A Science Fiction Anthology Published by Intel

Why would chipmaker Intel want to commission science fiction authors to write stories? So that the technology-focused company can start thinking more in terms of user applications. The Tomorrow Project, a new anthology that Intel published online a few months back, aims to help Intel's engineers imagine how people will actually want to use technology in the future, so they can design better products.

It's a product of Intel's social science division, which BusinessWeek says

assesses technological trends by sending anthropologists and sociologists to hang out in living rooms, senior care centers, and hospitals. The logic behind the effort: Understand how technology is used and you're more likely to design chips people will buy.

Part of the division is Brian David Johnson, Intel's resident futurist, who spearheaded The Tomorrow Project. The video at left shows Johnson talking about the project and how it fits in to Intel's mission.

The contributors to the book include Douglas Rushkoff, along with Ray Hammond, Scarlett Thomas and Markus Heitz. (A second volume comes out in October.) The whole thing is available for download as a free PDF and a podcast. Here's how Rushkoff's story, "Last Day of Work" begins:

I'm finally doing it. Clocking out for the last time.

It's been twenty years since they began offering the package, close to a decade since the company's been down to just the skeletal observation crew, and over a year since it's been just me. Well, Curtis and me, but he wasn't every fully here, anyway, so when he left the office it was more like watching someone log off one network to join another.

And I'm looking forward to it, I really am. I just thought being the last one here would be a more notable achievement. At least more noted. An accomplishment as fame-worthy as something my father could have done. So while it is a significant human milestone, I'm sure of it, I just so happen to be doing it when nobody is around to care. I am the headline of every newspaper, the front page of every web site, and the message in everybody's inbox: Dr. Spiegel Turns Off the Lights.

Read the whole thing at the link. [The Tomorrow Project via Business Week]