Write a story, make a video, invent the Next Big Thing...
An engineer spend ing time at work reading fiction stories about the future—or worse, watching sci-fi movies—could upset, even anger, his or her manager. But what if there’s a possibility that by engaging speculations about the future, engineers can enrich their capacities for creating designs and artifacts, in the here and now, of enduring value?
A small but growing cadre of savvy technologists argue that, at least in measured doses, encounters with imaginary worlds and futuristic devices could have a decisive influence on innovation. David Brian Johnson, Intel’s staff futurist, even insists in a recent book, Science Fiction Prototyping, that by writing stories about future products, engineers can do a better job of actually making them.
Hold on. Isn’t fiction escapist, a waste of an engineer’s time?
It depends. Wernher von Braun, the pioneer of rocketry, was inspired by Jules Verne’s stories of travel to the moon. Leo Szilard, who worked on the first atomic weapons, was inspired by H.G. Wells’s The World Set Free (1914).