TSC 2010-Keynote Speaker


Robert J. Sawyer - Science Fiction and Consciousness                                                                      

Sat.    April 17, 2010   11:10am-12:35pm 


                                                                  Robert J. Sawyer


Robert J. Sawyer’s bestselling science-fiction novels have long explored issues of consciousness. In this keynote, Sawyer will discuss the models of and theories about consciousness he’s variously employed in novels such as FlashForward (and the ABC TV series based on it, for which he is consultant and a scriptwriter), in which the consciousness of all human beings is displaced forward in time for a period of two minutes; Mindscan, in which consciousness is digitized and uploaded; Hominids, in which true self-aware consciousness arises in Neanderthals; The Terminal Experiment, in which a biomedical engineer records the final cessation of consciousness at death; Factoring Humanity, in which a technology is developed that allows surfing of the collective unconscious; and his current “WWW” trilogy of Wake, Watch, and Wonder, about the spontaneous emergence of consciousness in the World Wide Web.

Sawyer is one of only seven writers in history to win all three of the science-fiction field’s top awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo (which he won for Hominids), the Nebula (which he won for The Terminal Experiment), and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (which he won for Mindscan). In addition, he has won the top SF awards in Canada, China, France, Japan, and Spain. He’s previously given talks at the headquarters of Google, at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Penn, and at the Library of Congress, and he’s been published in both Science (guest editorial) and Nature (fiction). His website is SFwriter.com.