[Robert J. Sawyer]  Science Fiction Writer
 ROBERT J. SAWYER
 Hugo and Nebula Award Winner

SFWRITER.COM > About Rob > Keynotes

  ROBERT J. SAWYER  
  Keynote Speaker  

Who better to give your organization glimpses of tomorrow than the man who wrote FlashForward, the basis for the ABC TV series about seeing the future?
Introduction | Sample Videos | Clients | Sample Topics | Endorsements | Supporting Materials | Making a Booking | Speaker Profile Brochure (PDF)


[Robert J. Sawyer]

  Introduction  

As both a futurist and a science-fiction writer, Robert J. Sawyer is very much in demand as a speaker.

He's given keynotes and talks all over the world, including at the Library of Congress in Washington, the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, the headquarters of Garanti Bank in Istanbul, the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Cambridge University in England, and the National Library in Singapore.

"Robert J. Sawyer is a dynamic and animated speaker; we were spellbound." 1

"Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I don't have to tell you the talk hit the spot." 2

"Your presentation was very well received — all evaluations ticked excellent or outstanding!" 3

"Robert J. Sawyer is the most engaging speaker we have ever hosted." 4

Rob's specialty is extrapolating today's scientific, medical, and ethical concerns into the near future, and making the radical changes that are forthcoming understandable to any audience.

Called "the dean of Canadian science fiction" by The Ottawa Citizen and a master of "bold scientific extrapolation" by The New York Times, Rob opens up people's minds about cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, stem-cell research, and nanotechnology, exploring the societal impact they are going to have.

"Sawyer's real gift is the ability to find the most compelling and correct metaphor, guiding audiences effortlessly through a landscape they might otherwise find forbidding or inaccessible." —Mark Askwith, Producer, Space: The Imagination Station

His audiences have included not just scientists, doctors, and engineers, but also insurance brokers, school teachers, and public-relations executives.

Rob is a frequent science commentator for Discovery Channel Canada, CBC Newsworld, the BBC, and TVOntario. He has over 600 radio and TV appearances to his credit, including Rivera Live with Geraldo Rivera, CTV's Canada A.M. and W-Five, the CBC's Quirks & Quarks, and NPR's Science Friday. He has been quoted in page-one stories in both USA Today and The Ottawa Citizen. His talks and lectures have been broadcast on CBC Radio's Ideas, TVOntario's Big Ideas, and Bravo's The Writing Life; he's spoken at IdeaCity and TEDxManitoba; and he hosted the 27-part documentary TV series Supernatural Investigator.

"Robert J. Sawyer has mastered the skill of turning his powerful visions of the future into relevant and thought-provoking commentary on the major issues facing us today." —Paul Lewis, President, Discovery Channel Canada

[RJS at Google] New Scientist calls Rob's work "scientifically plausible and ethically important." His commissioned nonfiction has appeared on major websites including Slate and the BBC; in such major magazines as Canadian Business, Maclean's, and Report on Business Magazine; in newspapers including The Financial Post, The Financial Times of Canada, The Globe and Mail, The Ottawa Citizen, and The Toronto Star; and in popular science publications including Archaeology and Sky & Telescope. In addition, he's published in both of the world's leading scientific journals, Science and Nature.

He has done consulting for Google, Kodak, Motorola, DARPA, and NASA, and he was the only author invited by Canada's Federal Department of Justice to contribute to its think-tank on Canadian genetic laws.

"What sets Sawyer apart is the rigor of his research, the shapeliness of his arguments, and the plausibility of his predictions and extrapolations." The Globe and Mail

In addition to talks for numerous businesses and associations, Rob has been selected to give prestigious annual keynotes, including the Federation of State Medical Board's Bryant Galusha Lecture, the Saskatchewan Library Association's Mary Donaldson Memorial Lecture, and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada's Peter Sim Memorial Lecture.

Rob is one of only eight writers in history to win the science-fiction field's three top awards for Best Novel of the Year: the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

His books are top-ten mainstream bestsellers in Canada, appearing on the Globe and Mail and Maclean's bestsellers' lists, and they've hit number one on the bestsellers' list published by Locus, the U.S. trade journal of the science-fiction field.

Let him share his compelling insights with your group: e-mail Rob at sawyer@sfwriter.com to arrange a booking.


  Sample Videos  

Video: Rober J. Sawyer at TEDxManitoba: "Live Forever or Die Trying" (15 minutes)

 

Video: Rober J. Sawyer on TVOntario's "Big Ideas" lecture series talking about "Humanity 2.0" (57 minutes)

 

Video: Robert J. Sawyer at IdeaCity talking about
"Human Life Extension" (19 minutes)

 

Video: Robert J. Sawyer's Authors at Google talk (72 minutes)

 

Video: Robert J. Sawyer speaking in Istanbul, Turkey (highlights)


  Clients  

Robert J. Sawyer has given futurism keynote addresses and talks on cutting-edge business opportunities to dozens of organizations, including: [Robert J. Sawyer]
  • Alberta Ministry of Health and Wellness
  • Alberta Land Surveyors Association
  • American Association of Managing General Agents

  • Association of Biomedical Communications Directors
  • Association of Professional Engineers & Geoscientists of Saskatchewan
  • CA Technologies (Computer Associates)

  • Canadian Home Care Association
  • Canadian Public Relations Society
  • Canadian Space Agency

  • Cancer Patient Education Network
  • Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology
  • Darwin College, Cambridge

  • Ceridian
  • Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation
  • Federation of State Medical Boards

  • Garanti Bank, Istanbul
  • Gartner
  • Google

  • Hansard Association of Canada
  • Health Canada
  • Institute for Quantum Computing

  • Library of Congress
  • Life Communicators Association
  • Lockheed Martin

  • Manitoba Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology
  • Meeting Professionals International
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

  • Mensa
  • National Research Council of Canada
  • New America Foundation

  • New York Library Association
  • Ontario Human Rights Commission
  • Ontario Mutual Insurance Association

  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment
  • Professional Engineers Ontario
  • Sanofi-Aventis

  • Saskatchewan Registered Nurses' Association
  • Science Media Centre of Canada
  • Surrey International Writers' Conference
Complete list of keynote addresses


[Robert J. Sawyer]

  Sample Topics  

Rob will happily tailor a talk specifically for your organization. To get you thinking, here are some sample topics he's spoken about before:

Facing the Future
Many industries still haven't embraced 20th-century technology, and we're now well into the 21st! Cutting-edge technologies, such as nanotechnology and inexpensive smart computers, will change everything in the next few years, as will the Semantic Web — the second-generation of the World Wide Web. The coming revolution has been dubbed the Singularity, and it will transform how we learn, how we do business, and even the very definition of what it means to be human.

The Future of Business
The World Wide Web has already changed how we do business, and Web 2.0 is going to have an even bigger impact. Interactive computing and user-generated content, including blogs, wikis, and social networking, are changing the world, and ubiquitous computing will make the Web even more central to people's lives — and more crucial to your business's bottom line.

Genetics and Ethics
How the fallout from the Human Genome Project will affect civil rights, privacy, employment, and access to services in the 21st century; the truth about cloning, designer babies, personalized pharmaceuticals, and life prolongation.

The Science Fiction Mindset in Business
It's been said that anyone could have predicted the automobile — but only a science-fiction writer could have predicted the traffic jam. Although first-order effects of a new invention are obvious (Tim Berners-Lee foresaw the way his World Wide Web would improve academic research), it's only by developing a science-fiction writer's speculative knack that you can see the second- and third-order effects (it was SF writers who predicted Second Life, social networking, and cybercrime). Learn from a bestselling science-fiction novelist how to use extrapolative rigor to foretell — and prepare for — likely futures.

The High Cost of Privacy
Given that ubiquitous monitoring and tracking of all our activities will be possible in the next few years, how do we safeguard privacy in the 21st century — and do we even need it? How to avoid the creation of Big Brother, and make sure that we — the public — can effectively watch the watchers.

[Sawyer in dragon shirt] The Three-Day Workweek
The cubicle's days are numbered: as more bandwidth goes into homes, telecommuting with fully immersive virtual reality will become possible, and societal and environmental pressures will make it common. Distinguishing between home and work life will be a struggle, and employers will have to balance workers' rights to privacy against the need to ensure the quantity and quality of work being done. Will we still have maternity and paternity leave when workers already spend much of their time at home? In the era of multitasking, to whom do you assign billable hours? What will tomorrow's meetings be like? A cutting-edge exploration of the future of work and the workplace with Robert J. Sawyer, who is quoted in the mega-bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek.

Machines that Think
From the author of the acclaimed WWW trilogy, a look at the state-of-the-art in artificial intelligence and the rise of thinking machines, including the barriers to creating consciousness in computers and the societal impact if it ever does happen, and a discussion of the prehistoric origins of human consciousness as a model for the spontaneous emergence of self-awareness in complex systems, such as the World Wide Web.

The Future of Professional Certification
Rob has spoken to both the Federation of State Medical Boards (meeting in Boston) and the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (in Phoenix) about the future of professional certification in a world in which things change overnight. Is an engineer licensed in 1980 competent in a world of carbon nanotubes and nanotechnology? How will we handle testing and upgrading in the age of annual paradigm shifts?

Global Warming and Canada's Future
What we can do to combat global warming, why Canada is a key player in environmental efforts even if we only produce 2% of the world's carbon emissions, and what Canada might be like in a warmer future, when a Northwest Passage opens up thanks to polar-ice melting, and the American south is devastated by droughts.

E-Commerce
An introduction to online retailing and electronic commerce: the promise, the pitfalls, how to succeed — and what to avoid.

E-Books, E-Publishing, and the Death of Traditional Media
An introduction to electronic books and electronic publishing, and the impacts they are going to have on the way we read, and the way we think about reading.

The Science Fiction Vision
Robert J. Sawyer — "just about the best science-fiction writer out there," according to the Denver Rocky Mountain News — sets the stage for thinking about the rapid pace of change that's coming down the pike by showing how science fiction visions are increasingly becoming real. Captain Kirk's communicator and tricorder are now embodied in our iPhones and BlackBerrys; robots have walked off the pages of science fiction into our living rooms; and the Jetsons' hyperconnected lifestyle has become our daily reality. Rob shows why science fiction has been called "the only preventive medicine for Future Shock," and explains how extrapolative science-fiction thinking and rapid adoption of cutting-edge technologies can aid businesses as they rush to meet the future.


[Robert J. Sawyer]

  Endorsements  

Quotes from conference organizers who have used Rob in the past:

"Engaging, intelligent, entertaining, stimulating. Although these are powerful adjectives that I don't use lightly, they still fall short of conveying the audience response to Rob's keynote address at our conference. We were absolutely delighted!" —Documentation & Training (at the Boston University Corporate Education Center)

"Just a short note to express my thanks to you for your superb presentation at Hockley Valley. You focused precisely on those areas that were of most interest to the audience. Your delivery was exciting and challenging. A number of our insurance-broker guests spoke to me later about your presentation and there were several discussions later at dinner and the next day." —National Life

"Your keynote address was the perfect kickoff for our conference 'Facing Technology Together.' You obviously did your research on us, and the message hit the nail on the head. I was very impressed with how you even worked in the breakfast-table conversation about our promotion of 4-H. Fantastic job!" —Ontario Mutual Insurance Association

"Your well-researched speech was perfect for the occasion. It was informative, entertaining, uplifting and thoroughly enjoyed by all. You made us all proud to be engineers, and to be Canadians." —Ontario Professional Engineers Awards

"Thanks again for coming to our meeting. I don't have to tell you the talk hit the spot, as you personally saw how the audience engaged in a lively Q&A at the end of your presentation. This continued into the coffee break, which really shows how much your words provoked the reaction I was hoping for, namely a thought-provoking break from our organizational/technical discussions. Feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive. I am glad you could come on short notice. Your participation certainly contributed to the success of our event." —CA (Computer Associates)

"What a fantastic job! You are a captivating, stimulating provocateur who got us outside our comfort zone and challenged us to contemplate the exciting and scary forces of change as we work to prepare our profession for an exciting and challenging future." —Saskatchewan Registered Nurses' Association

"Robert delivered a provocative and dynamic address. Our goal was to choose a keynote who spoke outside the box, and Robert delivered. He went out of his way to weave our conference theme and industry into his remarks which only added to his impact on the audience. It's often difficult to inspire an audience who has been to many conferences and sat through many keynote sessions. Robert, however, did just that. I definitely recommend him." —The MEARIE Group

"Thank you for your witty, insightful, thought-provoking look at the future. Your talk was perfectly focused for our organization, and was, according to the glowing feedback we received from attendees, a highlight of our conference." —48th International Conference on Health & Science Communication

"At the Toward a Science of Consciousness conference in Tucson, Robert J. Sawyer gave the most inspiring, informative and enlightening talk on science and sci-fi that I've ever heard." —Star Trek: Deep Space 9's Chase Masterson

"Thank you for your witty, insightful, thought-provoking look at the future. Your talk was perfectly focused for our organization, and was, according to the glowing feedback we received from attendees, a highlight of our conference." —48th International Conference on Health & Science Communication

"To me falls the very great privilege to convey to you our expressions of sincerest gratitude for your generous participation in our annual conference. Your early acceptance permitted us to circulate publicity with your prominent name right from the start. Your excellent, right-on keynote address set the upbeat tone for the whole conference. Thank you very, very much." —Canadian Authors Association

"Your presentation was the highlight of our event. You presented compelling scenarios regarding what we could expect to see for healthcare in the future with an engaging and humourous style. It was a fascinating topic, well researched and presented by a gifted speaker, and it captivated the audience throughout." —Grey-Bruce Health Network

"Robert J. Sawyer moderated the panel with the highest degrees of professionalism, along with considerable wit, humor and clarity. I have no doubt about Robert's ability to hold an audience's attention, and recommend him for suitable corporate or other events." —Gartner Inc.

More tributes from event organizers

  Supporting Materials  


  Making a Booking  

E-mail Rob at sawyer@sfwriter.com to discuss making a booking to meet your specific needs.


[Forbes logo] [ROB Magazine logo]
Featured Futurist at Forbes.com and in Report on Business Magazine

Quotations From:

1. Victoria Times Colonist
2. CA (Computer Associates)
3. Ontario Library Association
4. Kansas State University

Back to Top
More quotes from clients


  More Good Reading  

Speaker Profile Brochure (PDF)
Complete list of keynote addresses

Robert J. Sawyer featured at Forbes.com
A longer version of the Forbes.com interview

Interview about Rob's speech for the Canadian Public Relations Society

Quotes about Rob from event organizers
Quotes about Rob from libraries and schools
Quotes about Rob from writing conference and workshop organizers
Quotes about Rob from writing students
Quotes about Rob from SF convention attendees

Laurentian University convocation address

Library of Congress address

Rob's press kit
The Top Ten Things to know about Robert J. Sawyer
Rob's stints as Guest of Honor at SF conventions


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