International UFO convention tries to be serious

The words “UFO convention” may conjure up images of aliens, Area 51, and fringe vests, but what about business professionals and politicians?

If you are shaking your head, then obviously you haven’t heard about the latest version of the UFO convention – the Global Competitiveness Forum. Kind of like the hip version of Nevada’s alien convention, this conference takes place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and attempts to attract leaders in business, sports, politics, and education.

No really, we’re talking UFOs, as in unidentified flying objects.


Organizers and Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority sponsoring the event believe talking UFOs and science fiction will prompt forward thinking and fuel innovation.

The idea is to bring together a group of forward thinkers who share a common interest in solving global challenges and push them to think big.

“I think because they recognize that if you want to look for innovation, look for somebody who’s way ahead of you,” Stanton Friedman, a nuclear physicist and one of the panelist told AOL News on the eve of his departure for Saudi Arabia.

“Even if UFOs and aliens weren’t real, just thinking about it is a big thing, enlarging the scope of our thinking to include a larger part of the galactic neighborhood instead of the planet.”

Friedman said he’s “convinced, after my work for major corporations as a nuclear physicist, that technological progress comes from doing things differently in an unpredictable way. The future is not an extrapolation of the past. Reviewing the UFO evidence requires us to examine our assumptions about how things work.”

Friedman and his colleagues including anthropologists, doctors, and other nuclear psycisiscts, will be exploring topics like “Contact: Learning from Outer Space.”

The GCF may sound farfetched but in reality, more and more technology is getting a cue from science fiction. For example, S. Korea is taking the futuristic approach of using robots to teach students English.

In Taiwan, there are facial recognition vending machines to recognizing an ailment and choose a product from its shelves without prompt.

So maybe it is somewhat true – that looking towards the future and unknown may be the key to unlocking new innovative ideas.