Science fiction is my favorite genre, regardless if it’s books, movies or TV shows. I enjoy reading about Isaac Asimov‘s worlds and galactic empires, and I usually don’t breathe while watching movies like Inception and Arrival, or TV shows like Dark and famous Star Trek.
Who wouldn’t be interested in topics like space traveling and discovering new populated planets with their own specific way of life, psychohistory, learning how to communicate with alien species, ability to control your (or others’) dreams, etc.
It was during this year’s Istanbul Innovation Days (#NextGenGov) when I realized how much more potential science fiction provides when combined with topics of economic development. I had the privilege to listen to a few sci-fi writers, from which Malka Older and Alex Levene left the biggest impression on me.
I’m sure many people will agree that this link (sci-fi & econ. development) is very interesting, but what I found intriguing was how to introduce sci-fi mindset to our workflow or how to be more sci-fi friendly?
At one point, Malka Older gave us a tip on writing sci-fi which I liked very much. I’m not sure if it was a tip on writing general sci-fi or economic sci-fi, but at this point it doesn’t matter since I’m focused on economic sci-fi anyway and find this helpful.
I can’t remember the exact words, but it was something like this:
- Think about things that frustrate you;
- Think of something wild and crazy that will fix the frustrations;
- Plug the holes – Get acquainted with the literature and think of newly formed interactions.
The first part I see as a trigger that will start you thinking.
The second part is the start of a journey to a parallel world where anything is possible, with no obstacles and frames. It’s a call to very creative solutions that can solve current frustrations.
The third part is a comeback to reality. I see it as a process of separating what is possible and what is not. But in the process, it should be double checked if something really is not possible, because…
After getting acquainted with the literature and (double)checking and filtering what’s possible, these new elements are linked to other elements (or actors) that already exist. This is where, for me personally, a charm of sci-fi is. For example, how does the invention of near-lightspeed spaceships and livable planets in our part of the Universe affect the global economy, how does the invention of realistic virtual reality (which is able to activate all our senses) affect tourism, or how does advancement of AI affect social relations (e.g. Her)?
Some of the previously mentioned things are still impossible since technology still doesn’t enable them, but some other things are not only possible but they exist nowadays and their inventors got the inspiration from sci-fi. Check this link for examples.
As technology and our knowledge of things around us rise, more and more things will be possible. For example these things.
So, sci-fi, besides being interesting, has also been useful and is inspiring creativity.
Some people and organizations, like the United Nations Development Program (organizer of Istanbul Innovation Days), acknowledge this. I also want to mention Malka Older’s tweet that I liked:
I repeat: your company/institute/agency should have a writer in residence, as well as a passel of social scientists on staff https://t.co/BMNOAW2BGP
— Malka Older (@m_older) November 29, 2018
I can see how hiring a writer might be a problem for smaller organizations due to limited funds, potential lack of writers, or simply lack of willingness for such a move. But I believe that doesn’t mean that some of the sci-fi creativity can’t be embedded into an organization.
Brainstorming and group thinking in various forms are quite common in our organization, I believe in others too. Putting some effort into experimenting with Malka’s tips for writing sci-fi and brainstorming sessions seem promising.
Sci-fi -Economic Development Brainstorming Form (in .docx):
sci-fi-economic development brainstorming
Featured image was taken from camerxn.tumblr.com and was made by Ryan He.