Genes, genomes, and skiffy

Tom James @ 09-02-2009

beesKen MacLeod has a monograph up on genomics, sociology and science-fiction at the genomics forum:

Social scientists are less likely than natural scientists to star as villains or heroes in SF. Their work, however, has deeply influenced the genre.

At first or second or third hand – directly, through popularizations, and as refracted through mass media – anthropology, economics, sociology, and political theory have all raised questions to which SF writers have imagined answers.

As well as highlighting the importance of sociology and economics to the development of science fiction MacLeod suggests a reading list of suitable novels that are relevant to his topic. He also compliments us literary SF fans:

Written SF (whose core readership and reviewers are more scientifically informed than the general public) usually has to hew to stricter standards of scientific plausibility…

Damn staight.

[via Ken MacLeod][image from Todd Huffman on flickr]


Smart drugs and body-mods to usher in a new Enlightenment?

Paul Raven @ 07-03-2008

pills Of all the rumours coming in from the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference this year (my complimentary tickets for which obviously got lost in the mail somehow, worse luck), I’ve been most intrigued by Quinn Norton‘s talk – and I’ll bet we’ll be hearing a lot about it from the transhumanist bloggers in the next few days, too.

Apparently Norton discussed the potential of new cognitive drugs and body augmentation to produce a “second Enlightenment” – a global stimulation of intellectual pursuits that might encourage seditious thoughts and behaviour, much to the consternation of repressive governments. [image by ninjapoodles]

I can see what Norton is saying, and I have a certain sympathy. But it’s hardly a new idea, though; look back at rave culture in the late eighties and early nineties here in the UK, or Douglas Rushkoff’s early books, and you’ll see similar ideas being advanced. But the internet wasn’t even out of its infancy at that point, so things are arguably different now – if only at a the level of global interpersonal communication.

What do you think – is Norton a harbinger of change, or a wide-eyed techno-utopian?

[ PS – if anyone finds an audio recording or YouTube video of Norton’s talk, please send Futurismic the link via the Contacts page and we’ll put it up here for everyone to enjoy. ]