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Innovation, Between Science and Science Fiction

ISBN: 978-1-119-42755-1
196 pages
June 2017, Wiley-ISTE
Innovation, Between Science and Science Fiction (111942755X) cover image


Fantasy and science fiction are both involved in the process of innovation in techno-scientific societies. Long regarded as a hindrance to rationality, and to science, science fiction has become the object of praise in recent decades.  Innovative organizations use science fiction to stimulate the creativity of their teams, and more and more entrepreneurs are using its influence to develop innovation. Scientific practice relies in part on an imaginary dimension. The mapping of the technical imagination of science fiction has become an important strategic issue, as has its patentability.  The conquest of space, the construction of cyberspace and virtual reality, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies are all at the center of futuristic fictions that participate in scientific speeches and discoveries.

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Table of Contents


Foreword ix

Introduction xvii

Chapter 1. The Growth of the Imagination in Industrial Societies 1

1.1. A short history of science fiction  1

1.1.1. From Frankenstein to The Island of Doctor Moreau 1

1.1.2. Jules Verne, the founding father of science fiction 3

1.1.3. Albert Robida, a visionary in the shadow of Jules Verne  6

1.1.4. Hugo Gernsback, from fictional invention to innovation  8

1.1.5. Hard science fiction 10

1.1.6. The cyberpunk movement  12

1.1.7. The biopunk movement  16

1.1.8. A map of utopic technologies  18

1.2. The imagination, a cognitive barrier useful for innovation 20

1.3. The organizations’ use of science fiction  21

1.3.1. Design fiction and the popularization of technological imagination  21

1.3.2. Science fiction prototyping, a method to innovate 24

1.3.3. Science fiction and the identity of engineering students  27

1.3.4. The filter-philter theory  28

1.3.5. Institutional science fiction  29

1.3.6. Future Visions: Microsoft’s science fiction  33

1.3.7. China’s interest in science fiction and innovation  44

1.3.8. Forecasting and institutional science fiction  47

1.4. The psychology of organizations and science fiction 51

1.4.1. Normal, subversive or pathological imagination  51

1.4.2. Stimulating creativity with the imagination 54

1.4.3. Psychiatry and science fiction 56

1.4.4. Freudo-Lacanianism and science fiction 57

1.5. Should we organize a patenting system for utopic technologies?  59

Chapter 2. Technological Ideologies and Utopias 67

2.1. The space industry and technological utopias 68

2.1.1. Imagining the human colonization of Mars 68

2.1.2. Terraforming Mars, a great project that remains fiction 77

2.1.3. The colonization of the universe, the future of humankind? 79

2.1.4. Space imagination in Lucien Boia and the ESA’s ITSF report  81

2.2. Transhumanism and science fiction 84

2.3. Science fiction and nanotechnologies  90

2.4. Accelerationism for a critical use of science fiction 95

2.5. From technological fiction to innovation  96

2.6. Imagining futures, at risk of the Cassandra syndrome 104

Chapter 3. Science, the Imagination and Innovation 109

3.1. The serious global dangers tackled by science fiction  109

3.2. The great steps in the history of technologies since the end of the 19th Century  116

3.3. Economic cycles and science fiction 121

3.4. Theories on innovation and theories on the imagination 124

3.4.1. Performative imagination and the creation of cyberspace 133

3.4.2. From science fiction to techno-scientific innovations: virtual reality headsets 134

3.4.3. The imagination before, together with and after science  135

3.4.4. The hypothesis of a basic imagination at the root of science 136

3.4.5. From the prophetic unconscious to the technological imagination  137

3.4.6. Historical dynamics and technological utopianism  138

Conclusion 141

Bibliography 149

Index  169

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