Thinktank seeks hopeful fictions

The folk at the Future of Life Institute (FLI), a US-based volunteer-run thinktank concerned with analysing the dangers and opportunities artificial intelligence may pose in the coming years, think there is too much gloom about.

In particular, they are of the firm opinion that the current mood of pessimism and gothic dread that suffuses the genre of science fiction is all a bit much, really.

As a consequence, the institute – which was formed in 2014 by intellectuals including renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology cosmologist Max Tegmark – has launched a competition to find the world’s best utopian short fiction.

The competition calls for short stories between 1500 and 3000 words about how one of your descendants manages to live in harmony. With nature and overcome challenges.

Given the technological focus of the institute, however, possible definitions of “descendant” are broad indeed.

“Is your ‘descendant’ still biological?” the competition website asks.  

“Is your ‘descendant’ a grandchild or a clone? Have we merged with technology or uploaded DNA to create new cyber-beings? Is your ‘descendant’ something completely different?”

The story should be consonant with the institute’s mission, which it summarises as: “Technology is giving life the potential to flourish like never before, or to self-destruct. Let’s make a difference.”

Entries must be in by June 9, and all authors must be 18 years of age or older. First prize is $1000. More details here.

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