Sci-Fact: science fiction as an accelerator of desirable realities

Jun 4, 2019 · 7 min read

By Victor Hugo Barreto
With contributions by
Sarah Brito and Rodrigo Turra;
Editor and preface by
Gustavo Nogueira (Gust).

Leia aqui em Português

Our guest in this edition: Lidia Zuin, journalist and futurologist, master in semiotics and doctorate in visual arts by Unicamp. She is head of the innovation and futurism nucleus of UP Lab and an Envisioning researcher, in addition to defining herself as a cyberpunk enthusiast. She has published science fiction short stories in collections and writes about futurology, technology, and science fiction.

A dear friend and part of Torus initiatives such as the 2nd edition of our study on the Zeitgeist of Learning, Lídia is a specialist that I am proud to be connected in Brazil and in the world. In the present time and in the future.

Sandglass is part of our ongoing program of time studies. The social infrastructure of affection in which TORUS invites a specialist to share knowledge about their vision of the time around us, for about an hour, weekly. As the sand grains of our hourglass run, we strengthen our network, narrow relationships, and experience, in a safe space of knowledge exchange.

Gustavo Nogueira (Gust)⏳❤️

Sandglass ⧖ Torus : Sci-Fact with Lidia Zuin

Our talk began by realising the rich dialogue between science fiction and technological innovation, or how Sci-Fi inspires and turns into Sci-Fact, not as a counterpoint, but as mutual influence.

Lidia presented us with her trajectory in the area from an interest that arose in an academic research for her Scientific Initiation in which she connected fictitious technology with real technology. The project was about a Japanese animation that talked about the possibility of people being able to connect to the Internet without the use of a device, which has now become a reality.

Although it was only with later academic research on virtual reality and art that Lidia had more contact with the concept of futurism or futurology, she was already struck by the fact that fictional works, mainly of the genre of Science Fiction in some way seemed to anticipate what possibilities for the future lie before us.

On the left, scene from “Black Mirror”, which points out the possibilities of an oppressive future; to the right, “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), film by science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke.

The Futurism we are talking about, also called Foresight, Futures Studies, Future Research, and Futurology is an area of ​​scientific research development that is increasingly integrated with strategic thinking combined with technology and business present in several universities of the world, and with a growing community in Brazil.

To prospect; to speculate; to imagine; to plan; these are some of the action verbs of those who study the future. In fact, studies of the future work with actions aimed at building a future, something that has not happened yet, which is in the process of transformation. As the futurist Jaqueline Weigel defines it:

“Look ahead to imagine what does not yet exist. Prospecting the future to decide the present. Anticipate the future and prepare to receive it. Clarity about the emerging possibilities for society, the market and the scope of work. Feed the creativity, foment the discussion and give the base to strategies, decisions, and actions in the present. This is the mission of a futurist. Futurism is practical, tangible, intelligent. “


Some examples of where the science of futurism is applicable:

1. In government strategies;

2. As a basis for Business Innovation;

3. To bring maturity to the new generations;

4. In the global discussions on sustainability and economy;

5. Supporting Digital Business Transformation;

6. In social debates, bringing didactics, empathy, and proximity to what can happen in the world

7. In Career Planning for the New Professions of the World

As Lidia tells us, it is not a matter of “predicting” the future. There is nothing esoteric or mystical in Futurism (although it does not disdain this cosmological knowledge), but it is a “speculative leap.” A leap made from systematic analysis and research on changing trends in contemporary settings.

In this thinking, science fiction plays a relevant role. Since they are stimulating narratives of creativity that contribute directly as inspiration for the conception not only of technologies, design, and artifacts but also for possible futures. Lidia developed larger studies precisely in the relationship between Sci-fi and Sci-facts.

“The bottom line is: how science fiction can be that inspiring backdrop to technological innovation. Example: If you go to work at Oculus you get a copy of the book ‘Ready Player One’ that was the inspiration of the founder of the company to create the technology of virtual reality that they have today. He says, ‘We want to achieve what we’ve seen in science fiction.’ “

To the left, Spielberg’s adaptation of the bestseller “Ready Player One;” To the right, the materialization of the fictitious tech done by Oculus.

Lidia, having had contact with this theory, realized that she had already been developing these ideas in her academic production and then she began to think of ways of being able to act in the market from this place of someone who, until then, only had a dialogue in the academic environment. In addition, she had difficulties of starting to work in a relatively new field, being young and female, which caused some reactions of discredit.

She found her calling in the area of design fiction, developing a unique methodology in which she seeks to unite design thinking with science fiction.

“The fiction serving to visualize these scenarios, to visualize this universe, to expand our mind and to think in what we can transform that future. We just have to choose the future that we want. “

Lidia warns us that the use of design fiction by companies in Bazil is also something new, especially when one thinks in terms of deliveries and products. Strangeness caused by project contact developed by futurists is part of the work, since developing a future scenario involves a certain impact on what is new and unknown.

The highlight here is that, since science fiction is part of the collective memory of most of the people who are part of this corporate structure, dialogue can be initiated in this way, in a more free and empathic way. Even because, because of their experience, it is precisely the change of mentality that most companies desire, that they stop thinking about “boxes” so that they expand into a future mindset. A process, thus, opens to experimentation both in methodology and in metrics of success. The proposal is to open and propose changes, even new ways of doing business.

The challenge is how to find a middle ground, together with allies and also interested in the transformations, in which it is possible to dialogue with the opportunities of the present and in a traditional way of thinking and doing business, without giving up the purpose to accelerate and inspire changes in these models.

In this sense, we realize how much these learnings are not necessarily based on deliveries or end products, but rather focused on creating safe spaces of exchange and learning, so that from these processes people arrive at the desired results in free brainstorm.

“How does fiction work so we can imagine these scenarios? As writer Arthur C. Clarke says, it helps us create universes, open our minds, and think about future scenarios. This is very important in a time of great change.“

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Magic’s just science that we don’t understand yet. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.” — Arthur C. Clarke

Participants (from left to right, from top to bottom): Lidia Zuin, Gustavo Nogueira, Sarah Brito, Victor Hugo Barreto, and Morena Mariah.

See more Sandglass learnings here:

We are the TORUS, a global movement based in São Paulo and Amsterdam, which promotes changes in organizational cultures, as well as a cultural awakening in society.

We develop experimental and proprietary methodologies based on translating and sharing relevant knowledge about the transformations necessary for our time.

Together with a network of partners and experts around the world, we invest in original studies and the development of a safe space for learning and exchange, as social infrastructures necessary to the world today.


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