Friday, July 12, 2024

Elizabeth Bear, author of more 30 books and 130 short stories, is a Saturday panelist at the MIT Museum. (Photo: Kyle Cassidy)

The phone in your pocket that knows where you go, the home smart speaker that listens to your conversations, the artificial intelligence that can fake a photo and the driverless car waiting for you to step in and trust it – where does this all end? A MIT Press Bookstore and MIT Museum panel discussion Saturday may have answers. “How does science fiction use today’s technology to envision the future?” features Hugo Award-winning authors James Patrick Kelly, Elizabeth Bear, Suzanne Palmer and Ken Liu.

This event follows publication of the most recent of MIT Press’ “Twelve Tomorrows” series. Since 2011, when the MIT Technology Review commissioned an original collection of short fiction from leading science-fiction authors, “Twelve Tomorrows” has explored the role of developing technologies in the near and distant future. The MIT Press took over the series in 2018 and has published annual themed collections since around this central question; despite its longevity, this panel is the first of its kind, said David Olsen, publicist for the MIT Press. 

“Being better readers of science fiction, we might become better readers of our own future,” said Will Alexander, Saturday’s moderator and author of six middle-grader science fiction and fantasy books – including a National Book Award winner. “I am very excited about each of these authors individually, but putting all four of them together … there’s going to be a sense of fun, a sense of play, and I am very much looking forward to seeing what this event becomes.”

“How does science fiction use today’s technology to envision the future?” is from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at The MIT Museum, 314 Main St., Kendall Square, Cambridge. Free. “Communications Breakdown” will be available for sale. Information is here.