Intel Inspires Sci-fi Writers with “The Tomorrow Project”

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Real science inspires science-fiction, and while we see this often in the consultations we provide, we have another great non-entertainment industry example for you. Last year, Intel Corporation’s The Tomorrow Project introduced four science-fiction writers to the latest research in photonics, robotics, telematics, dynamic physical rendering and intelligent sensors. Then, the writers let their imaginations run wild. The end results are four short science-fiction stories that imagine a future where this latest research is the old research. 

If you find Intel’s hiring of sci-fi writers a bit strange, that’s understandable. It’s not often that you hear of large semiconductor companies taking the time to inspire science-fiction. But according to Brian David Johnson, a futurist and future caster at Intel Corporation, the mix of Intel and sci-fi writers makes sense: “What science fiction does is it gives us a way to think about the future. It gives a way to think about the implications of the technology that we’re building on the people who will actually be using it.” 

Johnson’s objective is to use science-fiction as a “design tool for the development of technology and new products.” Science-fiction is a way to get the wheels turning, the creative ideas pumping at Intel – which makes sense, as long as science has been inspiring science-fiction, science-fiction has been inspiring science. It’s a two way street and it appears Intel is ready to get its engine going.

The statements and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the event participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for this event or of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.