San Diego 2049

San Diego 2049

GPS is celebrating its 30th anniversary by partnering with the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination to produce San Diego 2049, a series of programs through 2018–19 that will use the imagination and narrative tools of science fiction to stimulate complex thinking about the future and the ways we could shape it through policy, technology, innovation, culture, and social change.

The largest challenges facing life on earth—climate change; the possible emergence of new autonomous, intelligences; the decentralized ability to edit genetic material—are multi-generational, contingent, and uncertain. Choices taken today will have hard-to-foresee consequences; the pace of technological change means that policy choices may struggle to keep up.

If we are to leave the earth in better shape than we found it, successful social choices will require us to imagine distant alternate futures that reflect our best knowledge about how humans behave and evolve socially, politically, and cognitively. Science fiction gives us the needed space for long-range speculation and the complex interactions of technological, political, and social change.

Imagining the future helps us react to unanticipated situations—futures that we did not imagine. This competition and event series foster diverse visions for San Diego in 2049 from UC San Diego graduate students and draws on research by faculty across divisions. By bringing together students, science fiction writers, faculty, policymakers, and industry experts, we aim to foster the kind of multi-modal, boundary-crossing thinking that we need today to anticipate the potential shape of the world thirty years from now.

The San Diego 2049 student competition, open to graduate students from all disciplines at UC San Diego, provides hands-on experience in sophisticated futurist forecasting and science fictional thought experiments to develop robust scenarios, clarify problems, and develop policy solutions in an emergent near-future. Student teams will have the opportunity to learn from science fiction writers and futurists, and be paired with a GPS faculty member for guidance on policy implications. Through workshops and panels, teams will develop their worldbuilding skills. Mini-grants will be available to assist in the creation of their own interventions in these futures, empowering students to take ownership over the complex ways in which our actions in the present influence the shape of the world a generation from now.

Schedule of Past Events

  • Oct. 8 from 5–6 p.m.: Student info session with GPS Professor John Ahlquist
  • Oct. 12 from 5–7 p.m.: Worldbuilding: Scenarios, for Fun and for Survival Program kickoff public lecture with Vernor Vinge (video)
  • Oct. 13 from 10 a.m.–1 p.m.: Mandatory worldbuilding workshop for students by Ann Pendleton-Jullian and initial project brainstorming/team-building
  • Oct. 29 from 5–6:30 p.m.: The Future of Labor, Work and Industry with Teddy Cruz, Fonna Forman, Deborah Forster and John Ahlquist (photos)
  • Nov. 1: Team applications due (form)
  • Week 9: Submission deadline for project proposals and micro-grants
  • Jan. 26 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.: Worldbuilding Hack-a-Thon for graduate students only (photos)
  • Feb. 1: Team applications due (form) and submission deadline for project proposals and micro-grants
  • Feb. 19: Radical Economies with Glen Weyl (Microsoft Research, co-author of “Radical Markets), in conversation with David Brin (science fiction writer and futurist, author of The Transparent Society) and Renee Bowen (GPS Professor and Director, Center on Commerce and Diplomacy)
  • Week 5: Future of Gene Editing, Bioengineering, and Synthetic Life – public panel and mentoring sessions 
  • April 4 from 5:30–7 p.m.: Your Dystopia Has Been Canceled lecture by Annalee Newitz, journalist and science fiction author of “Autonomous” (photos)
  • Week 5: Future of Robotics, AI, and Law – public panel, and mentoring sessions with GPS faculty
  • May 22: Closing Keynote with Kim Stanley Robinson and Team Project Competition (photos) (story)
  • July 2019: Comic Con (photos)

The Competition

UC San Diego graduate students (professional, masters and Ph.D.) are invited to form teams to design a vision for the San Diego border region in 2049 and create an intervention into that future. The intervention can take any number of forms: a story, a policy paper, a film, a game, a prototype, a product, a media broadcast or podcast, a performance, etc.

Events throughout the year will help student teams develop and refine their future thinking with expert guidance. At the end of Fall 2018, teams will have an opportunity to apply for $500 micro-grants to cover expenses associated with developing their intervention. At the end of Spring 2019, a pitch-fest style competition will be held in which students present their final projects. 

Full information, as well as team applications, can be found here.