It's hard to talk about gene manipulation, climate change, or artificial intelligence without boring or confusing most people. But a well-told story about an experiment gone horribly wrong goes great with popcorn, and poses ethical questions that anyone with a Netflix account can understand.
That's the premise of Dr. Andrew Maynard's book, Films From The Future: The Technology and Morality of Sci-Fi Movies. Dr. Maynard is a physicist by trade, specializing in nanotechnology and emerging technologies in general. When he's not writing about sci-fi films, he's advising government organizations in the UK and the U.S. about innovation risk, a subject he also researches and teaches as the director of the Risk Innovation Lab at Arizona State University.
We speak with Dr. Maynard about how good sci-fi can help us cope with future shock, why the rules of great storytelling are not beholden to scientific accuracy, and the key role fiction plays in our public discourse around technology ethics.