Daily Archives: May 31st, 2007

Homeland Security Goes Sci-Fi

By way of oldephartteintraining:

SF writers advise on Homeland Security

The Homeland Security Department has called up their special team of science fiction authors, a group called Sigma, to help them imagine various terror scenarios and ways to fight the “war” on terror. Sigma members Jerry Pournelle, Arlan Andrews, greg Bear, Larry Niven, and Sage Walker, all attended a Homeland Security conference in Washington this month about science and technology. Andrews formed the group fifteen years ago and apparently the last time they met was to envision a post-nuclear age. From USA Today:

The group’s motto is “Science Fiction in the National Interest.” To join the group, Andrews says, you have to have at least one technical doctorate degree.

“We’re well-qualified nuts,” says Jerry Pournelle, co-author of the best sellers Footfall and Lucifer’s Hammer and dozens of other books.

Pournelle and others say that science-fiction writers have spent their lives studying the kinds of technologies and scenarios Homeland Security officials have been tackling since the department began operating in 2003.

“We talk to a lot of strange people and read a lot of weird things,” Bear says.

I’m surprised this hasn’t happened before now. One of the findings of the 9/11 Commission (pablum for the masses) was that intelligence agencies had “…a lack of imagination…” about “connecting the dots”.

The main beef about the Feds was that the “beaurocracy” always slowed information sharing, had lack of vision and put turf wars ahead of everything else. The crew Comrade Chertoff is gathering together aren’t slouches when it come to imagination, especially Pournelle and Niven. They are libertarian militarists in the finest tradition of SF great Robert Heinlein, a graduate of Annapolis. Jerry Pournelle in fact is a Korean War veteran and holds advanced degrees in statistics and engineering (bio). Larry Niven (bio) has collaberated with Pournelle on many novels that have a military flavor, including one of my favorites, The Mote In God’s Eye.

My question is, ‘Will this group (dubbed Sigma) answer to the actual beaurocratic government officer (Chertoff), or to some secret government no-bid contractor?

Not that it would make any difference at this stage of the game anyway.