The Department of Homeland Security has a crack team of highly trained…science fiction writers. They’re called SIGMA, and according to National Defense Magazine, they are a “fixture at Department of Homeland Security science and technology conferences.”
My first thought was – great! Who knew that DHS was so concerned about avoiding the perils of a techno-dystopia? In my fevered imaginings, the panel included China Mieville, Neal Stephenson, Ursula Le Guin, and perhaps even Octavia Butler from beyond the grave.
Hah. Beneath my crusty exterior, I am apparently a foolish idealist. Because the members of SIGMA don’t want to avoid a 1984-esque scenario – they aspire to it. Here’s Larry Niven on health care:
Niven said a good way to help hospitals stem financial losses is to spread rumors in Spanish within the Latino community that emergency rooms are killing patients in order to harvest their organs for transplants.
“The problem [of hospitals going broke] is hugely exaggerated by illegal aliens who aren’t going to pay for anything anyway,” Niven said.
Or how about Jerry Pournelle (who I’ve never heard of) on the joys of mob rule?
Pournelle said that once mobile phone technology and the devices tacked on them to take pictures and record video become more ubiquitous, then ordinary citizens will be empowered to take security into their own hands — a prediction some have said already has come to pass.
Fortunately, it seems like these Big-Brother-loving sycophants are their own worst enemy.
The 45-minute panel discussion quickly deteriorated as federal, local and state homeland security officials, and at least one congressional aid, attempted to ask questions, which were largely ignored.
Instead the writers used their time to pontificate on a variety of tangentially related topics, including their past roles advising the government, predictions in their stories that have come to pass, the demise of the paperback book market, and low-cost launch into space.
David Brin, keeping on the topic of empowering citizens with mobile phone technology, delivered a self-described “rant” on the lack of funds being spent to support citizen reservists to back up the military, homeland security officials and first responders in times of crisis.
“It is impossible for you to succeed without us!” he shouted at the assembled officials, while banging his fist on the table and at one point jumping off his chair to wave a mobile phone in their faces.
Via Boing Boing