Distinguished Guests

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Betty Sue Flowers is North America’s greatest living thinker about myth, and how it always continues to shape our business, personal, and nation political affairs today.   Flowers is the editor of Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth.”   Her recent interview about “The Dueling Myths of Business” with the Strategy+Business is available here. She is also a pioneering scenario planner, inventing ways to systematically and rationally use story to think about the future worldwide.

Betty Sue Flowers is a highly decorated teacher and academic at the University of Texas, Austin.  She is also a critically acclaimed poet.


Michael M. Crow is a  knowledge enterprise architect.  He builds organizations around humanity’s uncanny ability to acquire, integrate, and apply truths.   In “None Dare Call It Hubris,” however, he dared to ask what the limits of knowledge might actually be.  He then detailed new ways to conceive of the pursuit of knowledge and innovation, to understand and build political institutions, and to endow philosophy with meaning for people other than philosophers.   Crow recently celebrated his tenth anniversary as president of Arizona State University.

Video: Michael Crow, Solve X for 2012  

Buzz Bissinger writes non-fiction as story.  A Pulitzer Prize winner, he is the author of the wildly best-selling “Friday Night Lights,” which portrays the heroic quality of small-town Texas high-school football. It lead to the movie of the same name starring Billy Bob Thornton, as well as the Emmy-winning television series.  He also wrote “Shattered Glass” for Vanity Fair.  It’s an investigation into truth focused on Stephen Glass who, at only the age of 25, had become the most sought-after young reporter in Washington, producing knockout articles for journals from The New Republic to Rolling Stone. Trouble was, he made things up.   His career turned out to be the most sustained fraud in modern journalism.  

Bruce Sterling is best known for his best-selling and award-winning science fiction from “Holy Fire” to “Taklamakan.” But he is primarily an instigator, troublemaker and intellectual crockery breaker across non-fiction, blogs, Wired magazine columns, fiction, design, futurism, fire-and-brimstone public speaking, teaching, neologism-coining (e.g. “major consensus narrative” as a synonym for “truth”), manifesto writing and movement launching.  He has a striking knack for scoring lengthy gigs in impressive time zones in which his title is often something like “Visionary in Residence.” Sterling was the inspiration for the original Emerge in 2012.  For his return in 2013, he and a partner will be taking native Arizona desert rock brought to campus especially for the occasion, and using ASU digitally controller laser cutters and crews to inscribe on them what he describes as “eternal truths.” It’s very “twenty-teens petroglyph,” he says.  We assume he is telling us the truth.  

Natalie Jeremijenko is an artist and engineer whose background includes studies in biochemistry, physics, neuroscience and precision engineering. She is an active member of the net.art movement, and her work primarily explores the interface between society, the environment and technology. She is currently an Associate Professor at New York University in the Visual Art Department, and has affiliated faculty appointments in Computer Science and Environmental Studies. Jeremijenko has alternatively described her work as ‘X Design’ (short for experimental design) and herself as a ‘thingker’.  

Paul Davies is the theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist and best-selling author, whose research interests focus on the “Big Questions,” ranging from the origin of the universe to the origin of life, the search for life beyond Earth, the possibility of time travel, and the nature of quantum reality. He also runs a major NCI-funded cancer research program, and has published a new theory of cancer based on tracing its deep evolutionary roots. Among his best sellers are The Eerie Silence, about the search for ET, How to Build a Time Machine, and The Goldilocks Enigma, about why the universe seems suspiciously well-suited for life.  Davies is director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science and co-director of the Cosmology Initiative, both at Arizona State University.   Brian David Johnson. The future is Brian David Johnson’s business. As a futurist at Intel Corporation, his charter is to develop an actionable 10 -15 year vision for the future of technology. His work is called “future casting”—using ethnographic field studies, technology research, trend data, and even science fiction to provide Intel with a pragmatic vision of consumers and computing. Along with reinventing TV, Johnson has been pioneering development in artificial intelligence, robotics, and using science fiction as a design tool. He speaks and writes extensively about future technologies in articles and scientific papers as well as science fiction short stories and novels (Science Fiction Prototyping: Designing the Future with Science Fiction, Screen Future: The Future of Entertainment Computing and the Devices we Love, Fake Plastic Love, and Nebulous Mechanisms: The Dr. Simon Egerton Stories). He has directed two feature films and is an illustrator and commissioned painter.   Syd Mead is a “visual futurist” and concept artist. One of the most famed figures in design, working on many of cinema’s biggest sci-fi films, Syd Mead is best known for his designs for science-fiction films such as Blade RunnerAliens and Tron. Of his work, Mead was once moved to comment: “I’ve called science fiction ‘reality ahead of schedule.'” Mead attributes success in an astonishing range of creative activities to the premise that imagination…the idea, supersedes technique. “There are more people in the world who make things than there are people who think of things to make.”   Neil Harbisson. Born with the inability to see color, Neil Harbisson wears a prosthetic device — he calls it an “eyeborg” — that allows him to hear the spectrum, even those colors beyond the range of human sight. His unique experience of color informs his artwork — which, until he met cyberneticist Adam Montandon at a college lecture, was strictly black-and-white. By working with Montandon, and later with Peter Kese, Harbisson helped design a lightweight eyepiece that he wears on his forehead that transposes the light frequencies of color hues into sound frequencies. Harbisson’s artwork blurs the boundaries between sight and sound. In his Sound Portraits series, he listens to the colors of faces to create a microtonal chord. In the City Colours project, he expresses the capital cities of Europe in two colors (Monaco is azure and salmon pink; Bratislava yellow and turquoise).   Emily Anthes is a journalist whose articles have appeared in WiredDiscoverPsychology TodaySlateScientific American, and more.Her new book, Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts, will be published in March by Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. She holds a master’s degree in science writing from MIT and a bachelor’s degree in the history of science and medicine from Yale. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.           Will Oremus is a staff writer for Slate magazine and lead blogger for Future Tense, where he reports on emerging technologies, tech policy, and digital culture. A graduate of Stanford University and the Columbia Journalism School, he focuses on how technology shapes society, and has written about everything from the inner workings of Google’s servers to outer-space asteroid mining to a Somali terrorist group that you can talk to on Twitter. In addition to Slate, his work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and The New Yorker online.  

Future Tense is a collaboration among Slate magazine, the New America Foundation and ASU that focuses on how emerging technologies are transforming policy and society. At Emerge, the Future Tense panel revolves around the question: Will Cyborg Technology Change the Truth of the Human Experience? For millennia, humans have created technology to master the world around us. Now we’re turning that builder mindset inward—fiddling with biology to enhance our abilities and quality of life. New technologies make it possible to add bionic parts to our bodies or to extend our senses beyond their natural limits. It’s easy to imagine a future in which this new toolbox for tinkering with life lets each of us customize the fundamental ways we experience the world. How will we find common truths when we can tailor our experiences to our liking? Can technology change what it means to be human, or even animal?

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