Announcing Scout: The Social Implications of Technology

Technology may be inevitable, but our response to it isn’t.

Today we’re officially launching Scout, a place to explore the social implications of technology.

Technology, well-deployed, can fight climate change, relieve suffering and make our lives easier. Followed blindly, it exacerbates inequality and can be used as a tool for oppression. Avoiding these traps is going to take an unprecedented level of strategic foresight.

From Facebook manipulating the national political consciousness to closed-door meetings at Harvard about creating synthetic human genomes, the stakes have never been higher.

It’s time we upgrade our imagination.

Last June, our Kickstarter backers threw their weight behind us, helping us reach our goal in just a week. Their overwhelming support made Scout financially possible, but more importantly, it inspired us to build something that goes far beyond the average tech news site.

The Scout we’re unveiling today is a powerful community of people dedicated to accelerating the creation of a better future. Doing that successfully is going to take two things — moral foresight and a disciplined imagination. Scout gives you the space, the people and the tools to foster both.

Every week, we’ll publish a dispatch that combines near-term science fiction and reporting to focus on a single topic. Our first dispatch is about Ethereum, a new technology that has the potential to reshape entire parts of society.

In Scout’s invite-only community, you’ll find insights, implications, and conversations with authors, foresight experts, and other top technologists. Once you join, we’ll invite you to connect with Scout’s community of power nerds IRL at events and scenario-planning games around the country with influencers, policymakers, and inventors.

In our eyes, victory means helping the world anticipate an opportunity or threat and getting the right people together to do something about it.

Why Science Fiction

Science fiction has a long history of informing high-level strategy at elite institutions: The NSA, the Department of Defense, Magic Leap, Google, and Intel, among many others, have all counted on science-fiction and strategic foresight experts to help them plan for uncertain futures. Ronald Reagan received weekly one- to three-page science fiction briefings during his presidency. His policy staff were the lucky recipients of 30–40 page weekly briefings.

Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page & Sergey Brin all publicly acknowledge the role that science fiction has played in shaping their world views. It serves as a blueprint for the visions and products they’re bringing into the world every day.

We want to help more people like you harness the power of strategic imagination.

That’s why we’re working with bestselling authors Greg Bear, Ramez Naam, Brenda Cooper, David Brin, Karl Schroeder, Madeline Ashby, and Tim Maughan. We’re excited to add many more contributors in the coming months and contribute to the growing intellectual, cultural, and gender diversity of science fiction.

Pitch us or recommend a contributor by emailing editor@scout.ai.

Why Membership

As a business, we’re focusing on membership rather than ads. There are two reasons for this: 1.We want to focus on creating great content and experiences that make you smarter and more creative. 2. We want to keep Scout ad-free.

The Scout community will rely on its members to grow intentionally. Each member will have two invitations to send to others they think would help make Scout an engaging and imaginative space.

Of course, we see this launch as just the first step. Scout is not (and will never be) a finished product. Your ideas, feedback and inspiration are welcome at editor@scout.ai.

We’re counting on you, our members and readers, to help us develop the most powerful ideas from the Scout community and spread them to the rest of the world.