Technologist, blogger, activist and science fiction author Cory Doctorow raised the question of whether sci-fi predicts the future or influences it, in yesterday’s fascinating talk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
In his latest novel Makers, Doctorow imagines a future where the economy has broken down, and society has returned to the days of artisans and autonomy, with people being able to manufacture anything they want – and can imagine – from discarded tech, information on the internet and 3D printer technology.
Encouraging the audience to record the event using whatever technology was at their disposal, Doctorow discussed economic history and trends since the days of the industrial revolution; and the opportunities presented by the latest technology, proving to be a learned and knowledgeable speaker – even more so when the talk gave way to questions from the floor.
Here, he responded with intelligence, charm and wit to questions on topics as varied as World Bank policies, the scarcity of natural resources and the possible uses of 3D printing technology once it makes its way into the mainstream.
Although he didn’t read from his work, Doctorow’s measured intelligence and enthusiasm for his subject matter shone through, no doubt encouraging many in the audience to seek out Makers for themselves – and, influenced by its premise and with its Creative Commons licensing – perhaps even fashion something of their own from its raw material.