Category: Announcements

  • HIEROGLYPH: Stories & Visions for a Better Future Comes out Today!


  • Exciting website changes happening on Friday!

    Exciting website changes happening on Friday!

    In preparation for our upcoming anthology, the Hieroglyph team has been working towards a new theme for the site. We have ambitious goals, and this weekend, we will launch the first phase of this process: a shiny new theme. On Friday night from 5 pm to midnight MST, the site will be unavailable for community posting…

  • The Drone Commons

    Lee Konstantinou has started a new thread about creating a decentralized, drone-based wireless internet commons that bypasses state and corporate control. Join the conversation about a shadow drone internet!

  • Tower Power

    Bruce Sterling has started a new thread asking about the tall tower as a potential power source. Could it harness piezoelectric, solar, magnetic, or atmospheric energy? Get in on the conversation about dark lightning!

  • Welcome to Hieroglyph

    Greetings and welcome to the new Hieroglyph website! We’ve spent a lot of time building a new platform for this project that we hope will be responsive, elegant and easy to use. The site has both public and private areas so contributors can work in small groups or share their thoughts with the public, as…

  • Benford & Cambias featured at Hard SF Weekend

    We are hosting a weekend-long hard sf micro-convention at our bookstore in Westport, NY including some discussions relevant to Project Hieroglyph. The program is below: Gregory Benford, James Cambias, Kathryn Cramer, David G. Hartwell, Elizabeth Malartre At the Dragon Press Bookstore, 10 Champlain Avenue, Westport NY 12993, 518-962-2346 (exit 31 off the northway, go…

  • Breakout Labs, self-perpetuating nonprofit fund for future tech

    We had the pleasure of announcing funding to some very cool projects last week in San Francisco; mostly biotech in this round ( ). Would love to see Hieroglyphers and friends propose new projects or otherwise get involved. The fund’s site is

  • CSI in Smithsonian Magazine

    Ed asked me to track some recent press. From the April issue of <a href="">Smithsonian Magazine</a>, and retweeted by Stephen Fry Neal Stephenson has seen the future–and he doesn't like it. Today's science fiction, he argues, is fixated on nihilism and apocalyptic scenarios–think recent films such as The Road and TV series like "The Walking Dead." Gone are the hopeful visions prevalent in the mid-20th century. That's a problem, says Stephenson, author of modern sci-fi classics such as Snow Crash. He fears that no one will be inspired to build the next great space vessel or find a way to completely end dependence on fossil fuels when our stories about the future promise a shattered world. So, in fall 2011, Stephenson launched the Hieroglyph project to rally writers to infuse science fiction with the kind of optimism that could inspire a new generation to, as he puts it, "get big stuff done." He got the idea at a futurist conference last year. After lamenting the slow pace of technological innovation, Stephenson was surprised when his audience leveled blame at sci-fi authors. "You're the ones who have been slacking off," said Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University and co-founder of the forward-looking think tank the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes. To be sure, 20th-century sci-fi prefigured many of today's technologies, from smart phones to MRI scanners, as you can see if you spend 30 seconds on YouTube reviewing such "Star Trek" gadgets as communicators and tricorders. Yet Stephenson argues that sci-fi's greatest contribution is showing how new technologies function in a web of social and economic systems—what authors call "worldbuilding." Denise Caruso, a science policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, agrees that "science fiction helps [scientists] think about how the work they're doing might eventually turn out." It can even help them think about morality. Worldbuilding, she says, helps people anticipate how innovations might be used for good or ill in daily life. Take Isaac Asimov's novels and short stories about robots coexisting with humans, most notably his 1950 anthology I, Robot. He wrestled with such weighty issues as whether artificial beings have legal rights and the unforeseen dilemmas that could result from programming robots with moral directives. Upon Asimov's death in 1992, the flagship journal of computer engineers credited him with demonstrating "the enormous potential of information technology" and highlighting the difficulties of maintaining "reliable control over semi-autonomous machines." The Hieroglyph project's first concrete achievement will be a sci-fi anthology from William Morrow in 2014, full of new stories about scientists tackling big projects, from building supertowers to colonizing the moon. "We have one rule: no hackers, no hyperspace and no holocaust," Stephenson says. He and his collaborators want to avoid pessimistic thinking and magical technologies like the "hyperspace" engines common in movies like Star Wars. And, he adds, they're "trying to get away from the hackerly mentality of playing around with existing systems, versus trying to create new things." Stephenson's greatest hope is that young engineers and scientists will absorb ideas from the stories and think, "If I start working on this right now, by the time I retire it might exist."

  • Solve for X

    Neal Stephenson and Michael Crow both spoke recently at Solve for X, a conference organized by Google’s X Lab ( Each of them addressed the Hieroglyph-Arizona State University partnership and the need for more "moon shot" thinking. Neal's talk about the Tower project and Getting Big Stuff Done is available here: You can see Michael's discussion of ASU as a "moon shot" factory and the proposed Center for Science and the Imagination here: