The Proposition (Ch. 19) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 019

Hey everyone, welcome back to Bionic Bug podcast! You’re listening to episode 19. This is your host Natasha Bajema, fiction author, futurist, and national security expert. I’m recording this episode on September 8, 2018.

First off, thank you so much for your patience while I was on vacation for the past week and a half. As a gesture of my gratitude, I’m releasing two episodes this weekend. Yes, TWO episodes.

I took my dogs on a road trip. We spent two nights in a cabin at a state park in Western Maryland where there is no Internet and zero cell coverage. In case of an emergency, there’s an actual phone booth on the park grounds for coin-operated calls. #blastfromthepast. We enjoyed the quiet, did some hiking, played in streams, and looked for bears. I also finished the edits on my second novel, Project Gecko.

From there, I went on to Michigan where I’m originally from to visit friends and family. I had a great time moving my friend’s kid into the dorms of my alma mater, Calvin College.

On the fiction front, I’ve decided to release Bionic Bug, the first book in my series as a paperback on Amazon sometime in October. It’s already available as an ebook on https://www.kobo.com/ebook/bionic-bug. I’ll release Project Gecko as an ebook on Kobo in October as well.

If you’re enjoying the show, please leave a review on iTunes. You can also support my time and costs of producing in show for only a few dollars a month, please go to www.patreon.com/natashabajema.

Let’s talk tech:

  • My first headline for this week is an overlap between fiction and technology. “Why Science Fiction is the Most Important Genre” published in Wired today.
  • Yuval Noah Harari, author of the best-selling books Sapiens and Homo Dues believes that science fiction is the most important fiction genre because “it shapes the understanding of the public on things like artificial intelligence and biotechnology, which are likely to change our lives and society more than anything else in the coming decades.”
    • He thinks that too much of science fiction focuses on outlandish scenarios and authors should grapple with realistic issues to raise public awareness.
    • I read this article with great interest, in part, because this summer I underwent a personal revelation about my fiction. I’ve talked about attending the ThrillerFest in July and about pitching my mystery series to agents. My biggest takeaway from my pitches is that the agents viewed me as a science fiction author. It caught me off-guard. I thought Star Wars and Star Trek were science fiction. I began digging and bought a course on science fiction from the Great Course series. I’m halfway through and my mind is already blown. I didn’t realize that George Orwell, Ray Bradbury and Margaret Atwood are considered science fiction authors.
    • My mystery series takes place ten years in the future. I’ve called it speculative because I’m describing a world that currently does not yet exist. This summer, I realized that the driving force behind my series is about public awareness. We’re currently facing an unprecedented number of technological changes on the near-term horizon. Things are changing at exponential speed. It fascinates me, but also terrifies me. I’m writing the Lara Kingsley Series to help readers start thinking about the changes on the horizon and their societal implications.
    • The revelation that I am a science fiction writer has led me to lean further into what it means to write in this genre. It has also to the birth of a new idea, which I refer to as my super-secret project for now. I’m currently developing plans for a sci-fi dystopian trilogy. If you check out my show notes, you’ll see a collage image I created to capture my initial thinking.

  • My second headline for today is “Defense Department pledges billions toward artificial intelligence research” published in the Washington Post on September 7.
    • This is great news. You may have noticed that AI is in the news lately. Fears of China overtaking the U.S. on artificial intelligence is increasing. It is my view that we have entered a “Manhattan Project” moment, albeit in peacetime. Whoever gets there first will have a significant advantage.
    • The Department of Defense is finally getting some skin in the game. It plans to invest up to $2 billion above current funding levels over the next five years toward new programs advancing artificial intelligence.
    • The focus will be developing machines that can learn and adapt to changing environments.

We’ll now turn to Bionic Bug. Last week, Lara learned the identity of the mysterious scientist behind the bionic bugs. The chapter ended with an invitation to meet up at the Basilica of the National Shrine. Let’s find out what happens next.

The views expressed on this podcast are my own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government

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