Multidisciplinary approaches to the future: SF meets S+Arts

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Multidisciplinary approaches to the future: SF meets S+Arts

Postby Crone » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:04 pm

My husband just got back from a conference in Germany - multi-disciplinary, invitation only, about 20 - 30 people. The Topic: How can we give whatever replaces us in a million years an idea of our society and culture? How to encode it and preserve it? What to put in? The people invited - physicists, biologists, engineers, historians, art and design people. (My husband is an anthropologist, speciality cognitive ant, currently working on fuzzy logic with some others...) I went along and saw sights and shopped - husband got back to the hotel 11 or 12 every night, excited about the day. This is an on-going group and will be publishing a journal/book.

Husband's comments: physicists seemed mainly concerned with setting parameters. It was really fun to describe some device and have the engineers say we could build that. They agreed DNA would be the storage device. Biologists suggested any subsequent creature would be human-like - husband disagreed. He argued that at least three species were at the same level as Homo erectus - apes and chimps, (we can forget them), dolphins and parrots. In a million years? They could be able to decipher... My husband also argued for content to be like Wikopedia - anybody can put in anything.

He also said he was sure everyone there had read SF as an undergrad, then given it up when they became postgrads and had to do Serious Work. So they used SF, but it was pretty much Heinlein and Asimov. My husband was an exception - I give him half a dozen hard SF books every Christmas and for his birthday (I think a hinterland is important...) He reads them, feeling great guilt.

I suggested an SF writer should be invited to the next conference. He said SF writers expect to be paid. The conf. paid a Euro 400. honorarium - we spent about twice that in expenses. (This was funded by South Korea, by the way.) Next conferance, next summer, if the funding comes through... (We academics may be cheap but we're not easy.)

If anyone is interested, I'll post the publications info when the papers come out.

I like the idea but, as a user rather than initiator of technology, am a little skeptical of the engineers making it work in all conditions. I've noticed "it" always works unless the wind is in the east and a stork perching on the chimney. There is, of course, a fix - kick the cooking pot and turn widdershins four times. But then I'm mainly F rather than SF.
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