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France's 'Red Team' Of Science Fiction Authors
The French army has created a "Red Team", a group composed of science fiction writers, to help them foresee threats to that nation's security.
A report by France’s recently established Defence Innovation Agency says four or five visionaries are being hired to imagine “scenarios of disruption” that might not occur to military planners.
Bruno Tertrais, deputy director of France’s Foundation for Strategic Research, said the role of the Red Team would be to think more creatively than the military top brass and challenge “any certainties that we may have and hypotheses about the future outside the usual bureaucratic procedures”.
They will try to anticipate how terrorist groups or hostile states might use advanced technology against France. He added that a similar exercise had been conducted in the United States, where science fiction writers took part in defence brainstorming sessions after the September 11 attacks.
Niven and Pournelle made use of the idea of sf writers advising the government in their excellent 1985 novel Footfall, in which herd aliens invade the solar system and the government asks for help.
The government creates a special think tank of science fiction writers who try to understand the aliens and extrapolate their capabilities. Eventually, they even invited a captured member of the aliens to join their "herd" - the Dreamer Fithp. The military called them the Threat Team.
They took their places in the lecture room, but they tended to sit for a moment, then get up and gather in clumps. Most of them talked at once. Working with the science-fiction people was an educational experience. They had no reverence for anything or anyone...
"Admiral Carrell has assembled an intelligence group to advise the National Security Council. You are part of it."
"Makes sense. Who else knows about aliens?"
She looked at her seating chart. Curtis. She nodded. "...You are the Threat Team. The others will assume the aliens are friendly. Our group will examine the possibility they are hostile..."
As one character says in the book, you might as well listen to science fiction writers because, in some areas, "they're the only experts we have."
I was asked by a US military intelligence officer to contribute ideas or potential technologies that science fiction writers had imagined sometime around 2005. I submitted my list, taken from the early version of this site, and never heard another thing about it.
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