Dangerous to those who profit from the way things are

research * the future * culture


In 2011, I graduated from the Masters of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation program at OCADU. (This followed my first graduate degree, a Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies.) As part of the SFI program, my fellow students and I helped businesses and organizations re-design their priorities, operations, and communications. I was part of teams that developed prospective solutions for the Toronto International Film Festival, Corus Interactive, and ReThink Breast Cancer.

In my foresight work I have facilitated foresight workshops, made presentations, written reports, developed communications, conducted research, created science fiction prototypes, and consulted on patent applications for new technologies.

Much of what I do is develop what Brian David Johnson at Intel calls “science fiction prototypes.” Often, someone gets in touch with me because they want to talk in a creative but structured way about the future of a given area. It might be intelligent systems, or smart cities, or immigration, or a world without antibiotics. (I’ve written stories about all of those, for my clients.)The end goal might be a story that accompanies an internal communication, or an immersive way to pitch a new idea, or a story that can create a conversation at a workshop or other event. Sometimes I’m asked to write something optimistic. Sometimes I’m asked to describe the worst possible outcome. Sometimes people love my stories. Other times, they leave the room in disgust. (This actually happened, once. It’s my proudest moment.) Either way, I usually meet great people, and I go cool places, and I see technologies in development long before they hit the mainstream. I do this in between writing science fiction novels.

In short, I have the best job(s) in the whole world.

In 2010, I worked on the 2020 Media Futures project on the needs of Ontario’s creative and entertainment cluster, and the PLAYPR project on the future of gameplay, performance, and storytelling. The foresight scenario I wrote for my thesis on the future of border security was featured at BoingBoing. I continued this work with the Border Town Design Studio, after which I exhibited my work at the 2011 Detroit Design Festival. In 2013 went on to write another story about the future of border security for Project Hieroglyph, a collaboration between Arizona State University and the Centre for Science and the Imagination, inspired by Neal Stephenson’s call for bigger ideas in science fiction and futurism. That turned into writing a comic book story for the WorldBank about the future of human trafficking, in 2014. At the time, I was also working on developing user stories forĀ InteraXon, the company behind the Muse headband. Since then, I’ve gone on to work with SciFutures, Nesta, Data & Society, the Atlantic Council, and others.

Some of my work is confidential, meant for internal use only. Here’s a list of the work I’ve done that is available to the public:

Science Fiction Prototypes

Media Appearances and Keynotes

For perspective, here is a piece I wrote for Tor.com about the influence of science fiction on my work, and the differences between my work in foresight and in fiction. I’ve also written about this subject at BoingBoing, in a post titled SF vs. SF.

If you’d like to enlist me, please use the contact form up above so we can start a conversation.

  • Madeline Ashby…

    ...is a science fiction writer, futurist, speaker, and immigrant living in Toronto. She writes a column for the Ottawa Citizen. She is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates, and Jason Richman at UTA. You can buy her novels here. She has worked with Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Nesta, Data & Society, The Atlantic Council, the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, and others. Her short fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her other essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity, Tor.com, MISC Magazine, FutureNow, and elsewhere.
  • Books

    Madeline Ashby's books on Goodreads
    vN vN (The Machine Dynasty, #1)
    reviews: 18
    ratings: 27 (avg rating 3.56)

    Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic SF Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic SF
    reviews: 18
    ratings: 44 (avg rating 3.45)

    Tesseracts Eleven: Amazing Canadian Speculative Fiction Tesseracts Eleven: Amazing Canadian Speculative Fiction
    reviews: 6
    ratings: 14 (avg rating 3.50)

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  • Madeline 's bookshelf: read

    Designing for Interaction: Creating Innovative Applications and Devices (2nd Edition)Super Natural Cooking: Five Delicious Ways: To Incorporate Whole & Natural Ingredients into Your CookingGluten-Free Girl and the ChefPeople Crossing Borders: An Analysis of U.S. Border Protection PoliciesHalf the Day Is NightThe Magicians

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