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The Diamond Age

Photo credit Matt Keller

Last year, author Neal Stephenson wrote a World Policy Institute article titled Innovation Starvation, in which he argues that science fiction writing can, and should, serve as a model and inspiration for innovators in the real world:

Good SF supplies a plausible, fully thought-out picture of an alternate reality in which some sort of compelling innovation has taken place. A good SF universe has a coherence and internal logic that makes sense to scientists and engineers. Examples include Isaac Asimov’s robots, Robert Heinlein’s rocket ships, and William Gibson’s cyberspace. As Jim Karkanias of Microsoft Research puts it, such icons serve as hieroglyphs—simple, recognizable symbols on whose significance everyone agrees.

In pursuit of this, Stephenson founded Project Hieroglyph, “a publication, collective conversation and incubator for the ‘moonshot ecosystem’ bringing together writers, scientists, engineers, technologists, industrialists and other creative, synoptic thinkers to collaborate on bold ideas in a protected space for creative play, science, and imagination”. He has also had the pleasure of seeing an idea from one of his books, The Diamond Age, become reality.

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