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Intel Hiring Sci-Fi Writers to Drive Technology?

By - Source: Electronista | B 35 comments

Either Intel is utterly insane, or utterly brilliant in hiring on the imaginative minds of science-fiction writers to push technology into a new era.

To be honest, the fact that Intel is hiring science-fiction writers to help shape its future technologies makes sense. Why? Because ultimately Intel is about making money, and to do that it must sell technologies to demanding consumers. Demanding people. So while it's meeting the physical needs of today, it also needs guidance for the demands of tomorrow. This is where science-fiction writers come in.

Look at it this way: authors create stories about people. George Lucas' Star Wars wasn't about speeding across the desert in a landspeeder or speeding down a Death Star trench in an X-Wing fighter, it was a about a boy who yearned to be like his father, who saved a girl and gathered enough guts to take on a regime that thrived on killing millions of innocent people. Science-fiction writers create their protagonists, their antagonists and the situation surrounding the two. They write about people and the secondary technology required to accomplish their journey.

So in essence, Intel is signing on science-fiction writers so that they can conjure up characters existing five, ten years down the road and using the Intel-designed tools that they will need to get things done. To get the creative juices going, Intel created "The Tomorrow Project" which shows "the important effects that contemporary research will have on our future and the relevance that this research has for each of us." So far Intel has released four stories which can be read individually here or together as a complete ebook here in PDF format.

"All four stories in this collection are based on technologies Intel is currently developing in our labs," the company states. "What is striking about them is that even though they are all science fiction stories they are all first and foremost, stories about people. Each story is unique in its own vision and portrayal of life in the future, but each of them is extraordinarily good at capturing the human drama of the future. These stories are not about technology, they are about the complex and fascinating lives of their characters. Technology is simply a part of the drama."

Spearheading Intel's campaign to see into the future is resident futurist (and "future caster") Brian David Johnson. According to Intel, his mission is to develop an actionable vision for computing in 2020. To accomplish this, he's using ethnographic field studies, technology research, trend data, and even science fiction to provide Intel with a pragmatic vision of consumers and computing.

"Along with reinventing TV, Johnson has been pioneering development in artificial intelligence, robotics, and using science fiction as a design tool," Intel says. "He speaks and writes extensively about future technologies in articles and scientific papers as well as science fiction short stories and novels."

"What science-fiction does is gives us a way to think about the future," he explains in the video seen below. "It gives us a way to think about the implications of the technologies that we're building on the people who are actually using them."

So what's in store for us in the next five to ten years? Servant robots that will massage our tired feet after a long day of typing? Laser-based swords that will accidentally lop off a few fingers when trimming the hedges? No. Sensors. Lots of them. Hardware-based and even software-based that will learn what you like, what you don't like, and will give you recommendations. So much for hopes of a replicator. Guess that will stay within the Star Trek universe for another few decades or more? Probably.

The Tomorrow Project and Futurism at Intel

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  • 22 Hide
    dalethepcman , August 13, 2011 2:00 AM
    Quote:
    No, no it's not technology, it's sparkly & shiny magic! What did you say?! You are asking details on your citizenPad's CPU and memory? Well buddy I'm afraid we'll gonna have to kill you, you don't fit the generic consumer profile.


    Almost accurate, but you won't die.

    Freedom is irrelevant, Self-determination is irrelevant, you will be assimilated, resistance is futile, we are Apple.
  • 18 Hide
    amigafan , August 13, 2011 12:58 AM
    Funny how everything nowadays is: "it's not about technology, it's about you!" stuff. It's like they are afraid people will be alienated by the technology so they want to hide it away.

    From simplified user interfaces (avoiding/hiding menus in applications and OS etc.) to increasing amount of less technical news on the tech sites.

    *** a (sarcastic) peek into the future: ***

    No, no it's not technology, it's sparkly & shiny magic! What did you say?! You are asking details on your citizenPad's CPU and memory? Well buddy I'm afraid we'll gonna have to kill you, you don't fit the generic consumer profile.
  • 13 Hide
    CaedenV , August 13, 2011 12:33 AM
    man, those are some ugly chairs...
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    CaedenV , August 13, 2011 12:33 AM
    man, those are some ugly chairs...
  • 18 Hide
    amigafan , August 13, 2011 12:58 AM
    Funny how everything nowadays is: "it's not about technology, it's about you!" stuff. It's like they are afraid people will be alienated by the technology so they want to hide it away.

    From simplified user interfaces (avoiding/hiding menus in applications and OS etc.) to increasing amount of less technical news on the tech sites.

    *** a (sarcastic) peek into the future: ***

    No, no it's not technology, it's sparkly & shiny magic! What did you say?! You are asking details on your citizenPad's CPU and memory? Well buddy I'm afraid we'll gonna have to kill you, you don't fit the generic consumer profile.
  • 10 Hide
    Anonymous , August 13, 2011 1:20 AM
    I want my flying car.
  • -3 Hide
    Soma42 , August 13, 2011 1:52 AM
    Lol I understand that you have to think of something before it can be invented, but this is stretching it a bit much.

    I want a transporter and warp drive and time travel and a quantum computer, but it doesn't mean they're all possible...
  • 22 Hide
    dalethepcman , August 13, 2011 2:00 AM
    Quote:
    No, no it's not technology, it's sparkly & shiny magic! What did you say?! You are asking details on your citizenPad's CPU and memory? Well buddy I'm afraid we'll gonna have to kill you, you don't fit the generic consumer profile.


    Almost accurate, but you won't die.

    Freedom is irrelevant, Self-determination is irrelevant, you will be assimilated, resistance is futile, we are Apple.
  • -4 Hide
    ikyung , August 13, 2011 3:07 AM
    Soma42Lol I understand that you have to think of something before it can be invented, but this is stretching it a bit much.I want a transporter and warp drive and time travel and a quantum computer, but it doesn't mean they're all possible...

    Why isn't it possible? They already have researchers and scientists who have been studying transporters, warp drives, time travel and quantum computing for a while. We already know time and space can be bent using force, therefore, time and space can be manipulated.

    Intel is far ahead of any other computer chip makers. They already came out and said that they are working towards making computer chips as small as atoms. So far, they have processing chips as small as the tip of a pin. I applaud Intel for funding a project like Morrow.
  • 7 Hide
    Soma42 , August 13, 2011 3:16 AM
    ikyungWhy isn't it possible? They already have researchers and scientistswho have been studying transporters, warp drives, time travel and quantum computing for a while.


    I know there is research going on with most of those things, but it's scientists, engineers and the next Einstein who are going to make those happen, not science fiction writers.

    It seems like a total waste of money for a writer to have his whole job be just to think of something for the Intel guys to work on.

    My point is, that since writers are good at writing fiction and Intel is good at making electronics then Intel should just learn how to read and keep the writers doing what they do best.

    Hell, with Asimov, P.K. Dick, Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Orson Scott Card, 2001: A Space Odyssey, etc. they already have a road map for the future.
  • 0 Hide
    jhansonxi , August 13, 2011 3:45 AM
    I'm more concerned about a future with something like Chalker's Master System.
  • 3 Hide
    jecastej , August 13, 2011 4:13 AM
    It makes a lot of sense! Hiring very smart people, creatives in this case, to say how they think technology could be used by regular people in the next years and INTEL won't have to spend a ton of money and time creating actual prototypes but only evaluating if any of those virtual inventions have any potential or not to take it to a next level.

    If you want to picture the future of society who are you going to ask? The technical guy who doesn't have visualization resources about how man and society acts, needs and think or the writer who does that for living?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 13, 2011 4:28 AM
    Maybe Intel is going to start just tell BS stories about how fast their processors are and not come up with results. Oh, wait, that's Congress.
  • 1 Hide
    DjEaZy , August 13, 2011 5:53 AM
    ... social engineering the intel way...
  • 6 Hide
    noob2222 , August 13, 2011 6:14 AM
    Seems Intel may be looking into patent mongering. hire a bunch of people to think of things, slap a patent on it and just sit back and wait for someone to make it real.
  • -1 Hide
    pirateboy , August 13, 2011 6:39 AM
    sexrobots will drive technology....like the VCR did in the eighties
    I want my Cherry2000
  • 6 Hide
    fflam , August 13, 2011 6:40 AM
    Quote:
    I know there is research going on with most of those things, but it's scientists, engineers and the next Einstein who are going to make those happen, not science fiction writers.


    i bet if you ask 99% of those scientists/engineers they will say that they got started being scientists/engineers because of a sci-fi book they read.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , August 13, 2011 7:59 AM
    Well, let's see... we have already been able to transport an electron, or was it a photon?
    Anyway, point is, transporters are possible. It's only a matter of time, scale and power until they are able to dematerialize/materialize relatively big objects (and possibly even organic matter).

    Furthermore, research into FTL has been ongoing for some time, and while mainstream science proclaimed (somewhat in a rush if you ask me) that it's impossible, one has to take into account that current technologies available to the consumer would of course be inadequate for such a task, however, what about techs that were never released and are by about 5 to 10 decades ahead of what we currently use?
    Lol... 'mainstream' is such a depraved area that it's really pathetic.
  • 3 Hide
    demonhorde665 , August 13, 2011 10:22 AM
    Soma42Lol I understand that you have to think of something before it can be invented, but this is stretching it a bit much.I want a transporter and warp drive and time travel and a quantum computer, but it doesn't mean they're all possible...


    don't forget replicators !!! best star trek tech ever, would wipe out hunger ! :p  they can replicate mroe than food too !,

    but in a small part we are already workign on thsi granted they don't do thier work from molecular samples like St's replicators do , nor do they make everythign under the sun, but companies are makig gmachines that "craft" items in store , so far it's been applied to cloths and simple plastic items , but we'll see them in stores in the next 10 years.
  • -6 Hide
    demonhorde665 , August 13, 2011 10:25 AM
    noob2222Seems Intel may be looking into patent mongering. hire a bunch of people to think of things, slap a patent on it and just sit back and wait for someone to make it real.


    very likely

    i can see teh scenario.

    sci-fi guy thinks up soem world cahnging tech now , 50-100 years when intel or soem other company makes it real, intel gets allt eh money or sues others to get teh money
  • 1 Hide
    Burodsx , August 13, 2011 1:56 PM
    I want holograms where we could decorate our house with different settings. Make your house hold look like a forest, a beach, etc.
  • 1 Hide
    godnodog , August 13, 2011 1:59 PM
    Just do the damn holodeck.
  • 3 Hide
    southernshark , August 13, 2011 2:11 PM
    Well Intel has a ton of money. I doubt they are budgeting more than 500k on all of these writers. That's a drop in the bucket for Intel. So it makes sense when put in that perspective. If the writers help them somehow, great. If the writers don't help them... they write it off as a minor business expense.
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