Science Fiction Blends with S&T Reality
From the recent Homeland Security Science and Technology Stakeholders Conference comes the news that stepping out of the box, DHS received the pro-bono assistance of science fiction writers to take a snapshot of the future.
David Montgomery of the Washington Post wrote that the recent Homeland Security S&T Stakeholders meeting felt more like a convention of futuristic yarn-spinners . By involving the pro-bono assistance of science fiction writers from Sigma - The Science Fiction Think Tank, DHS sought to "help managers think more broadly about projects, especially about potential reactions and unintended consequences."
SIGMA is a group of science fiction writers who offer futurism consulting to the United States government and appropriate NGOs. We provide a new concept in public service "think tanks"-- an association of speculative writers who have spent careers exploring the future.
Many SIGMA members are Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers; all are science fiction writers who have spent careers applying their technical and literary talents in exploring the future of science, technology, society and cultures. SIGMA provides a significant pool of talent for volunteer pro bono consultation with the Federal government and other organizations which need the imagination that only speculative writers can provide.
Certainly, getting pro-bono assistance from sci-fi writers could be valuable. However, futurists skilled in security applications actually exist. I know of at least one whose reputation of "seeing" trends in applied technology crosses the boundaries of a few of the 3-letter agencies. Additionally, and aside from the fact that DARPA is charged with seeking high-risk research solutions to emerging problems, "Yankee ingenuity" is known to be innovative and freethinking. There is probably no shortage of "game changing" technologies and solutions to homeland security problems already being explored and developed by American entrepreneurs and research labs. It might be interesting for DHS to call a meeting of technologists whose efforts are focused on homeland security solutions in which a series of brainstorming sessions might also reveal insightful directions.