How do stories create our future?

When we talk about technology, we’re really talking about ourselves. Emerging tech has become a container for our anxieties about future ways of living.

What stories do we tell ourselves about tech, and how do these narratives shape our futures?

7th November, 6.30pm Framework, 35 King st, Bristol BS1 4DZ


The next Invented Futures takes place during Bristol Technology Festival 2019. 

Coral Manton

Coral Manton is a creative technologist, researcher and game developer. She is Lecturer in Creative Computing at Bath Spa University.  With her collaborator Birgitte Aga, she creates work that critiques the commercial pursuit of humanising AI technologies and challenges the bias, stereotyping and pervasive influence embedded within. Their work manifests as collaborative workshops, events and installations aimed at (re)claiming conversational AI systems as a medium for protest. Their latest work Women Reclaiming AI is presented as a feminist AI voice assistant, programmed through participatory workshops by a growing community of women. 

Julia Scott-Stevenson

Julia is a research fellow in interactive factual media with the Digital Cultures Research Centre at UWE. She works with researchers and industry to explore the potential of interactive and immersive factual media, and produces the biennial i-Docs Symposium. 

She is also an Immersion Fellow at South West Creative Technology Network. She is working on the question of how might immersive media technologies offer a way of imagining a preferred future, and so help us identify a path to get there.

Pete Bennett

Pete is a Lecturer at Bristol Interaction Lab and University of Bristol’s Computer Science department currently co-running the HCI and Interactive Devices modules. 

A creative technologist, he is also a resident of the Pervasive Media Studio. Some of his research includes creating physical games for gorillas, designing interactive beer bottles, and collaborating with composers and chemists to sonify the sound of molecular interaction with a string quartet.

Cheryl Morgan

Cheryl Morgan is a critic, editor, publisher and a four-time winner of the Hugo Award. Cheryl is regularly invited to give talks on science fiction.

In the past year she has given a keynote speech at an academic conference in Graz, Austria; has been a Guest of Honour at the Finnish National Science Fiction Convention; and has delivered a talk on the Prehistory of Robotics at the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin.

Cheryl is a Director of The Diversity Trust, where she runs trans awareness courses.

Stories we tell about tech

Emerging tech has been shaped by hundreds of years of stories; technology is deeply enmeshed in the culture that surrounds it.

From Hephaestus, the first roboticist in Greek mythology to invent autonomous ‘servants’, through to Karel Čapek’s Roboti, HAL 9000, Knight Rider’s KITT, and Dick Tracy’s video wristwatch, distinguishing between technologies and our fantasies about them has never been easy.

How narratives are told

Storytelling shapes tech narratives; most films depict AI as having bodies because it’s a visual medium. 

Storytelling conventions are often created through the fears and desires of the cultures that produce them. How can new forms of storytelling impact how we understand our future?

Invented futures

While a small number of people are creating the tech that becomes the blueprint for what our future might look like, it’s necessary to keep in mind the limitless number of possible futures that can be created.

But which voices get to create these new narratives?

Get involved

By stories, we mean popular culture, Sci-Fi, film, media narratives, policy discourse, depictions of AI, robot myths, the role of memory mechanism in anticipating future events, and – finally! – the ways in which we tell stories themselves: from AR to VR, theatre and poetry, the infinite showreel of Netflix, to speculative design in innovation.

Engineers, artists, writers, emerging storytellers, Science and Speculative Fiction fans, filmmakers, designers, and all folks with an interest in invented futures – get in touch!

Invented Futures kicks off during the very first Bristol Technology Festival.

Join us from 6.30pm on 7th November 2019 at Framework, Bristol. Along with wrangling all possible futures into one evening, there will be drinks. 

35 King Street, BS1 4DZ

Interested in joining in the conversation? Take a look at our Invented Futures reading and watching list:

What AI Researchers Read: The Role of Literature in Artificial Intelligence Research

The Robots of Brixton (2011)

Medieval Robots: Mechanism, Magic, Nature, and Art

Women Invent the Future Anthology, doteveryone, edited by Rachel Coldicutt

Robot Visions, Isaac Asimov