27 May 2008

The First Immortal ~ SF as Speculative Futures

I was chatting with several MIT colleagues from our Campus Sustainability Initiative about the power of storytelling to inspire and help people imagine possible futures. And, of course, the world of science fiction is tremendous especially for spotlighting technological possibilities and helping people imagine societal changes stemming from new discoveries and inventions. Well this got me thinking about my favorite science fiction works including Heinlein's Time Enough For Love, Haldeman's Forever War, Asimov's Foundation Series, Stephenson's Diamond Age, and Halperin's The First Immortal. Since Jim Halperin's been so kind as to place it online for free, I decided to read it again just now. Great stuff! Imagining a nanotech-enabled world where cryonics has worked and cryopreserved humans are revitalized. Highly recommended. I also loved his first novel, The Truth Machine, imagining perfecting lie detection technologies and the consequences for society, an idea which in no small measure influenced me to co-create the MIT Neurotechnology Ventures class.

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