Can We Imagine Our Way to a Better Future?

event | October 02, 2014

  • New America

Can We Imagine Our Way to a Better Future?

Thursday, October 02, 2014

9:00 am – 3:15 pm

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? Inspired by 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, this event will explore a more ambitious narrative about what’s coming. 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.

Join the conversation online using #abetterfuture and by following @FutureTenseNow.

Agenda

9:00 a.m. Can We Imagine Our Way to a Better Future?

Neal Stephenson Author, “Atmosphæra Incognita,” Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future
Author, Snow Crash and The Diamond Age

9:15 a.m. Delivery Drones and Robot Babysitters

Ryan Calo
Assistant Professor of Law, University of Washington

Patric Verrone
Writer and producer, Futurama

Dan Kaufman
Director, Information Innovation Office, DARPA

Moderator:
Kathryn Cramer
Editor, Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future

10:00 a.m. Who and What Will Get to Think the Future?

Ted Chiang
Author, Stories of Your Life and Others

Moderator
Ed Finn
Director, Center for Science and Imagination, Arizona State University

10:20 a.m. Neuroscience and the Future of Ethics

Elizabeth Bear
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

Moderator:
Jamelle Bouie
Staff writer, Slate

11:05 a.m. Who Gets to Imagine for the Human Race?

Tom Kalil
Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Laurie Silvers
Founder, SyFy Channel and Hollywood Media

Moderator:
Bill O’Brien
Senior Adviser for Program Innovation, National Endowment for the Arts

11:50 a.m. Lost in Space: How Should We Approach Our Final Frontier?

Ellen Stofan
Chief Scientist, NASA

Neal Stephenson
Author, “Atmosphæra Incognita,” Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future

Moderator:
Patric Verrone
Writer and producer, Futurama

1:00 p.m. Reimagining the Future of the Internet, Surveillance, and Privacy

Barton Gellman
Reporter at the Washington Post covering the Snowden papers
Author, Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency

Madeline Ashby
Author, “By the Time We Get to Arizona,” Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future

Kevin Bankston
Policy Director, Open Technology Institute, New America Foundation

Moderator:
Kristal Lauren High
Co-founder and Editor in Chief, Politic365

1:45 p.m. Visions of an Alternative Internet

Lee Konstantinou
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?

Vandana Singh
Author, “Entanglement,” Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future

David Rejeski
Director, Science & Technology Innovation Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Karl Schroeder
Author, “Degrees of Freedom,” Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future

Moderator:
Dan Sarewitz
Co-Director, Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes