September 20, 2013
Why Today’s Inventors Need to Read More Science-Fiction

How will police use a gun that immobilizes its target but does not kill? What would people do with a device that could provide them with any mood they desire? What are the consequences of a massive, instant global communications network?
Such questions are relevant to many technologies on the market today, but their first iterations appeared not in lab prototypes but in the pages of science fiction.
This fall, MIT Media Lab researchers Dan Novy and Sophia Brueckner are teaching “Science Fiction to Science Fabrication,” aka “Pulp to Prototype,” a course that mines these “fantastic imaginings of the future” for analysis of our very real present. Over email, I asked Novy and Brueckner about the books they’ll be teaching, the inventions that found their antecedents in those pages, and why Novy and Brueckner believe it is so important for designers working in the very real world to study the imaginary. An edited transcript of our correspondence follows.
Read more. [Image: jonny2love/flickr]

Why Today’s Inventors Need to Read More Science-Fiction

How will police use a gun that immobilizes its target but does not kill? What would people do with a device that could provide them with any mood they desire? What are the consequences of a massive, instant global communications network?

Such questions are relevant to many technologies on the market today, but their first iterations appeared not in lab prototypes but in the pages of science fiction.

This fall, MIT Media Lab researchers Dan Novy and Sophia Brueckner are teaching “Science Fiction to Science Fabrication,” aka “Pulp to Prototype,” a course that mines these “fantastic imaginings of the future” for analysis of our very real present. Over email, I asked Novy and Brueckner about the books they’ll be teaching, the inventions that found their antecedents in those pages, and why Novy and Brueckner believe it is so important for designers working in the very real world to study the imaginary. An edited transcript of our correspondence follows.

Read more. [Image: jonny2love/flickr]

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    Interesting article on science fiction serving as “ethics class for inventors” in science and technology programs.
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    “Science fiction is often derided as too fanciful or not rigorous in thought. There is still a stigma against those who...
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