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X Prize assembled a supergroup of sci-fi authors to develop its next competitions

X Prize assembled a supergroup of sci-fi authors to develop its next competitions


The Science Fiction Advisory Council will help the foundation develop ‘roadmaps’ for the future

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Image: Raphael Lacoste

The X Prize Foundation has launched a number of competitions over the years that include everything from addressing water quality and women’s safety to exploring the depths of the ocean, to sending rovers to the Moon. Now, it’s assembled a supergroup of some of the world’s best known science fiction authors to help the organization imagine what the future will look like.

The Science Fiction Advisory Council is made up of 64 advisors, which includes some of the biggest names from the world of science fiction literature, film, and television: Charlie Jane Anders, Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, David Goyer, Nancy Kress, Annalee Newitz, Larry Niven, Bruce Sterling, J. Michael Straczynski, Charles Stross, Andy Weir, and many others. Eric Desatnik, X Prize’s senior public relations director, told The Verge in an email that he brought the idea of the advisory council to the foundation’s founder, Peter Diamandis last year, who “said yes before I could even finish my sentence.”

The goal, he explains, “is to accelerate positive change in the world by bringing together” people who have already been doing just that. He noted that several of the foundation’s projects, were inspired directly by science fiction stories, including this the tricorder-style device that was awarded a $2.6 million prize.

The group will help guide X Prize’s future challenges

The group will meet regularly throughout the year in virtual and in-person meetings, and will work with X Prize to figure out various “roadmaps” to “identify the ideal catalysts, drivers and mechanisms” for future prizes, focusing on several broad categories: Planet & Environment; Energy & Resources; Shelter & Infrastructure; Health & Wellbeing; Civil Society; Learning & Human Potential; and Space & New Frontiers.

The group’s first project will be a collaboration with Japan’s All Nippon Airways, Seat14C, which the foundation calls a “digital science fiction anthology featuring original stories by members of the advisory council, told from the perspectives of passengers onboard a fictional ANA flight from Tokyo to San Francisco who mysteriously find themselves transported 20 years in the future.”