Useful Fiction is a network of creators, thinkers, and artists, who cross the realms of forecasting and communication. Our events and projects have brought together the work of former leaders of US military services, tech forecasters for Fortune 500 companies, best-selling writers of projects like World War Z, Ghost Fleet, and American War, the producers of such Hollywood projects like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Homeland, and Crazy Rich Asians, and artists who have illustrated for Wired and New York Times Sunday Magazine

Managing Partners

August Cole is Principal at Useful Fiction and an author exploring the future of conflict through fiction and other forms of “FICINT” storytelling. His talks, short stories, and workshops have taken him from speaking at the Nobel Institute in Oslo to presenting at SXSW Interactive to tackling the “Dirty Name” obstacle at Fort Benning. 

He is a non-resident fellow at the Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Creativity at Marine Corps University and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council; he directed the Council’s Art of the Future Project, which explores creative and narrative works for insight into the future of conflict, from its inception in 2014 through 2017. He consults on creative futures at SparkCognition, an artificial intelligence company. August is a regular speaker to private sector, academic and US and allied government audiences. Previously, August reported on the defense industry for The Wall Street Journal, helping break many major national security stories, including foreign cyber spies hacking into the U.S. Joint Strike Fighter program, major defense contractors doing “Smart Power” development work in Africa, U.S. sales of F-16 fighters to Iraq and a Blackwater civilian shooting incident in Afghanistan. Prior to that, he worked as an editor and a reporter for MarketWatch.com. He is a regular participant in Defense Entrepreneurs Forum activities and is also a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Royal United Services Institute, and the AI Initiative of the Future Society. Designated a “Mad Scientist” by the US Army, he is a former non-resident fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point. With P.W. Singer, he is also the co-author of a new type of novel, using the format of a technothriller to communicate nonfiction research. Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War was both a top summer read and led to briefings everywhere from the White House to the Pentagon. His latest is Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution. It has been described by the creator of Lost and Watchmen as “A visionary new form of storytelling—a rollercoaster ride of science fiction blended with science fact,” and by the head of Army Cyber Command as “I loved Burn-In so much that I’ve already read it twice.”

Peter Warren Singer is Strategist at New America, a Professor of Practice at Arizona State University, and Principal at Useful Fiction.

New York Times Bestselling author, described in the Wall Street Journal as “the premier futurist in the national-security environment,” he has been named by the Smithsonian as one of the nation’s 100 leading innovators, by Defense News as one of the 100 most influential people in defense issues, by Foreign Policy to their Top 100 Global Thinkers List, and as an official “Mad Scientist” for the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. No author, living or dead, has more books on the professional US military reading lists. His non-fiction books include Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military IndustryChildren at WarWired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st CenturyCybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know and most recently LikeWar, which explores how social media has changed war and politics. It was named an Amazon and Foreign Affairs book of the year and reviewed by Booklist as “LikeWar should be required reading for everyone living in a democracy and all who aspire to.” He is also the co-author of a new type of novel, using the format of a technothriller to communicate nonfiction research. Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War was both a top summer read and led to briefings everywhere from the White House to the Pentagon. His latest is Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution. It has been described by the creator of Lost and Watchmen as “A visionary new form of storytelling—a rollercoaster ride of science fiction blended with science fact,” and by the head of Army Cyber Command as “I loved Burn-In so much that I’ve already read it twice.”

 

Other Team members

 

Art by Yoshi Sodeoka

Yoshi Sodeoka is an internationally acclaimed visual artist whose work has been displayed at Centre Pompidou, Tate Britain, and the Museum of Modern Art, among other prestigious venues. His editorial art work on subjects such as facial recognition, robotic warfare, and disinformation can be found in publications like the New York Times, MIT Technology Review, and WIRED Magazine.

Design by Sam Cole

Sam Cole is a filmmaker and artist creating content for top brands such as NIKE, VISIONAIRE, and G-SHOCK with his creative studio MAKEBELIEVE.WORLD.  Cole has also lived and worked in Japan where he directed award-winning music videos for top Japanese artists and directed, shot and produced a feature documentary, Danchi No Yume.  

 

Hope Seck is an award-winning reporter and editor, who has been covering tech and military issues since 2009. The former managing editor for Military.com, she is also a member of the board of directors at the Military Reporters and Editors Association. A graduate of The King’s College in New York City, her work has also appeared in Marine Corps Times, Newsweek, USA Today, The New York Sun, and World Magazine. 

ADVISORY GROUP

Ché Bolden is President of the Charles F. Bolden Group and Co-Founder of SapientONE. With experience and interests in Human-Machine Collaboration and integration, Extended Reality, and other technology adoption and adaptation, Ché served 26 years in the Marine Corps in roles that range from the Joint Staff to as a Strike Fighter Weapons Instructor (TOP GUN).

Debora Cahn is an Emmy-nominated writer and producer. She has worked on a wide variety of dramatic projects that ranged from The West Wing to Grey’s Anatomy to serving as Executive Producer of Homeland.

A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, Ken Liu is the author of multiple best-selling science fiction and fantasy books, the inventor of the “silkpunk” genre bringing together traditions of engineering and East Asia’s classical antiquity and aesthetics., as well as translator of the acclaimed Three Body Problem series. He also consults on the implications of new technologies (5G, GPT-3, nanomaterials, etc.) science fiction, virtual reality, and sustainable storytelling. 

Niloofar Razi Howe has been an investor, executive and entrepreneur in the tech industry for over 25 years. She has served as Chief Strategy Officer at RSA, a global cybersecurity company, a Sr. Operating Partner at Energy Impact Partners and is on the boards of Morgan Stanley Bank, NA, Recorded Future, Tenable and the NSA.

 

Admiral John M. Richardson is a retired United States Navy four-star Admiral who served as the 31st Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) from 2015 until 2019. Adm. Richardson also served as the Director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program (a joint Department of Energy and Department of Navy organization), and the Commander of the U.S. Navy Submarine Force.