March 4, 2017 · Art Technology Forecasting

Warren Ellis at Google

I'm a huge fan of Warren Ellis, his no-nonsense views on technology, and the way he weaves it all into his work. He is able to sweep away the hype while clearly and creatively envisioning potential outcomes (and, of course, having some dark fun with it). As someone who spends a ton of time thinking about the same subjects, I can't wait to get my hands on his latest: Normal

There are two types of people who think professionally about the future: Foresight strategists are civil futurists who think about geoengineering and smart cities and ways to evade Our Coming Doom; strategic forecasters are spook futurists, who think about geopolitical upheaval and drone warfare and ways to prepare clients for Our Coming Doom. The former are paid by nonprofits and charities, the latter by global security groups and corporate think tanks.

For both types, if you're good at it, and you spend your days and nights doing it, then it's something you can't do for long. Depression sets in. Mental illness festers. And if the abyss gaze takes hold there's only one place to recover: Normal Head, in the wilds of Oregon, within the secure perimeter of an experimental forest.

I was sold on the dark humor evident in the premise alone. Ellis understands us because he is, in perhaps more ways than he would like, one of us. Thinking about the future can be a dark and dirty business but it is a necessary one. Ellis and a few select others are evidence that turning the outcome of that effort into art, instead of a dry stack of slide decks or white papers, can be just as serious and impactful (or even more so) in capable hands.

Warren is going to join me on Covert Contact to talk about all of this at some point. There will be a separate interview up on this space even sooner. Stay tuned.

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