Looking Further: Much Better or Much Worse in 20 Years?

 A conversation with David Brin, Physicist & Science Fiction Author and Brenda Cooper, CIO, City of Kirkland (WA), and Science Fiction Author

David Brin says science fiction is like predictive history. Will we see a better future? Brin says the odds are against us, but he likes to follow the odds. Brenda Cooper says she thinks we’re living at a better time than any other in human history.

Brin explains that our ability to delude ourselves allows us to create beautiful sci-fi worlds, but it also allows us to delude ourselves about the power of wealth, food, luxuries. He has co-coined the term sousveillance.

“The average person has only one defense in dealing with power and that’s the truth,” Brin exclaims.

In every generation there are grouches who don’t believe we can deal with expanding challenges. No one is paying to attention to what works or what might work. “We need a choke chain on our government to remind the government that it is a dog, not a wolf.”

“I’d like to draft several thousand Americans, most of them retirees,” Brin says and allow them to wander around in government, allow them into any room. If they reveal anything at all, they’ll face a month in prison, but if what they see is heinous enough, it will be worth it.

Cooper says she’s taken a lot of positivity from science fiction, like Kim Stanley Robinson. It allows us to explore both the bad that they can do and the good that they can do.

America is becoming more and more split and more and more nostalgic, Brin says, which is why they’re rejecting the science fiction mentality. Cooper reminds us of the Hieroglyph Project, which is connecting scientists with science fiction to return vision and imagination to the scientific process.

Cooper would reform education and promote global science connection. Brin would require everyone to declare what they own. Over the long run, there has to be a secular trend toward a world that’s more open. Our general system in the U.S. thrives in light, but it hurts our rivals.