SciFi at #SXSW2019: Notes from the field

Last week I attended my first #SXSW, and my head is still swirling a bit! As many veterans counseled me, there was a lot to see and do, and I didn’t want to miss a thing. Now that I’m home, things are starting to coalesce across the programming I attended, from aerospace engineering to #metoo and behavioral economics to immunotherapy advancements.

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is the natural dialogue between storytelling in science fiction and advancements in science.

My first session was all about how scifi allows us to push the laws of physics regarding travel and space, imagining new possibilities that in turn inspire advancements in those fields. But thinking about the future, or outside the realm of current possibility, can encourage challenging all sorts of natural laws and human inclinations—so I’m determined to approach my next creative brainstorm asking “what if?” to yield innovative ideas.

I also got to hear Neil Gaiman—one of my favorite scifi/fantasy authors—talk about the worlds he’s created in books and in film, and what inspired him—then experience one of them, Good Omens, in live activations throughout the week. What struck me across all my experiences was everyone’s passion for these scifi worlds—the characters, the questions, the worlds they tackled.

We talk a lot about the ability of storytelling and science to create game changing conversations in the healthcare landscape—and the underlying brain chemistry that makes this the case—but at SX I thought about how this applies far above and beyond our specific field, that this powerful combination can inspire other game-changers—future scientists and scientific innovations, those impacted by a personal connection to a story, or society thinking about social issues and questions in a new context.

At the heart of it all is the emotional connection we develop with these worlds and, with that love, our ability to imagine and even place ourselves within a new, inspiring ecosystem.

If you attended or followed #SXSW2019, I’d love to hear what’s sticking in your brain too!

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Talia Baghdoyan, Business Development and Marketing Manager.

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