a look at science and technology

David Brin is best-known for shining light — plausibly and entertainingly — on technology, society, and countless challenges confronting our rambunctious civilization. His best-selling novels include The Postman (filmed in 1997) plus explorations of our near-future in Earth and Existence. Other novels are translated into 25+ languages. His short stories explore vividly speculative ideas.

Brin's nonfiction book The Transparent Society won the American Library Association's Freedom of Speech Award for exploring 21st Century concerns about security, secrecy, accountability and privacy.

As a scientist, tech-consultant and world-known author, he speaks, advises, and writes widely on topics from national defense and homeland security to astronomy and space exploration, SETI and nanotechnology, future/prediction, creativity, and philanthropy. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was cited as one of the top 10 writers the AI elite follow.


Here are net-accessible articles, interviews, and essays about how we can best use science & technology to achieve our most difficult goals.

other pages on this site

where Brin explores, discovers & invents

  • continuing our space & seti explorations
  • solving our privacy & openness, security & transparency crises
  • facing our 21st century challenges & opportunities
  • creating our near & far futures
  • finding the money & will to achieve it all
  • discussing scientific advances

    spark ideas, discoveries, discussions & conversations

  • blog: Contrary Brin
  • appearances: public speaker and consulting authority
  • scoop.it!: Science and Space: Exploring new frontiers
  • contributor: Closer to Truth
  • other great resources

    Brin recommends these books, articles & websites

  • Starship Century: Toward the Grandest HorizonStarship Century
  • Millennium: From Religion to RevolutionMillennium, by Ian Mortimer
  • Unscientific AmericaUnscientific America, by Chris Mooney
  • Science 2.0

  • science to design a more optimistic society

    using the tools of science and research to form options to constant warfare and the rule of kings

    a chorus of change

    disputation arenas

    can we crowdsource wisdom?

    Media advances don't always liberate, at first. The tracts that emerged from printing presses enflamed Europe's 16th Century religious hatreds, while the 1930s-era radio and loudspeakers helped consolidate the power of tyrants. Our new media — the Internet — has inspired its own peril: the rise of fake news and too-easy proliferation of alt-facts. Can ordinary citizens separate truth from manipulation before the harm spreads? Brin's proposal, as outlined in "Disputation Arenas: Harnessing Conflict and Competitiveness for Society's Benefit," could teach us how to out-run a lie.

    addiction to self-righteousness

    our most dangerous addiction

    is there a cure for self-righteousness?

    Could a single scientific breakthrough help get us past today's rising mass frenzy of self-righteousness that has poisoned politics in the United States and some other countries? Brin has long corresponded with experts, trying to find out. The resulting essay, "An Open Letter to Researchers In the Fields of Addiction, Brain Chemistry, and Social Psychology," led to papers in psychiatric journals and a speech at the National Institutes for Drugs and Addiction.

    industrial age inventor

    crowdsourcing "citizen-science"

    new products and ideas from today's Edisons

    Entrepreneur? Tinkerer? Whatever your level of involvement, you can have the satisfaction of sponsoring humanity's greatest endeavors. In an era when political factions and media empires are waging relentless "war on science" this trend toward active participation — or providing some financial support for ideas and inventions you love — is the surest way to help support an active, vigorous, future-hungry and scientific civilization. In Existence, he portrays this trend as it can become, as individuals and small groups become ever more agile at sleuthing, data collection and analysis & forming very very smart, ad-hoc, problem-solving 'smart mobs.'


    articles about science and technology

    What new tools are the world's greatest toolmakers devising?

    climate science meets the inquisition

    denial is not an option

    creating a climate of change

    Every election opens a new front in the seemingly-neverending Global Climate Change culture war. Trained as a scientist, and knowing many who research the atmospheres of 8 planets or who propelled spectacular advances in weather forecasting, Brin tends toward listening to expert advice on this one — especially since we're only being asked to do things we should be doing anyway. In 2007 he posted an essay dealing with some logical flaws in the denial-movement, going after those who claim: "I'm not denying science, just asking questions!" Then because he knows some real skeptics (and is one himself!) he posted a follow-up essay, "Distinguishing Climate 'Deniers' From 'Skeptics'."

    cartoon copyright Joel Pett

    climate change (past & future tense)

    our millennial war

    Every few years Brin weighs into a battlefront in culture war: Global Climate Change. Trained as a scientist, and knowing many who research the atmospheres of 8 planets, or who propelled spectacular advances in weather forecasting, he listens to expert advice on this one — especially since we're only being asked to do things we should be doing anyway. (Ironically, Brin coined the term "age of amateurs" and pushed citizen power! Still, expert knowledge matters.)

    climate change of mind

    is it culture war or climate war?

    originally published in SKEPTIC Magazine

    Nothing demonstrates the silliness of left-right "culture war" more than the illogical fight over human-caused climate change (HCC). People who take fierce positions over a scientific matter based on their politics should be ashamed of themselves. In fact, there are legitimate questions that a genuine HCC-sceptic can ask! "Climate Skeptics vs. Climate Deniers" shows you how to tell a true "skeptic" from an opportunistic "denialist."

    neoteny studies

    species studies

    why are we so enigmatic?

    Brin's article, "Neoteny and Two-Way Sexual Selection in Human Evolution," (J. Social and Evolutionary Systems 18(3) 1996), speculates why we turned out so strange compared to other species. Other scientific papers that appeared in peer-reviewed scientific journals, on topics ranging from astrophysics to anthropology to psychology, philanthropy and dispute resolution, can be found on David Brin's bio page.

    Heart of the Comet cover detail

    comets & astrophysics

    read David Brin's dissertation

    Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in David Brin's PhD research (UCSD 1981) — a spinning icy mass insulated by carbonaceous dust, with sun-heated, geyser-jets spewing particles into space. That work inspired Brin's novel with Gregory Benford, Heart of the Comet, just before the 1986 Giotto mission confirmed the model. See the Astrophysical Journal paper "Three Models of Dust Layers on Cometary Nuclei" or an abstract of the dissertation: "Evolution of Cometary Nuclei as Influenced by a Dust Component."

    don't panic!

    is 1984 a cautionary tale?

    the self-preventing prophecy

    George Orwell’s 1984 is often cited as a warning against science and technology... a terrible misinterpretation. While Oceania’s tyrants gladly use certain technological tools to reinforce their grip on power, their order stifles every human ingredient needed for science and free enquiry, creating a society that eats its seed corn and beats plowshares into useless statues.

    solar

    ocean fertilization & other palliative measures

    science as a hammer

    After a lifetime studying societies spanning 6000 years and five continents, Arnold Toynbee wrote that the one common thread determining success or failure appeared to be whether both leaders and the people chose stodgy obstinacy or agile flexibility whenever challenges loomed. And especially whether they gave support, invested resources, and enthusiastically backed-up their creative minorities. And hence, this time we'll peruse a potpourri of science marvels showing that agility and scientific creativity have not become endangered species.

    denialism in deed

    ocean fertilization redux

    the politics of science

    If at first you don't succeed — give up? Well, not necessarily. Despite the bludgeon-like initial attempts at ocean fertilization, that have created crude plankton blooms by dumping iron powder into currents, dire problems still threaten. Care must be taken to make sure that (as when arid land is irrigated) the new zones of fecundity are "well-drained" (like the Grand Banks and Chile), while tackling the challenges of the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, where "fecundity" can translate into a poisoned morass of algae and jellyfish.

    key to fair play

    other intelligent designs?

    alternatives that merit "equal time"

    Intelligent Design (ID) demands to be recognized as a direct and "scientific" competitor with the Theory of Evolution. By basing their claim on the virtues of fair play and completeness, ID promoters employ a clever short-term tactic, but have incurred a long-term strategic liability: They assume that ID is the only alternative to Darwinian evolution. It's not. Brin's SKEPTIC magazine essay, "The Other Intelligent Design Theories," describes the numerous "other alternatives" to Darwinian evolution that creationists don’t want you to know about, such as: Guided Evolution, Intelligent Design of Intelligent Deisgners, Evolution of Intelligent Designers, Cycles of Creation, and Panspermia.

    The Republican War on Science original cover detail

    who's winning the war on science?

    will our Scientific Age come to a whimpering end?

    The one trait shared by anti-modernists of both left and right appears to be a disdain for our ability to learn and do bold new things. In reviewing Chris Mooney's The Republican War on Science, Brin explores how politically-based interpretations explain much of this collapse of confidence. Alas, politics — despite centuries of hard refinement — is still far more ego-driven art than craft.

    NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans

    are space launchers possible?

    science meets science fiction

    The notion of gun-propelled launch goes back to Jules Verne. Such Mass Drivers have been envisioned in numerous Sci Fi tales, including Earthlight, by Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Heart of the Comet by Benford & Brin. We've also seen them portrayed in Buck Rogers, Babylon 5 and Halo. Now, two researchers propose that a space-capable mass driver may be feasible.

    the fulcrum effect

    seeking a new fulcrum

    a parapsychology of the future

    Brin's scientific appraisal of the subject of parapsychology, is reprinted here. Originally written for the Public Television show Closer to Truth, "Seeking a New Fulcrum: Parapsychology and the Need to Believe in a New Transcendence" offers some perspectives you may not have seen. Perhaps parapsychology is something other than its enthusiasts imagine — not a trail leading back to ancient wisdom, but a predictor of humanity's future course.

    the obligatory cute cat photo

    from brain imaging to parasitic infections

    exploring the science of the body

    How reading makes you smart: The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. "Reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on the minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.”

    Also: How your cat makes you crazy.


    DAVID BRIN's interviews and discussions

    What are we discovering about ourselves and our world?

    can we imagine our solutions?

    This interview, from Living Planet Magazine, on the role of science fiction in exploring environmental issues and solutions.

    can we imagine our way our of delusions?

    This podcast/video interview, on mendelspod.com, discusses the role science performs in guiding us away from our "great delusions."

    scorching answers to burning questions

    Arizona State University's Center for Science and Imagination, recorded Brin's answers to "five burning questions" about the future, resilience and imagination.

    predictions or possibilities?

    An interview with OMNI Reboot asks about topics ranging from AI and apocalypse to the value and basis and future of science fiction.

    mind stretched or mind blown?

    During LosCon 39, Adam Ford recorded an interview with Brin for his "Utopia in Exile" program. Discussion ranged from science and the future to favorite mind-stretching exercises.

    making science fact

    This Discover on NPR podcast interviewed Brin, author William Gibson, and Professor AnneSimon about the science of Science Fiction.

    if the boss is AI

    A cool, fun interview: Brin answers questions about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and why it is possible that these new, genius offspring of humanity may decide not to treat us badly.


    a brief intro to science fiction author DAVID BRIN

    To learn more, visit his books page, or see his "about me" page or detailed biography.

    DAVID BRIN author

    novels

    David Brin's science fiction novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. They range from bold and prophetic explorations of our near-future to Brin's Uplift series, envisioning galactic issues of sapience and destiny (and star-faring dolphins!). Learn More


    shorter fiction

    Short stories and novellas have different rhythms and artistic flavor, and Brin's short stories and novellas, several of which earned Hugo and other awards, exploit that difference to explore a wider range of real and vividly speculative ideas. Many have been selected for anthologies and reprints, and most have been published in anthology form. Learn More


    Contrary Brin blog

    Since 2004, David Brin has maintained a blog about science, technology, science fiction, books, and the future — themes his science fiction and nonfiction writings continue to explore. Learn More


    social media influencer

    Who could've predicted that social media — indeed, all of our online society — would play such an important role in the 21st Century — restoring the voices of advisors and influencers! Lively and intelligent comments spill over onto Brin's social media pages. Learn More

    DAVID BRIN scientist

    scientist

    David Brin's Ph.D in Physics from the University of California at San Diego (the lab of nobelist Hannes Alfven) followed a masters in optics and an undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Caltech. Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in Brin's PhD research. Learn More


    transparency expert

    Brin's non-fiction book, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy?, continues to receive acclaim for its accuracy in predicting 21st Century concerns about online security, secrecy, accountability and privacy. Learn More


    speaker & consultant

    Brin speaks plausibly and entertainingly about trends in technology and society to audiences willing to confront the challenges that our rambunctious civilization will face in the decades ahead. He also talks about the field of science fiction, especially in relation to his own novels and stories. To date he has presented at more than 200 meetings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings.Learn More


    future/tech advisor

    Brin advises corporations and governmental and private defense- and security-related agencies about information-age issues, scientific trends, future social and political trends, and education. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was cited as one of the top 10 writers the AI elite follow. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others. Learn More


    other points of departure

    visit other pages on this website

    pages about DAVID BRIN

  • latest news and activities
  • information about DAVID BRIN
  • public speaking and consulting & popular topics
  • speaking/consulting references and testimonials & a list of past appearances
  • lists of interviews and podcasts
  • video interviews and talks
  • Brin's presskit and complete biography
  • traditional media and social media
  • Brin quotes
  • pages about science fiction

  • Brin's novels and books
  • Brin's short stories and novellas
  • all about Brin's uplift universe
  • a selection of book reviews
  • Brin's advice for new writers
  • Brin reviews sci fi films — including The Postman
  • a compilation of great sf books to read
  • recommended sf films
  • science fiction that teaches
  • nonfiction explorations

  • The Transparent Society
  • privacy, security, accountability and transparency
  • designing and crafting our amazing 21st Century
  • predicting and projecting our near and far future
  • leading and following our politics and economy
  • keeping track of changes in science and technology
  • scanning our sky for habitable (inhabited?) worlds
  • an ornery, contrary blog, and other insightful rants!

    Do not enter if you want a standard "Party" line! Contrary Brin's community pokes at too-rigid orthodoxies, proposing ideas and topics that fascinate and infuriate.

    wormholes

    A few spacetime anomalies and side-trips, for your entertainment.

    Questions? Concerns? Email Me

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    curated topics at Scoop.it!

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    references and recommendations

    See more references and recommendations for Brin's public speaking and consulting and his novels and books.

    Stanford University

    "Your provocative future scenarios, your explanation of developmental trends in technology and your balanced, nuanced delivery got folks energized like no speaker we've had before. I think the truest mark of a great speaker is their popularity in the hallways afterward, and on that score you again exceeded all expectations. It was great to see how many groups self-organized to discuss the issues you raised for the remainder of the weekend."

    Vernor Vinge

    "More than any writer I know, David Brin can take scary, important problems and turn them sideways, revealing wonderful opportunities. This talent shows strongly in Kiln People, a novel which is deep and insightful and often hilarious, all at the same time."

    praise for Earth

    "Brin is a physicist of note who has been a NASA consultant, and he knows how to turn the abstractions of particle physics into high adventure.... He excels at the essential craft of the page-turner, which is to devise an elegantly knotted plot that yields a richly variegated succession of high-impact adventures undergone by an array of believably heroic characters."
    — Thomas M. Disch, EW.com

    Qualcomm Innovation Network

    "Terrific feedback from everybody involved, David. Our people found it stimulating to converse with someone who has perspicaciously synthesized so many surprising patterns in human behavior and technology (enthusiastically) and who offers positive, pragmatic suggestions for our company evolution. One team member left 'with all kinds of ideas and motivation for being creative and innovative, both at work and outside.'"

    final thoughts ...

    ... for this page, at least ...

    a quote from EXISTENCE

    For all its beauty, honesty, and effectiveness at improving the human condition, science demands a terrible price — that we accept what experiments tell us about the universe, whether we like it or not. It's about consensus and teamwork and respectful critical argument, working with, and through, natural law. It requires that we utter, frequently, those hateful words — "I might be wrong."

    On the other hand, magic is what happens when we convince ourselves something is, even when it isn't. Subjective Truth, winning over mere objective fact. The will, triumphing over all else. No wonder, even after the cornucopia of wealth and knowledge engendered by science, magic remains more popular, more embedded in the human heart.