between Science Fiction and Science Fact
Science-fiction writers are able to speculate about future directions for scientific research and explore possible ethical ramifications in ways that working scientists, who are at the mercy of funding bodies, simply can’t: whereas controversy is good for fiction, it’s bad for continuing to get research grants, and yet the public has a right to know where new developments might lead. Join Hugo Award-winning Canadian science-fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer for an exploration of the ways in which science fiction helps set the research agenda for working scientists, and how the genre helps prepare us for the real social impact that scientific breakthroughs will have.