BBC News has a good article on the importance of science fiction, featuring Peter Thiel, Peter Diamandis, neuroscientist Susan Greenfield and her science fiction novel 2121 – A Tale from the Next Century. In one of his great short videos, Jason Silva talks of the fundamental psychological importance of the awe and wonder inspired by good science fiction, which can give us the sense of purpose and drive that we need to do great things. The article mentions Project Hieroglyph, started by Neal Stephenson‘s article on “Innovation Starvation“, calling for a return to inspiration in contemporary science fiction.
Mr Silva, who hosts Brain Games on the National Geographic Channel, focuses on the power of awe to not only inspire us, but in changing the very chemistry of our brains – letting us push boundaries and come up with big ideas.
He cites the work of psychologist Nicholas Humphrey, who says being awe-struck reconfigures the brain, giving us a sense of purpose which pushes us to strive.
Furthermore, throughout history narrative has been an important way through which humans realise their potential.
“As mankind we think in narratives,” he says.
“Narrative is needed for this,” he says, “to keep people dreaming.”
This is what the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University is trying to do.
Project Hieroglyph has brought together sci-fi writers and scientists, so they can collaborate and create new narratives about human potential and the future.
“The mission of the centre is to get people thinking more creatively and more ambitiously about the future,” says director Ed Finn.