The Sci-Fi Feedback Loop: Mapping Fiction’s Influence on Real-World Tech

Event Details

There’s little question that the imaginary futures of science fiction have influenced the development of real-world technologies, from space travel to cyberspace. Join Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination for a virtual conversation among sci-fi authors, scholars, and technologists, examining this feedback loop between science fiction and technical innovation. We’ll dive into the history of sci-fi’s influence, and consider its impact on the direction of technology development today.

This is the first in a series of online events for the Applied Sci-Fi Project, which seeks to understand the influence of science fiction on technology and the people who build it, and to study the specific ways that sci-fi storytelling can be applied as a tool for innovation and foresight. The project is possible thanks to generous support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

This virtual event is free and open to everyone. Learn more and register today!


Michael G. Bennett, @MGBennett 
Director, Student Experiential Immersion Programs, Discovery Partners Institute, University of Illinois
Michael G. Bennett serves as Director of Student Experiential Learning Programs for the Discovery Partners Institute at the University of Illinois, where he is responsible for overseeing the institute’s growing portfolio of academic and informal learning programs, and leading a team that implements and manages them. He has extensive experience in curriculum development, with a particular emphasis on anticipatory governance, future scenarios, Afrofuturism, and science and technology policy.

Tim Chang, @timechange
Venture capitalist, partner at Mayfield Fund
Tim co-leads Mayfield’s Consumer investment practice and is an experienced investor and global executive. He has been twice named to the Forbes Midas list of Top Tech Investors and received the Gamification Summit award for Special Achievement. Tim’s venture capital experience includes leading investments at Norwest Venture Partners and Gabriel Venture Partners. His operational experience includes working in product management and engineering across Asia for Gateway, Inc., and General Motors. Tim holds an MBA with honors from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and an MS and BS in Electrical Engineering/System Engineering from the University of Michigan. Tim is an accomplished musician, a reformed biohacker, and passionate about Body/Mind/Spirit wellness. He serves on the non-profit boards of Reimagine Death and Gray Area Arts.

Cory Doctorow, @doctorow
Science fiction novelist, journalist, and special advisor to the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Cory Doctorow ( is a science fiction author, activist and journalist. He is the author of many books, most recently Radicalized and Walkaway, science fiction for adults; How To Destroy Surveillance Capitalism, nonfiction about monopoly and conspiracy; In Real Life, a graphic novel; and the picture book Poesy the Monster Slayer. His latest book is Attack Surface, a standalone adult sequel to Little Brother; his next nonfiction book is Chokepoint Capitalism, with Rebecca Giblin, about monopoly and fairness in the creative arts labor market (Beacon Press, 2022). In 2020, he was inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

Malka Older, @m_older
Author, The Centenal Cycle; Sociologist and humanitarian aid worker; Faculty associate, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University
Malka Older is a writer, aid worker, and sociologist. Her science-fiction political thriller Infomocracy was named one of the best books of 2016 by Kirkus, Book Riot, and the Washington Post. The Centenal Cycle trilogy, which also includes Null States (2017) and State Tectonics (2018), was a finalist for the Hugo Best Series Award of 2018. She is also the creator of the serial Ninth Step Station and author of the short story collection …and Other Disasters (2019). Named Senior Fellow for Technology and Risk at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs for 2015, she has more than a decade of field experience in humanitarian aid and development. Her doctoral work on the sociology of organizations at Sciences Po Paris explores the dynamics of post-disaster improvisation in governments. Malka is also a faculty associate at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

Sherryl Vint
Science fiction scholar and editor; Director, Speculative Fiction and Cultures of Science Program, University of California, Riverside
Sherryl Vint is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies and Chair of the Department of English at the University of California, Riverside, where she directs the Speculative Fictions and Cultures of Science program. She was a founding editor of Science Fiction Film and Television and is an editor for the journal Science Fiction Studies and the book series Science in Popular Culture. She has published widely on science fiction, including, most recently, Biopolitical Futures in Twenty-First Century Speculative Fiction (2021) and Programming the Future: Speculative Television and the End of Democracy (2022, co-authored with Jonathan Alexander).


Kevin Bankston, @KevinBankston
Fellow, Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University
Kevin Bankston is a Fellow at ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination, where he researches the relationship between science fiction and real-world innovation. Kevin is also an accomplished executive leader in the arena of technology law and policy, having spent nearly 20 years working in the public interest sector as an attorney and advocate at organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Center for Democracy & Technology, most recently serving as the Director of the Open Technology Institute at New America. He is now a Director of Privacy Policy at Meta Platforms, Inc., where he leads Meta’s AI Policy Team in developing policies and processes for ensuring responsible AI development.