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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Not Exactly A New Approach

Conservatives simply don't get it. If you want to have a broad approach to something, you bring in experts from ALL fields - and yes, that includes those with Hollywood ties.

Federal officials are hoping Cameron can help them come up with ideas on how to stop the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, officials said today.

The “Avatar” and “Titanic” director was among a group of scientists and other experts who met Tuesday with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies for a brainstorming session on stopping the massive oil leak.

The Canadian-born Cameron is considered an expert on underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies. “Avatar” and “Titanic” are the two highest-grossing films of all time.

BP, meanwhile, hopes to place a cap on a fractured oil pipe and contain the Gulf of Mexico spill within the next 24 hours, a top company official said.

"If everything goes well, within the next 24 hours, we could have this contained," BP's chief operating officer Doug Suttles told reporters in Louisiana.

Considering Cameron's expertise in underwater remote technology, I'm all for him being part of a larger panel doing to brainstorming and problem solving. However, conservatives are framing this like Obama and Cameron are the only ones in the room with their heads in their hands going "oh, shit, what are we going to do?"

But this isn't the first time Feds have used sci-fi writers to help shape specific policy and practices. The intelligence community has been using them for decades to help modify and craft national security procedures and how our defense departments will have to react to or prevent threats against our country.

The most prominent of these groups of authors is called Sigma.

Many SIGMA members are Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers; all are science fiction writers who have spent careers applying their technical and literary talents in exploring the future of science, technology, society and cultures. SIGMA provides a significant pool of talent for volunteer pro bono consultation with the Federal government and other organizations which need the imagination that only speculative writers can provide.

With sufficient notice, SIGMA can provide a panel of distinguished science fiction authors with real-world expertise ranging over physics, astrophysics, nuclear science, advanced weaponry, engineering, nanotechnology, biomedicine, human factors and a common element of practical futurism. Other members can be recruited as needed; a large pool of potential SIGMAns exists within the professional science fiction community.

I'm also reminded of the numerous occasions that Author C. Clarke consulted with NASA prior to new missions into space. Was this seen as out of the norm by conservatives? Likely there were a few that found this practice strange, but considering many of the most brilliant minds from the sci-fi genre have predicted most of what we now take for granted, this should come as a surprise to no one.

Again, this is all a matter of perception versus perspective. If you completely lack the proper perspective on any issue, you perception can be manipulated quite easily. This is a perfect example of such an issue.

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