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Best-Selling Sci-Fi Author to Visit NIU

June 17th, 2014
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Daniel H. Wilson

Are you smarter than your smart phone? Can you outdrive a self-driving car? The technology we rely on is becoming more and more sophisticated. Could humanity survive if that technology turned evil?

Daniel H. Wilson, who explores the possibility of a machine uprising in his novel “Robopocalypse,” will visit NIU and the Sycamore Library this week to discuss his writing, his work and the possibility of surviving a future war against robots.

In “Robopocalypse,” a powerful artificial intelligence called Archos becomes self-aware and perpetrates a massive attack against humanity by taking control of the machines we use every day. Everything from children’s toys to self-driving cars are used to bring humanity to its knees. The survivors of the initial attacks band together and find new ways to use technology to survive.

Wilson has a master’s degree in artificial intelligence and robotics and a doctorate in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of several novels and is currently adapting “Robopocalypse” for Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks. His sequel, “Robogenesis,” was released last week.

Robogenesis2Wilson will speak at NIU’s La Tourette Hall, Room 200, at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 19. He will also speak at the Sycamore Library at noon Friday, June 20, as part of the library’s “Lunch with a Legend” program.

Both of these events are free and open to the public. Wilson’s books will be available for purchase and a free lunch will be provided Friday.

The events are hosted by NIU STEM Read, a program that encourages readers to explore the science behind science fiction. STEM Read creates exciting author events, as well as online games, expert videos and lesson plans, to help readers engage with the science, technology, engineering and math in their favorite books.

In honor of Wilson’s visit, STEM Read is celebrating robotics all week long. Organizers have partnered with STEM Outreach to create an interdisciplinary teen summer camp called Preventing the Robopocalypse, which will use concepts from “Robopocalypse” to introduce teens to robotics, art and design, ethics and creative writing. STEM Read is also hosting a professional development event called STEAMing It Up! Hot Tips for Infusing Arts, Literacy, and Contemporary Fiction into STEM Education.

Teachers, librarians and informal educators will gather at Founders Memorial Library before Wilson’s talk to discuss tools, lesson plans and learning resources that they can use to engage young learners with science, technology, engineering, art and math.

For more information, email gkingcargile@niu.edu.