How Science Fiction Is Driving Innovation at Intel

Brian David Johnson is Intel's first official futurist, helping the chip maker to imagine tomorrow and then build it. Johnson reads the sci-fi works of Vernor Vinge, Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross.

What's the Latest Development?


Like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells before him, Brian David Johnson is a futurist. Johnson also enjoys the distinction of being Intel's professional seer, helping the chip maker to imagine tomorrow, then build it. Among the people who have influenced his vision, Johnson names science fiction authors Vernor Vinge, Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross. Currently, there are three ideas Johnson sees as most essential to technology's future: "One is called the secret life of data, the second is the ghost of computing and the third is the future of fear."

What's the Big Idea?

By the secret life of data, Johnson means a future in which data crunching becomes more essential while simultaneously becoming more hidden. Future societies will be managed by machines talking to machines, he says. Ghost computing describes the future of microprocessors, which have already shrunk to microscopic sizes. So what happens when they disappear completely? Finally, as Johnson looks 10 to 15 years into technology's future, the biggest obstacle he sees to progress is people's irrational fears. "The problem with fear is that fear sells," he says, but "very few innovations have come out of being fearful." 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Car culture and suburbs grow right-wing populism, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

Pixabay
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Flickr / 13winds
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less