The 2020 Capricon Science Fiction Convention
The Capricon science fiction convention began today. While I have opted to not participate in the con's art show this year, I will be participating in the con's wonderful programming. This is something I look forward to every year.
The panel I most look forward to being on is Making Work which provides for the rare opportunity to discuss and debate economics in a science fiction convention setting. The topic description for our panel is “Automation, AIs and global labor pools threaten the standard of living. How do we increase demand for labor, especially low skilled labor? Or do we need to change our attitudes about work altogether?” Right off there is a problem – that being the premise that automation and globalization threatens our standard of living when the truth is precisely the opposite. Automation/mechanization and the replacement of muscle power with machine power is the core reason why we enjoy the high standard of living that we have today. And globalization has been an important factor in the reduction of global poverty. With respect to AI, it's not so much low skilled labor jobs that are threatened but a range of more highly skilled jobs as well. Moderating the panel will be Bill Lawhorn, who I very much look forward to meeting as his day job is as an economist for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a site I visit fairly often in quests for data. Also on the panel will be author Lance Erlick (Android Chronicles), Deirdre Murphy, and Shelly Loke-Gayares.
A panel that I will be moderating is Social Media Pitfalls for Aspiring Creatives. This 90 minute panel examines the what not to do side of social media. I should do good here as an example of not doing the things that someone needs to do to become successful at social media. For example, in 2018 I decided to take a week off of all social media activity. That meant no posting, no reading, no commenting. It was as if social media had ceased to exist! Anyway, seven months later I figured that maybe I ought to rejoin the social media race. It was amazing how much I was able to accomplish in the time that was freed up. I must say that I have never spent the time on social media that is required to become a SM success. Once upon a time (several years ago actually) I took an online class on Twitter. The instructor really emphasized the need to be on the platform every day and boasted that she spent at least three hours a day doing Twitter. I distinctly remember the first thought that came into my head: this woman must not have a life outside of Twitter. For me, I didn't even spend 3 hours a year on Twitter. For the most part my interest in social media has been in its operational aspects so I will set up accounts on lots of platforms to see how they work and what the community is like. Joining me on the panel and providing their expertise will be Beverly Bambury, Trungles (con name), Red (con name), and John Everson.
Another panel is The Cosmos – Where are we now? Given my background and long interest in astronomy and planetary science, this should be a natural for me. Heck, I attended the 2018 annual conference of the AAS Division of Planetary Science which was held at the Knoxville Convention Center where I spent a solid week listening to presentations about the latest research in planetary science. But in the year since, I've found little time to keep up on the astronomical and planetary science worlds. Fortunately, the panel's focus is on the advances that have been made over the last 40 years, since Carl Sagan's Cosmos aired. Bill Higgins will be moderating the panel and my co-panelists will be Nathan Cohan and Michael Unger.
Lastly, and certainly the most tasty, will be my moderation of the con's Coffee panel – which will be more than just a panel. We'll get to show off our favorite caffeine delivery systems, talk about bean biology, the importance of things like grind size and water temperature, etc. Best of all there will be tasting and demonstrations. For my part, my home is equipped with a drip (yuck – don't touch the stuff myself), a french, aka coffee, press, an Aeropress, a Chemex, and an expresso machine. I tend to vary from one to the other because each method produces a cup of coffee that has its own flavor profile. Most heavily used are the Aeropress and the Chemex. Joining me in this caffeine extravaganza will be Brian Thomas of Initiative Coffee and Aimee “Kaffee” Dundon. Clearly this will be the con's most highly caffeinated panel. Note that because this panel is being held in a suite rather than one of the standard programming rooms, those wishing to attend will need to sign up in advance at the con's info desk.