Science fiction, tech, and games inspire each other; what was once science fiction is becoming technological fact. Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, has often said that “we’re living in science fiction.” And that’s the topic of the latest VR event by GamesBeat and Oculus, “Science fiction, tech, and games”, coming up February 17, 10-11 a.m. PT.
In this hour-long conversation, computer scientist and accomplished science fiction writer Ramez Naam, Tim Chang, partner at Silicon Valley venture capital fund Mayfield, and GamesBeat’s Dean Takahashi, will talk about the inescapable connection between science fiction and technological fact, and how it can foreshadow the future.
Before he started writing novels, Naam spent 13 years at Microsoft, leading teams working on machine learning, neural networks, information retrieval, and internet scale systems. That unique background positions him as a bridge between science fiction and technology, helping him create visions of the future tied to what is technologically possible now.
His ideas are now more relevant than ever, given the advances in AI and other digital technologies that have the potential to push us closer to a post-human future. Naam speaks to that future, as well as the possible risks that companies driving toward it may not see.
His Nexus trilogy, set in 2040, is also striking in its ability to foresee the political ramifications of technology. In the series, a mind-altering drug called Nexus immerses users in an augmented version of reality. The creator of Nexus is a brain-hacking civil libertarian who believes that it will free humanity and allow people to move on to a post-human future, where their minds can live on, independent of their bodies.
But in the novel, the U.S. government sees Nexus as an illegal drug, something that can drive a wedge between humans and enhanced humans. The governement wants to stamp it out, and crush terrorists who plan to use it to disrupt society. Chinese researchers conduct frightening experiments that use Nexus to blend humanity and AI. Freedom-minded hackers are caught in the middle.
In addition to the Nexus series, he’s penned two non-fiction books: The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet, and More than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement. Naam’s books have earned the Prometheus Award, the Endeavour Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, been listed as an NPR Best Book of the Year, and have been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke award.
Naam happens to be good friends with venture capitalist Tim Chang. Chang’s focus is finding startups that fit into a vision of what the future could be. As he said at a recent GamesBeat event, when people brainstorm ideas to imagine that future, they either end up as storylines or businesses, or both — with the two really influencing each other. He’s been twice named to the Forbes Midas list of Top Tech Investors and received the Gamification Summit award for Special Achievement. His venture capital experience includes leading investments at Norwest Venture Partners and Gabriel Venture Partners, and he’s funded game companies such as Ngmoco and Playdom. His operational experience includes working in product management and engineering across Asia for Gateway, Inc., and General Motors.
And of course, our moderator is GamesBeat’s own lead writer, Dean Takahashi, who has spent 24 years covering games.
The event will include live Q&As, opportunities to interact and socialize with fellow attendees, and more. If you have an Oculus headset, you’ll be able to use the Oculus Venus app to view the panel in VR. You can also enjoy the conversation in our Zoom Webinar.
Ways to join the conversation: