Back to: The future of web publishing, part seventeen million and six. | Forward to: What I did this weekend

I am not a futurist.

Being a science fiction writer means fielding a lot of questions about what the future is going to be like. It also means disappointing a lot of people when I tell them, "I don't know."

Not only do I not know, I don't even pretend to know. I mean, I can extrapolate from trends; I can guesstimate, I can figure out what cool toys I might love and give them to my made-up friends. I can research and see what the current state of technology is, and what's on the design board--but honestly, I'm not even slightly trying to predict the future.

(See? You're disappointed in me already. I can tell from here. But I am just trying to be honest.)

When I write, though, I'm not writing to an audience thirty years from now, or six hundred. I'm writing to an audience of today, with today's concerns and today's zeitgeist and today's worries in their heads.

Ahh, yes, today's worries. But many of those worries are universal--one might even say, human. And that stories that deal with those universal worries will remain fresh, or at least stand a better chance of it.

So I can't tell you what we'll be using for power technology in fifty years. I can't tell you if the Singularity will or will not happen, though I have my opinions (and I have opinions, too, about what the turn-of-the-millennium fascination with the idea reveals about our society, because projections tell you more about a person or a culture than just about anything else they do). I can't tell you whether we'll manage a credible approximation of A-life in my... er... lifetime.

But I can tell you how a human being reacts to change, and where we keep our ghosts, and how much work it is making ethical choices in an imperfect world. Because there are futurists and there are fictioneers, and we excel at different things.

53 Comments

1:

I think this is an incredibly clear and succinct way to state this. If I was doing an interview I would ask you, "Why do so many SF authors present themselves as futurists?"

2:

(and I have opinions, too, about what the turn-of-the-millennium fascination with the idea reveals about our society, because projections tell you more about a person or a culture than just about anything else they do)

Do feel free to expand on this.

3:

and I have opinions, too, about what the turn-of-the-millennium fascination with the idea reveals about our society, because projections tell you more about a person or a culture than just about anything else they do.

I agree with Max; I'd like to hear more on this point.

4:

I don't think that (most) futurists can do those things either. Real psychics (if such a thing were to exist), maybe, but not futurists.

I know it's contraversial, but I'd argue that the roles of SF author and futurist are relatively fluid, and the only real difference is the choice of medium - novel/novella/short story vs. scenario matrix/lecture/interview/article.

5:

For me, it's weird, I read SF for entertainment, but I often end up feeling like I've gotten predictions. One could hardly blame the author for this, and I'm at least happy that predictions introduce me to ideas I hadn't heard of before. I only heard of the idea of singularity from Accelerando.
You might not be a futurist Charlie, but you at least disseminate futurists ideas more broadly.
Perhaps a purveyor of futurism, instead of a futurist.

6:

hah, also, I forgot who was writing this week, silly me.
The thought about spreading ideas while simultaniously entertaining still remains.

7:

Suspense of the reader's disbelief, as critical as it is for good science fiction, is attained most easily by blurring the line between creative speculation and a futuristic reality in the work. It's a dirty way to go about it, but effective!

8:

"Art is not a copy of the real world. One of the damn things is enough." Virginia Woolf (possibly)

"Do not get glum when you are no longer understood, little book. ... Rejoice, Little book! For on that day, we will be free." Joanna Russ

Why should SF be an attempt at realistic fiction about the future?

Why should the alternative be thought to be engagement with universal human concerns?

There are other things one might attempt, and they are not all lesser things.

9:

Funny, it's usually the futurists who don't want to be mistaken for science fiction authors :)

10:

Unless it's alternate history sci-fi or near-future sci-fi, I don't think that it should necessarily have highly familiar or recognizable human drives. However I feel like I am a rare case of a reader who doesn't necessarily want to empathize with characters.

Certainly humans have loved and fought and wanted for some time now, but the priorities and reasons for these things are changing at a faster and faster pace. It is too simple to simply label actions as being driven by some base human desires. Certainly we have our evolutionary urges, but our response to those urges changes drastically from culture to culture and time period.

Is there anyone else who finds it more interesting when a character who is human (perhaps post-human) seems truly alien to us? For some reason many people can't stand this, and thus most sci-fi movies and books simply have stories and characters which feel like they could be placed anywhere and just given different costumes and toys.

I much prefer characters who are products of their strange sci-fi environment, not my regular early 21st century human environment.

11:

Well since no one can honestly and accurately predict the future (see Taleb's Black Swan), I guess the futurists are out in the cold, hunh? Or they disguise their science fiction world-building and sell it in the non-fiction side of the store.

And there are people who do both. Perhaps we should add another category: futurist SF?

This is not a criticism of Elizabeth's work. Most SF authors right now see use science fiction as the props for an essentially modern story.

A few (such as Charlie's Accelerando) take on how technology changes human relationships and society. This is futurist SF. This is a different beast, and oddly, it seems to be one of the minor genres of SF. HOwever, it goes back to Jules Verne, and the pieces tend to be remembered as much for what they get right, as what they get wrong. They also tend to get reprinted a lot.

I'd also point out that there are two huge problems for Elizabeth and others who insist that science fiction is about the present.

The first problem is that everyone is tempted to hammer all stories into present-day concerns. Here's an example: I'm an ecologist and wannabe writer. I know from my day job that our society is non-sustainable in a wide variety of ways. One thing I'm trying to put in my writing is what sustainable societies look like from the POV of one of their inhabitants. If by some miracle I get something published, I'm sure some english major is going to arrogantly shoehorn my work into contemporary anxieties about climate change, and miss the point. It's a simulation, a thought experiment. It's about how the future changes people.

A second problem is that science fiction provides tropes for our society. How many of us have owned cell phones that look like Star Trek communicators? How many people are disillusioned by futurist SF because we're not sending ships to explore Jupiter, as we were supposed to by 2001? Cheap questions, but SF provides advertisements of a future that might happen.

Right now, what have we got for our future? Singularitarian thinking/the Terminator franchise, where mere humans become obsolete, or The Road, where we check out in a dramatically tragic fashion.

That's another reason why I'm interested in the thought experiment called a sustainable society. I, for one, hope that we'll survive, and I'd rather write about a sustainable world, and encourage people to head that way.

Such a world isn't perfect: there will be plenty of conflict to write stories around. But why abandon the future? Does hope not sell anymore?

12:

OK, I'll try putting it another way. Isn't one major joy of SF that it is (can be?) non-realist fiction? If the modality of one's work is "this might happen", isn't that to give up on the non-realism & the fiction? By all means, write about the future, but why ours?

If one writes about what has not happened, is not happening, and will not happen, one is liberated from the prison of mimesis. One can still comment on the real world, if one wants to, but that needn't be done by copying it. Or so it seems to me. Perhaps I've a loose screw.

To make that concrete: suppose one thinks that women have always had the shitty end of the stick, that they do now, and that they always will; is that any reason not to write a feminist utopia? If one does, need its value lie in its plausibility?

13:

Nearly everyone who's tried to predict the future through SF - or to be fair, who's been read as trying to predict the future - has failed, miserably and risibly. So yes, it's good to see a modality of - hm, possibly we should call it never-mind - in place of probably-will or might.

This relates, I think, to something that occurred to me about steampunk - it very deliberately uses a modality of can-never-be. Well, to an extent all SF does, since by the time it's read the putative branching point is already past, but steampunk does so very explicitly.

"Where we keep our ghosts" is a wonderful phrase.

14:

I've always liked sci-fi, not for it's ability, or even passing attempt, to predict the future but because it explores the relationships we have with our technology, how society is shaped by technology and technology by society. Those 'ghosts' you mention are absolutely the enthralling part, and give some scifi a depth that is rarely appreciated by mainstream literature critics or readers. Human beings are addicted to soothsayers, so a futurist is the modern interpretation of that ancient niche, imho.

15:

Face it Charles. You are a futurist. Weather you want to admit it or not, your imagination is a gift. What lies in our heads is seeds from which the future is grown. Every technological innovation stemmed from and idea. Most of the modern world owes it's technological and sociological progression to people like you.

16:

Charlie's off this week, Mark. Say hello to Elizabeth.

17:

Plans to set up Iceland as an offshore haven for journalists and leakers - without libel laws. Wikileaks Sans Frontieres:

http://www.niemanlab.org/2010/02/iceland-aims-to-become-an-offshore-haven-for-journalists-and-leakers/

18:

My worry about steampunk: for some baffling reason, people find the 19th century a cozy "place", and I fear that the genre is a deliberate attempt to avoid Verfremdungseffekt.

19:

I am greatly ignorant. I had to look up Verfremdungseffekt, and I still don't understand how steampunk is a deliberate attempt to avoid it.

You might want to expand on that comment, Matthew.

To me, steampunk is just another sort of urban fantasy, but I've always been a bit of a barbarian about such things. It's about giving the knights guns, instead of pretending that gunpowder doesn't exist.


20:

That's an interesting point - what I see is the use of the aggressively ahistorical setting as a deliberate invocation of the V-effekt. And, well, there's steampunk and steampunk, and some is a lot more punky than others - there are certainly potboilers aimed at people who find it a nice cosy subgenre, or who want the uncomplicated enjoyment of human endeavour ("What if the sheer coolth of Victorian engineering had been EVEN COOLER?"), but I think the Gothic-esque stories which bring industrialized nightmares into a comprehensible human scale are more common. (If only my brain were working, I'd be able to give actual examples...)

21:

I was selling Futurism (i.e. cover articles for Omni magazine at $2,000 or about $1/word for print in 1979 and 1980) before I was an active SFWA member. But you're right -- Science Fiction and Futurism are VERY different. They happen to have an overlap, especially in certain countries, and especially because of publicity by certain Future-boosterist SF editors such as the highly non-literary Hugo Gernsback.

American Exceptionalism oddly agrees with old Historical Inevitability of the USSR, except that the Russians never really believed it, and understood that SF was a great venue for political satire that didn't get you sent to the Gulag. In a sense, The First Circle (В круге первом, V kruge pervom), the novel by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn released in 1968, is Science Fiction, or at least political fiction about scientist/engineers. As wikipedia begins: "The novel depicts the lives of the occupants of a sharashka (a R&D bureau made of gulag inmates) located in the Moscow suburbs. This novel is highly autobiographical. Many of the prisoners (zeks) are technicians or academics who have been arrested under Article 58 of the RSFSR Penal Code in Stalin's purges following the Second World War. Unlike inhabitants of other gulag labor camps, the sharashka zeks were adequately fed and enjoy good working conditions."

UK and French Science Fiction have a Dystopian and satirical cast compared to rose-colored space-helmet American Science Fiction. China has a Historical Inevitability argument as a didactic thread, but a very different flavor. Japan is Futurist-addicted, but doesn't draw borders between SF, pr0n, and comic books the way the rest of the world does. Korea classifies all SF as children's literature.

I'm still a futurist, still a scientist, and still a Science Fiction author. But hese careers use 3 different hemispheres of my brain.

22:

My fear is that it is an attempt to make the unfamiliar comfortable and to dull one's critical/analytical faculties.

Result? One is sucked in to an "exotic" adventure, rather than left out in the cold scratching one's head.

Just an opinion, and, stickwise, I may be doing some wrong-end holding. ;)

23:

"... industrialized nightmares into a comprehensible human scale ..."

The Iron Dragon's Daughter, maybe?

Possibly not a paradigm of steampunk.

(I'm certainly no expert, and I was expressing a fear, rather than attempting to command agreement. ;) )

24:

As for reasons why the 19th Century on steroids might be less "alienating" than other stfnal visions, here are some guesses (or perhaps, parts of a single guess):

[a] steam engines and difference engines present higher-friction surfaces to our minds than all that tricky non-Euclidean shit the C20th threw at us;

[b] we re-assured when we can see the "moving parts": thermionic valves are more pipe-and-slippers than transistors, for example;

[c] we (could have) conquered the universe with gaseous H2O and gear wheels -- without having to fanny around with fission, fusion, quantum indeterminacy and all that other frightening stuff;

[d] bigotries we've tried (and maybe failed) to shrug off can be resurrected--and even given to our protagonists--, and we can pretend that this is done with a clean conscience ("people were like that back then" Pah!);

[e] a steampunk world can easily be a world with no Freud, no holocaust, and no WW1.

I haven't jammed a huge number of ideas into the above, and I'm sure you can all spin out more of the same.

Better, you might be able to think of some genuinely different reasons why steampunk provides a great platform for faux-innocent Boys' Own adventures.

(I'm not trying to single out steampunk as uniquely reactionary. Let's give all punk works a kicking, from Neuromancer to Never Mind The Bollocks. ;) )

25:

The mad old man has returned from his constitutional, and he is warming to his theme.

Orthodox Brechtians may crucify me for the following (doubtless unintentional) example of V-effekt, but here goes ...

About five years before the golden age (notoriously, 7+5=12), I was reading a fat, book club edition of the Foundation Trilogy: a female character has a typewriter which produces a flowing feminine hand--probably in some "girly" colour. Till then I may have been making a mental note to check the seals on my vacuum suit, but BANG! I was back in the room, coolly looking at the world with a new bafflement: why would anyone produce a machine like that, and specifically for the use of women?

Now run this again in a steampunk context: suppose some C19th poppet-cum-bluestocking is bashing away on a fancy piece of Babbagetech to produce the same flowing hand. My guess is that we'd none of us turn a hair--we'd not notice, or, worse, we'd think it think it pretty neat.

Of course, what slaps me in the chops may differently affect others: Star Trek's miniskirts in space were a real what-the-fuck for me, but they were clearly meant to keep the ostrich's head in the sand, and I'm guessing they worked--for the intended audience, at least.

26:

I was kind of with Sam on this one. I agree with most of your points (actually, I was going to make them, and erased them in the interest of just asking the question). Still, to me, steampunk is another variation on the "suspension of disbelief, get me out of here so I can feel better about my current boring life" supergenre to which most literature belongs.

I mean, back in the steam era, life was simpler, white men were busily (and cluelessly) conquering the world (at least in their own minds), and the world happened to be this deterministic thingie that was readily understandable...what could be better?

Similarly, there was harsh sexual, racial, and class discrimination, all sorts of problems that we think we've outgrown, and so on, so if you're one of those hip punk types who is into social critique and writing fiction, what could be better?

And sword and sorcery fantasy is, so, like, 1970s anyway.

To be fair, the steampunks are having so much fun writing, why spoil the party? They deserve to make a living.

Ah well. I'm not a big fan of steampunk, but it beats the eyeteeth out of vampires. Oh dear, I greatly fear that I have given someone ideas, I have. (Allan Quartermain and the Vampires of Mars, anyone?)

27:

"When I write, though, I'm not writing to an audience thirty years from now, or six hundred. I'm writing to an audience of today, with today's concerns and today's zeitgeist and today's worries in their heads."

Ahh. that about sums it up about what I like so much in your writing. And it seems as true in the Singularity stuff as in the family trade series. It's also what I lve in Philip Dick's short stories.

Being a "futurist" per se is over-rated. Using the everyday challenges of confronting technological change is--for the present and the future--very human.

28:

Steve - wrong author, again! You're talking to the this author, not the usual one.

Though... "the everyday challenges of confronting technological change" works for this one too, in a way. The Promethean Age books I've read (Blood & Iron, Whiskey & Water - as always, finances...) can be thought of as sort of like Stephenson's Baroque Cycle inverted, mirrored in some quiet forest pool on a starlit night, and dragged through a hedge backwards.

29:

Note for the peanut gallery: when I get home I'm going to look into a CSS fix to make the author name for blog entries a bit more prominent.

30:

...vampires? Oh, dear. Could be worse, I suppose... could be werewolves. There's very little I dislike more than werewolves.

I think we're all three in agreement here - steampunk is a nice crunchy complex subgenre, still frothing away merrily while the different strands flow into one another, burbling with the musical cries of "ur doin it rong" that always accompany this sort of thing.

There's definitely a lot of *punks who gleefully problematize the whole popular "society entirely consisting of straight white cis patriarchs[1]" image we have of the source material, but there are also a lot who do think of it as a safe space for reenactment. Which might well be fine, but it does lead to a lot of drawing with cheese and eating chalk, to quote Zadie Smith.

I wonder how our decades will get punked up?

[1] And gamine street urchins. Got to have those. Sadly, they rarely break into song in the middle of Covent Garden.

31:

How will our decades get punk'd? Aren't they, already?

The Onion had a title years ago about how, once the 80s had been mined for retro content, we wouldn't have anything left.

Still, we could go all alternate history. How about the Alt '80's, when we went back to the moon, and Xerox labs actually commercialized all their inventions, leading to the web coming two decades early, and leading to a Soviet-US cyberwar.

Oh dear, another idea. Well, it beats the stuffing out of were-gerbils.

32:

Karl Schroeder is a science fiction author who also happens to be a futurist.

33:

Trying to stare at the shore of the future is pointless, the crest of the present is always where the best ideas take root.

Thats not to say that dreaming of a possible future is not an important activity, its a form of cultural determinism. If there is one thing in the human experience that approaches the (queerness) of quantum mechanics, its the human imagination.

If we can imagine a quantum paradox and experiment proves its existence. :)

Damian

34:

"Sadly, they rarely break into song in the middle of Covent Garden."

So steampunk didn't have a Umbrellas-of-Cherbourg moment. Shame!

Who could've pulled that off in print? Mike Ford, maybe?

35:

"...so if you're one of those hip punk types who is into social critique and writing fiction, what could be better?"

Just in case you weren't being sarcastic (though I think you were):

The danger as an author is that you end up writing a critique of the C19th.

The comfort as a reader is that you think you're reading a critique of the C19th.

(Another danger is a false universalism: the thought that for all possible times and places (in contrast with the mainstream 'for all actual times and places'), the problems are the same--i.e. they're inevitable, so don't worry about them. Not a uniquely steam or punk problem; sp is just one way of succumbing.)

For someone who couldn't even finish The Difference Engine, I've wittered on far too much already.

Have fun, boys & girls. ;)

36:

There is that danger, admittedly-but it often seems as if we are reliving the nineteenth century-or in some ways, never entirely left it.

Rather than just repeat myself, here's the link to what I had to say about the issue last summer at IROSF (which has just published its last issue):

http://irosf.com/q/zine/article/10562

37:

Thanks for the link, Nader. That's a fascinating article with many good points. I'd like to take issue with one of them.

One thing I find fascinating as an ecologist is the following section:

"-- The absence of paradigm-shattering developments in the sciences in recent decades. (Journalist John Horgan famously argued that we may be looking at "The End of Science.")
-- A slowdown in the development and proliferation of significant new technologies.
-- A slowdown in economic growth which, along with ecological and other concerns, is contributing to the sense of pessimism about the future."

There's been massive changes in the life sciences, comparable to the publication of Darwin's Origin (for evolution and ecology) or even greater (genetics, genomics, metagenomics, proteomics, etc). As one minuscule example, the cost of getting an individual human genome sequenced is ~$1,000, compared to ~$3 billion a decade ago.

This is not a specific criticism of you, Nader. Rather, it's a broader problem in the SFF community: there's this embedded prejudice that life sciences aren't real science, because, well, they have that "science" or "-ology" ending. The Real Sciences (physics, chemistry, engineering) don't have those endings, because they don't need to tell people what they are (and yes, I'm perfectly well aware that engineering isn't science). I've run into far too many people who have that prejudice to believe arguments that it doesn't exist in our current enlightened age.

I'd suggest that part of the appeal of science isn't just that steampunk science is understandable, it plays to people's prejudices about the proper order of sciences, with physics as the king, chemistry as the queen, and biology as a subject that was safe for women to study.

As an aside, I'd suggest nother reason that there's a bigger readership for steampunk these days is because so many of us played Call of Cthulhu as kids. Perhaps there's a certain sentimental attachment to old time science fiction that doesn't just come from reading our parents' books?

38:

@ 37
Paradigm-shattering?

Well, how about it if they DON'T find the "Higgs Boson" - as is entirely possible, since there are already fairly certain set constraints upon its' putative rest mass/Mev value at both the top and bottom ends/limits???

Come to that there is STILL the mis-fit (to put it politely) between General Relativity and QM - well- known, BOTH theories work extremely well, but are incompatible - um, err .....

39:

Off, or on-topic?
Past futures referring to "Jennifer Morgue"....
HERE
Interesting?

40:

@38: Yes, Greg, I agree about the Higgs, and about that little problem with the descriptions of time and gravity. Nothing like saying "The End of Science" to get people remembering Lord Kelvin's snafu last time those words were uttered.

But the other point is that physics is a science that does breakthroughs, while ecology is a problem. That particular characterization might annoy both the very good atmospheric physicists and chemists who are working on global warming and similar issues, and the ecologists who have been stuck with the thankless job of speaking truth to power and ignorance on a multitude of other issues.

@39: Thanks for the news article as well. The Wikipedia article on Azorian is informative as well.


41:

One of the CIA's worst kept secrets? Arthur Clarke mentions 'Operation Jennifer' in his 1990 novel "The Ghost of the Grand Banks". Though Clarke knew some of the people involved.

Also the story was on PBS's Nova a few years back.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/subsecrets/

Unfortunately no videoÖ¼, just the transcript.

42:

Charlie, I can't imagine that will work. You already know that lots of the commenters don't read your post or other earlier comments before they comment.

43:

JamesPadraigR: Charlie here. You may recall I got a whole damn novel out of Operation Jennifer in, um, 2004-05 (published in '06). It was leaked to the press, in the shape of Seymour Hersh, in 1974. Not as secret as you might think ...

44:

Well, yeah. I enjoyed your book(s) very much. I was trying to imply that it wasn't much of a secret, despite what the Telegraph article says about it finally being admitted to. Attempts at sarcasm sometimes get me into trouble.

45:

Re: My takes on the Singularity--see forthcoming novels. :-) It's going to require a LOT of pages to get into that one.

46:

mattaningram @10:

Is there anyone else who finds it more interesting when a character who is human (perhaps post-human) seems truly alien to us? For some reason many people can't stand this, and thus most sci-fi movies and books simply have stories and characters which feel like they could be placed anywhere and just given different costumes and toys.
I much prefer characters who are products of their strange sci-fi environment, not my regular early 21st century human environment.

Very much seconded.

One thing I value most (when it is present) in written SF, is exploring how technological change alters human behavior.

Ray Bradbury once said "I actually write about my contemporaries, only dress them in galactic clothes." That's what almost all of Golden Age SF was, what ALL movie SF is, and exactly what I do not want to read or see. I want to see behaviors fundamentally impossible in today's world, but made possible by some future technology and/or discovery. Real world example -- male/female interactions have been greatly altered by the Pill. This aspect of our current society would seem quite alien and very "science-fictional" to a reader from the time before widespread reliable contraceptives (and was explored by VERY few SF writers), and perhaps difficult to relate to. And therein lies the problem. I like reading about characters I cannot really relate to -- of human ancestry but immortal, sexless, hermaphroditic, amphibious, mind-linked, etc. So do all readers of transhuman/posthuman fiction.

But we seem to be a fairly small minority.

47:

I have visions for the future based on science. We will learn how neutrinos will work and this will usher in a whole new era of electronic and power being merged into one new set of sciences which will allow 1) nuclear fusion using deuterium, thus solving all our power problems for billions of years, and taking us to the stars in star trek fashion, 2) neutrino communications will be possible directly through the earth from point to point and for the first time we will discover itelligent life in the universe also using neutrino communications. Because nuclear processes emit enormous amounts of neutrino power, we will literally be able to "see" all out nuclear plants on earth as well as see these sources from other beings out in space. I also think we will find that neutrinos are actually very high frequency gravity waves, much like photons are very high freqency electromagnetic waves. Once we better understand how electronic and nuclear processes actuazly work we will be in a position to do great things. We will need to merge EM, QED, and the general theory of relativity into one set of equations before we can make progress. So far that has not been done. We need fresh thinking in these areas.

48:

Science fiction tells you everything about the present, and nothing about the future :)

One reason why I enjoy reading old sci-fi novels from time to time.

49:

Revisting my own comments and Charlies @ 38-40, and after doing some digging, and remebering that it is a LONG time since I did a Physics degree, and went off to do Engineering instead.....
I am firmly of the opinion that QM is an incomplete theory, no matter its' impressive results and list of predictions confirmed.
Ther are almost certainly hidden variables, somewhere in the system.
There is even proof, of a sort.
The famous (and WRONG) "Copenhagen interpretation" of QM states that you can't predict what any individual particle will do. And often, the double-slit/single-slit experiment is used to justify this.

However:
IF you take a double-slit, and fire single, individual photons at said slits, (say one every 10 seconds, or one a minute - which we can now do) then ....
At first, it looks as if you have ONE slit, and the "spots" where the photons hit appear to be random.
But, as the number of photons fired increases, even with a long interval between firings (such as one minute, above) then, once you have got (about) 1000 spots, you can se the beginning of a pattern. Once you have got to 5000 firings, lo, & behold (!) you have the standard double-slit interference pattern.
Therefore there MUST be a hidden varibale, somewhere acting like Adam Smith's "invisible hand".

One slight problem with all this: We need the mathematics to explain it, and someone to listen.
Meanwhile, first results from CERN suggest Higgs-Boson limits are between 100-150 GeV.

I believe the phrase "Interesting Times" might apply?

50:

Charlie: A big ole photo on top of the article ought to do the trick. 2x the size of the avatars would be enough.

51:

Just thought I'd mention that over at the Internet Review of Science Fiction (now in its final issue), writer David Levine offers his own take on the difference between science fiction and futurism.

http://irosf.com/q/zine/article/10631

(Incidentally, thanks for the comment Heteromeles. I should say, though, that I didn't mean to slight biology, let alone biotechnology-and certainly, there are plenty of people in physics who've objected to this line of argument when I've offered it in the past, and I think it's just as true for that field.)

52:

Come now, Charlie, don't be so modest! Your prediction for the iPad was spot on, better than anyone else's, and your essays about how manned interstellar travel is a non-starter are downright reasonable. You're frequently blogging about the future. You are one of the best futurists out there!

53:

Scratch that last post. I cannot read.

Specials

Merchandise

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Elizabeth Bear published on February 12, 2010 12:19 AM.

The future of web publishing, part seventeen million and six. was the previous entry in this blog.

What I did this weekend is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Search this blog

Propaganda