PWC recommended that corporations should ask science fiction writers about the future


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/12/07/brian-david-johnson.html


#2

Science fictions do not agree with each other - not at all. Compare The Matrix with Star Trek. Because of this, it should be easy for an ambitious board member to pick a short story to prove whatever point he or she wants.


#3

Yet we still have Musk referring to Red Mars and The Culture, even though they represent the opposite of what he is doing.


#4

For an initial fee in the range of $50,000… he typically pays writers $300 to $500 for each one… and scan them with an eye to intellectual property, novelty, and technology

Pretty good deal - pay $300 for a story you can harvest for intellectual property that could end up worth a bundle. It feels kind of exploitative, TBH. It’s one thing to invent, for the purposes of a story, a technology so compelling it inspires someone to make it real. It’s another to ask someone to consider a particular business case, invent new technology ideas that would be useful for that business, then pay them a few hundred dollars and effectively sell on those ideas with a tens of thousands of dollars markup.


#5

Almost like Paul Ryan quoting Rage Against the Machine…


#6

Related to this, when I was with the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, they had a futures group that would look at trends to define potential future needs. The members of the group did get inspiration from SciFy. So does DARPA and other commands.


#7

The one time that Science Fiction won’t get lumped in with Fantasy.
(Drives me mad, that, in bookshops and libraries and review pages.)

(And PwC? Really just another bunch of late-stage capitalist boosters not deserving of any assistance from civilised people. One of the “Big Four” accounting scandal generators.)


#8

When I worked for [well known table top games company] anything you wrote while on-site became their property, and anything off-site featuring any of their IP also became theirs.

This sounds fractionally worse. I agree with @Boundegar and @the_borderer too, nothing like people missing the sci-fi point and carrying on regardless.


#9

Yeah, it seems to be standard contract language in the video game industry that anything you make while employed there, during office hours or at home, is company property. (Which is inconsistently enforced because it’s pretty common practice for people to quit their jobs to work on a hobby project they started while working there.) I’ve always found that to be ridiculous, but this seems significantly more exploitative. The authors are essentially just being paid normal rates for stories - the intellectual property is a freebie.


#10

PwC didn’t invent the idea. Google’s certainly been having events with A-list writers (not just SF) well before 2017:


#11

For quite a while now, sci-fi writers have been helping US gov security agencies. ex: Imagining of future threats.


#12

1961 Analog published “Science Fiction is too Conservative” by G. Harry Stine. Turns out Harry was too optimistic. Then there’s the total garbage of Ayn Rand that was seized on by a generation of conservatives and led them to totally screw up the Social Contract.

No, science fiction authors don’t have some sort of magical crystal ball; what they (some of them) do have is the ability to write good stories based on interpolations of trends in society and technology, but their crystal balls are no better than anyone else’s.


#13

Yeah… this is the same dude who recently called himself a socialist, too.


#14

“What does Operations care about a bunch of damn books? A book in Dutch. A book out of Venezuela. Mystery stories in Arabic.”


#15

Sure, but I guess the point is that while they don’t usually work as predictions, they provide ideas.

1984 sure provided a lot of ideas that were put into practice.

And then, I still think that Starship Troopers only makes sense as a dystopia warning of the perils of excessive militarism, but I fear the author wouldn’t have agreed with me…


#16

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