USA Today reports:
Looking to prevent the next terrorist attack, the Homeland Security Department is tapping into the wild imaginations of a group of self-described "deviant" thinkers: science-fiction writers….
The writers make up a group called Sigma, which Andrews put together 15 years ago to advise government officials….Now, the Homeland Security Department is calling on the group to help with the government's latest top mission of combating terrorism.
Although some sci-fi writers' futuristic ideas might sound crazy now, scientists know that they often have what seems to be an uncanny ability to see into the future.
"Fifty years ago, science-fiction writers told us about flying cars and a wireless handheld communicator," says Christopher Kelly, spokesman for Homeland Security's Science and Technology division. "Although flying cars haven't evolved, cellphones today are a way of life…."
Not exactly a stellar predictive record. It's a truism that science fiction says more about the present than the future; for just one piece of evidence, check out Joey deVilla's entertaining comparison between the "cyberwar" described in Neuromancer and the actual cyberwar transpiring in Estonia. Or check out any entry on the Paleo-Future blog, a wonderful website devoted to archaic forecasts. Greg Bear, Larry Niven, and the other Sigma members are smart folks, and they may well have some intelligent suggestions to make, but I sure hope Homeland Security won't try to work out the next Al Qaeda plot by reading their novels.
On the other hand, the department might want to hire the people who wrote The Lone Gunmen.