Friday, November 28, 2008

Fencon: Gregory Benford on problems facing the world

Finally, a last post from this year's Fencon.

Science fiction writer and physics professor Gregory Benford was the Guest of Honor at Fencon 2008. In his GOH speech he shared his thoughts on topics such as American dominance in the world and its role to play in the technological future. Having been in science fiction fandom for four decades, Benford is proud of American science fiction and fandom influence on the world, which he puts in such blunt terms as "We own the future". At the same time he acknowledges that the future is not all rosy, and that science fiction may be the proverbial canary in the coal mine, signaling of darker times to come. The fact that fantasy genre outsells science outsells science fiction by an order of magnitude is another sign of trouble, says Benford, because, in his opinion, all fantasy is dark.

Benford's keynote speech on Saturday was the problems facing the world and what can be done about them. Of those, global climate change was the most significant issue. He assured us that whatever is being done to counter it isn't working, because global warming is typically viewed as a moral problem (excessive consumption), when it needs to be seen as an engineering problem. To that end he proposed an unconventional -- or perhaps little known -- approach. At the end of his speech he spent some time on space travel and overpopulation.

The whole article can be found on my web site.

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