Welcome To Working Futures: 14 Speculative Fiction Stories About The Future Of Work

from the get-to-work dept

Order your copy of Working Futures today »

Last week, I gave you a heads up and a preview of our latest project from our think tank, the Copia Institute: our brand new anthology of speculative fiction about the future of work, called Working Futures. The book is now available in both ebook and paperback format at Amazon (initially, we'll be publishing it exclusively through Amazon, though we plan to offer other options down the road). You can purchase the ebook for $2.99, the paperpack for $9.99, or both combined for $10.99 (or, if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, you can read it for free). The book has 14 wonderful stories and comes in at over 200 pages. You can also purchase the special custom deck of cards we used to help us create the scenarios that were given to the authors as "prompts" to inspire the various stories. And you can download the PDF of the prompts as well, if you'd like to see them.

Last week, I wrote about the process by which this project came together -- how we built the custom deck of cards, what we did with them, and how we got sci-fi writers to make use of them. This week, with the actual launch of the book, I wanted to zoom in a bit on the actual stories in the book. Over the next few days, I'll talk a bit about some of the stories in the book, and what made them stand out when we were choosing the stories for the book:


The Machine Starts by Liam Hogan is a quick fun story that envisions the role of humans in a world in which computer AI is pretty much all pervasive, and an entity known as "The Machine", whose powers are so great that it resulted in the demise of the today's generation of internet giants. But with something so powerful and all knowing, why would it need to hire people? Well, as this story demonstrates, there are always situations in which human perception will be able to do things that artificial intelligence cannot.

The Chaperone by Andrew Dana Hudson is, in some ways, a flipside to the story by Hogan that precedes it. In that story we learn about how a human can assist an AI, whereas in the Chaperone, we learn about how AI's might assist humans. For better and for worse. Hudson described his story in a pretty straightforward tweet: "My #solarpunk novellete, "The Chaperone," is for everyone who watched Her (2013) and thought, "cool future, but this doesn't seem like *our* future—where's the late stage capitalism, political upheaval and climate change??"

The Funeral Company by Katharine Dow might conceivably take place in a similar world to the one in Hudson's novellette above, though on the other side of the country. It describes a very different kind of job that might crop up in a world of pervasive information and data about everyone -- and also how some people might respond to not wanting to live in such a world.


That's it for today. I'll have more later in the week about some of the other stories in the book. If any of the three snippets above intrigue you, or you can't wait to hear about the other stories... feel free to go ahead and pick up the book.

Filed Under: ai, bioengineering, future of work, genetic engineering, jobs, speculative fiction, working futures


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  • icon
    a sentient cat (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 7:52am

    I'm excited to read this. Science fiction/speculative fiction is like catnip to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 8:52am

    Why no EPUB?

    As the topic says, why no EPUB format? I want to read the books on my iPhone with the Books app and on my Barnes & Noble Nook. So why don’t you have one?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 8:55am

      Re: Why no EPUB?

      Derp, Reading comprehension fail on my part; I didn’t read the part where it was a timed exclusive by Amazon. Me stupid.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2019 @ 10:02am

        Re: Re: Why no EPUB?

        I see no statements about DRM or copyright. Is there DRM? Is it under full restrictive copyright that would prevent me from sharing with friends, even if I'm technically able?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 10:10am

          Re: Re: Re: Why no EPUB?

          All the stories in the book are under some form of Creative Commons license and/or a CC0 public domain dedication. We have no problem with sharing the content.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Samuel Abram (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 10:28am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why no EPUB?

            Awesome! The only problem here is that this means that I have to give Amazon money, but I'd be a hypocrite otherwise (given that I give them money on many other different occasions after abstaining for so long), so I'll buy it on Amazon and then convert to EPUB!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 10:14am

          Re: Re: Re: Why no EPUB?

          Nope, Amazon's DRM is not activated on the book! I understand Kindle files aren't always the most easily portable/convertible in and of themselves, but there are no special restrictions.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Samuel Abram (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 6:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why no EPUB?

            Actually, there was DRM on the Amazon Kindle eBook, but I removed it, and converted it to EPUB, which you can (legally) download here.

            Enjoy!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              BernardoVerda (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 8:19pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why no EPUB?

              Thank you.

              I eschew Kindle books because I simply object to (even despise) the idea of putting books into a proprietary format, and because most e-book distributors -- even if the author/publisher explicitly decline to employ DRM -- Amazon, Kobo, etc. will add their own DRM, anyhow (I found this out the hard way, with the 1st ebook I bought for my e-reader).

              Get this book on Baen, or on Smashwords, and I'll probably buy a copy.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Samuel Abram (profile), 3 Oct 2019 @ 4:58am

                No, Thank YOU!

                I completely agree with you.

                I never got a kindle. In fact, I first started using e-readers when Apple introduced iBooks (now Apple Books) for their iOS devices which used the EPUB format. I also bought a Barnes & Noble Nook which also used the EPUB format, all because I just hated the idea that the Kindle wouldn’t read EPUBs, which I could actually hack and modify on my computer. Not the same with Amazon’s proprietary formats.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 10:37pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why no EPUB?

              You sure about that? The 'DRM flag' I'm aware of for Amazon is whether it has 'Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited' in the product description, with the presence of that a good indicator that it isn't infected with DRM, and as that seems to be the case with this ebook I would be surprised if it had DRM given that 'rule' has been pretty consistent over several hundred ebooks so far.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 10:26am

      Re: Why no EPUB?

      Calibre will most likely be able to do such a conversion for you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Samuel Abram (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 12:59pm

        Re: Re: Why no EPUB?

        There are also a lot of websites that do free MOBI->EPUB conversion. Since I know how to program EPUBs in Dreamweaver (EPUBS are basically XHTML and CSS wrapped in an EPUB shell), I can fix the errors manually. It gives me a chance to flex my web-programming muscles!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 10:07am

    introdued to employment agency young..

    When I was young, they took the whole class to the state employment agency. We took the test and suggested jobs we could have.

    In all the time that I have seen this done, it has never told us the best, better, chances of Jobs in the future. And most of that came in many parts. time changes everything. Jobs available THEN, may not be there. And didnt add LOCATION.. being in a small town the service industry was saturated. then came the idea of Corps controlling most everything. And looking back tot he old days of programming, it started pretty nice, then Distributors took things over and controlled it all for along time, and now a programmer can create and do 90% of it themselves and make real good money. This from first introduction about 1968 until now.
    I dont know any way to anticipate the future and al the interactions of everything. the idea of Atari changing from a Computer company and software(hardware programming) to being a major Distributor changed allot. Its as bad as the Old Music/movie industry and "DONT SIGN ANY CONTRACT".
    Used to be a heavy reader and read things from Silmarillion , Asimov, Bradbury, Doonesbury, Tons of comics $200 amonth habit, Aspirin, most of Shadowrun..

    yes, Im rambling.
    Just waiting for a book about what May/should/alternate futures of what can happen to our future. A tree of the different paths ahead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    T. D. Hoots, 2 Oct 2019 @ 12:46pm

    You DO have the chutzpah to charge a price up front! HA, HA!

    Rather than the bravery to demonstrate your notions in practice.

    After years of telling us that $100M movies can be sold for just over cost of bandwidth?

    After years of ranting about new methods of distribution possible on teh internets: "pay what you want", "read before buy", and host it yourself, you're cutting AMAZON in on this?

    After two decades of deriding exactly this "old" business model and taunting all creators that they need a "new" one?

    You're charging up front for CRAP? Just feeble fantasies written to a spec, promoting the woozy "liberal / globalist" world view from Born Rich privilege, oblivious to the poor besides reality.

    Like the "whistleblower" this week, I don't need to read or even see the "book" to characterize it.

    CRAP. Written by idiot weenies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 2:16pm

      Re: You DO have the chutzpah to charge a price up front! HA, HA!

      As if we didn't need any more evidence that you never bothered to understand what I've said and written about for two decades. Not surprising, but continues to demonstrate your unwillingness to engage seriously with anyone here. Too bad.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2019 @ 4:40pm

      Re: chutzpah Is a Hebrew word. You dumbass anti Semite

      “CRAP. Written by idiot weenies.”

      What a lovely self description.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 3 Oct 2019 @ 1:41am

      Re: You DO have the chutzpah to charge a price up front! HA, HA!

      "After years of telling us that $100M movies can be sold for just over cost of bandwidth?"

      Those people in your head sure sounds stupid. Now, what about the people on this site, who have said no such thing...?

      "You're charging up front for CRAP?"

      ...and this is why nobody believes you have an actual point. You attack people for not offering their own content. Then, when they do offer it, you attack them for offering it. In other words - you have no point in your life, you live to attack and you don't care if you have truth on your side.

      "Like the "whistleblower" this week, I don't need to read or even see the "book" to characterize it."

      "I have no idea what the facts of the whistleblower case is but I'll attack what I imagine it is instead of educating myself with proof" Good one, and that sums you up, doesn't it?

      Oh, and I love the fact that you attack the work based on its quality, then immediately state you don't know what the quality is because you haven't read it. That again sums you up - a hateful ball of dung, whose existence is only nourished by attack other people for being more successful.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    T. D. Hoots, 2 Oct 2019 @ 12:46pm

    Someone strip it and convert to PDF, put it on torrent sites!

    Hey, you kid have for years claimed that's "promotion"! Why doesn't it apply now to Masnick's bit of crap!

    "PROMOTE" THE HELL OUT OF THIS!

    Pirates: put a link to the torrent HERE or you tacitly admit were LYING for years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 1:01pm

      You played yourself

      Hahaha, the joke's on you;

      Mike Masnick's particular story is going to be in the public domain, so nobody will be breaking the law once it's on file-sharing sites!

      It's like what DJ Khaled said, you played yourself!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 1:19pm

      Re: Someone strip it and convert to PDF, put it on torrent sites

      All the stories are under Creative Commons licenses and several have been placed in the public domain. So putting this on torrent sites would not, in fact, be "piracy" - it would be a perfectly legal and indeed encouraged way of sharing the book.

      Have at it, folks!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Samuel Abram (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 1:31pm

        Re: Re: Someone strip it and convert to PDF, put it on torrent s

        Of course, you're assuming out_of_the_blue can argue rationally and do anything other than make a fool out of himself…

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2019 @ 7:43am

        Re: Re: Someone strip it and convert to PDF, put it on torrent s

        Step 1: Create

        Step 2: Put on torrent site

        Step 3: Make available to buy

        Step $: Profit

        Step 5: Repeat

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2019 @ 4:38pm

      Re: Someone’s mad they can’t give away their writing

      Those grapes are so sour they turned to vinegar on the vine bro.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    T. D. Hoots, 2 Oct 2019 @ 12:47pm

    Sunk Or Fixed Costs

    What's different with EBOOKS? $100M movies have ZERO marginal cost!

    Masnick's "centerpiece" is quite brief and he proclaims it KEY to his "authority"; you should read it all first:

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070215/002923/saying-you-cant-compete-with-free-is-saying -you-cant-compete-period.shtml

    Let's say that I want to make a movie. It costs me $100 million to make the movie (fixed cost) and copies of that movie each cost me $0 (marginal cost -- assuming digital distribution and that bandwidth and computing power are also fixed costs).

    Masnick himself states "$0 marginal cost" for each copy even with $100M spent.

    It's not a paraphrasing. ZERO COST.

    So why does YOUR OWN EBOOK not hit the "Magical Masnick Margin" and be given away FREE? -- You can sell T-shirts or take voluntary donations AFTER it's read, right? -- RIGHT, college boy? Why don't you follow your own theory?

    Help me out here, kids. -- Why does Masnick CHARGE up front for each copy of an "infinite good" costing ZERO DOLLARS, in 2019 twelve years after he 'splained his unique insight to the world?


    Obviously, the first "copy" of a $100M movie costs $100M and if 100M copies were made cost at least $1 each. Ivy League PhD Economist Masnick just flat lies that even the most narrowly defined "marginal cost" per copy is zero.

    The deliberate TRICK to Masnick's "can't compete" piece is that he just ignores costs. He mentions the $100M figure solely to impress. But he was forced to address recovering "sunk (or fixed) costs" around comment 51; though dodges by promising to "soon" reveal the true magic. 12 years ago, not a peep since.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2019 @ 4:42pm

      Re: Weeping out loud

      You sound like you are on the verge of tears bro.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 4:57pm

        Re: Re: Weeping out loud

        Last week he insisted this project would never ever be released. And now it's on various best seller lists on Amazon and he's upset. So very, very upset.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2019 @ 11:39pm

          Re: Re: Re: Weeping out loud

          He's still obsessing over that $100 million movie garbage?

          If a producer uses "$100 million" as justification for his movie existing that's a sign of wastefulness, not quality. I wish I could say that I was surprised blue is still pulling off that shit excuse, but when you consider the guy is still linking to 2011 articles where someone offhandedly calls him "ignorant motherfucker"...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 3 Oct 2019 @ 1:53am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Weeping out loud

            "He's still obsessing over that $100 million movie garbage?"

            Not only that, but I believe he's on record as saying that those are the only movies that count, lower budgeted independent movies that successfully make their money back don't count because they're not bloated blockbusters.

            " the guy is still linking to 2011 articles where someone offhandedly calls him "ignorant motherfucker""

            While every time he does that, combines it with ranting idiocy that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he indeed an ignorant motherfucker.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2019 @ 2:07am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Weeping out loud

              Not only that, but I believe he's on record as saying that those are the only movies that count, lower budgeted independent movies that successfully make their money back don't count because they're not bloated blockbusters.

              Oh, that much was known. My lack of surprise was largely rhetorical; it's a recurring feature of the Techdirt trolls to rely on fanciful scenarios to make their flimsy points. Exhibit A: "Section 230 would allow/disallow men from calling women hookers!"

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 3 Oct 2019 @ 1:51am

      Re: Sunk Or Fixed Costs

      "What's different with EBOOKS? $100M movies have ZERO marginal cost!"

      Is this where we have to explain what marginal costs are to you again?

      "So why does YOUR OWN EBOOK not hit the "Magical Masnick Margin" and be given away FREE?"

      Because nobody ever said that pricing the book over its marginal cost is a problem. It's only a problem when someone pretends it's the only way to make back the sunk costs.

      "12 years ago, not a peep since."

      Except in all the articles you're obsessively posted and lied in since then where people have tried to explain why you're wrong about what you imagine is being said. Yet, here you are still.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    urza9814, 2 Oct 2019 @ 1:39pm

    Re-advertise when I can actually buy it please?

    I hope you re-advertise this once you end the Amazon exclusive agreement. Those jerks have ripped me off and taken my money without actually delivering the product far too many times. So, I'd like to read this, but there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I am buying it from Amazon. Probably wouldn't arrive even if I did. So I hope when that idiotic exclusivity deal ends you'll advertise it again, otherwise I probably won't remember....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      urza9814, 2 Oct 2019 @ 1:50pm

      Re: Re-advertise when I can actually buy it please?

      ...although I'm still debating whether or not I should even want to remember it since you're apparently in bed with those scumbags. And also considering that there are many posts here on Techdirt about how exclusivity deals are generally a bad idea...and yet apparently now that you're the one publishing content, suddenly they're a great idea, huh?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Samuel Abram (profile), 2 Oct 2019 @ 4:10pm

        Re: Re: Re-advertise when I can actually buy it please?

        Considering that all the short stories in this collection are either licensed with a sharable or free Creative Commons license or have their copyright waived completely, you don't even have to give Amazon money. Somebody could just put it up on the internet legally and you could download it from there.

        Given that reality, I fail to see what the problem is.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2019 @ 5:49pm

    Those tears are delicious

    There once was an out of the blue
    Who hated the process of due
    Each ebook he'd made
    Was DMCAed
    And shoved up his ass with a screw

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Teamchaos (profile), 3 Oct 2019 @ 8:28am

    Wow. Folks getting bent out of shape cause it costs $2.99.

    I bought a copy on Amazon. I paid for the convenience of having it on my Kindle. It's only $2.99. Less than the price of a Starbucks Grande Latte.

    Any plans for an Audible edition?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 3 Oct 2019 @ 8:31am

      Re: Wow. Folks getting bent out of shape cause it costs $2.99.

      Audible has DRM, which violates the very purpose of putting the file in creative commons or the public domain to begin with.

      So I'm doubtful.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 3 Oct 2019 @ 8:36am

      One other thing…

      I can't speak for other people, but I assume the objections are not that the cost is $2.99, but that
      A. they're giving it to Amazon, who has really sketchy and orwellian privacy dealings going on, and
      B. they're the only vendor for the time being.

      It's almost similar to the controversy over Epic Games Store vis-à-vis PC games. The reason why I say "almost" is because one could legally obtain the compilation for no cost via non-Amazon methods, so it's not a 1:1 comparison. It's more like apples to pay-what-you-want apples comparison.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2019 @ 8:27pm

    I definitely didn't get on an anonymous network to say I'm going to buy it and immediately convert it to pdf thinking that would violate amazon drm and then come here and find out I can do that without hiding it.

    That would have made me feel foolish.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    A Guy, 6 Oct 2019 @ 3:31pm

    I bought the ebook from amazon to support techdirt and downloaded the epub from here because I'm not actually going to buy a kindle or borrow the other kindle in the house.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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