Government seeks sci-fi antiterrorism insight

The Department of Homeland Security wants to hear the thoughts of science fiction authors about terrorist attacks and responses.

In effort to broaden its thinking about terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security is tapping into the thinking of a group of science fiction authors called Sigma, according to USA Today.

"We need to look everywhere for ideas, and science fiction writers clearly inform the debate," said department spokesman Christopher Kelly.

Science fiction authors are often prone to flights of extreme fancy, but they can be good prognosticators. Indeed, in the novel Footfall, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, the government assembles a group of science fiction writers to seek their counsel about an alien invasion. Pournelle and Niven are in the group.

According to USA Today, author Greg Bear said the group brainstorms about methods of attack and prevention as well as the governmental and social responses to attacks.

Sigma's motto is "science fiction in the national interest," and authors must have a doctorate in a technical field to join.

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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