In addition to writing, I’ve been speaking and consulting for almost twenty years. I’ve spoken about innovating inside corporations to a standing-room-only crowd at SXSW, and talked about the future of technology and artificial intelligence to a national assembly of CIOs and CTOs. I’ve helped entrepreneurs and venture capitalists think about technology trends, and helped founders figure out their biggest value-add and their ten year plan.

As someone who is future-oriented, and strategic and visionary in thinking, I can help you figure out a path forward, whether that’s a plan for how technology will change or impact you, or your own personal contributions as an individual.

Most often I do one or two day engagements, but I’m available for anything from a few hours to larger, custom consulting projects.

If you need assistance figuring out the future, I can help!

Reach out to me at william dot hertling at gmail dot com.

After a too-long hiatus, I am thrilled to return to writing.

From 2009 through 2018, I was deeply immersed in crafting narratives that explored the intersection of technology, society, and the human experience.

During those years, I was not just burning the candle at both ends, but throwing the entire candle into the fire. I was juggling a full-time job, a full-time writing career, parenting, moving multiple times, and maintaining a personal life. It was a whirlwind of creativity and chaos, a period of my life that was as rewarding as it was exhausting.

Despite the joy and fulfillment that writing brought me, it never quite earned me enough to quit my day job. And so, faced with the choice between continuing to overextend myself or seeking a better life balance, I chose the latter. I decided to keep the day job, stop writing, and focus on finding equilibrium in my life.

Now, after a period of rest and reflection, I am ready to return to writing. I’m excited to dive back into the creative process, to explore new ideas and revisit old ones. I am eager to reconnect with my readers, to share my thoughts and hear yours in return.

In addition to working on a new book, I will also be returning to blogging. I look forward to using this platform to share my thoughts on a range of topics, including reflections on technology and society as well as personal experiences and insights. I hope that these posts will spark conversations, inspire ideas, and build connections.

I am grateful for your patience during my hiatus and for your continued support as I embark on this new chapter of my writing journey. I look forward to sharing my writing with you once again.

Kill Switch has trickled its way through bookseller’s databases is now fully available. You can buy Kill Switch in the following places:

You can also check out the complete list of where to buy all my books.

Like most of my other books, Kill Switch is designed so that it can be read as a standalone novel. That being said, you’ll get even more out of it if you’ve read the prequel, Kill Process.

I hope you enjoy Kill Switch — and if you do, I hope you’ll tell folks about it!

Kill Switch is here!

Kill Switch is available! Buy it today:

Amazon Kindle



Apple Books

Barnes and Noble

Kill Switch Description

Igloo and Angie are the co-founders of a new social network, Tapestry, based on the principles of privacy and data ownership. Two years later, with Tapestry poised to become the world’s largest social network, their rapid growth puts them under government scrutiny.

Tapestry’s privacy and security is so effective that it impedes the government’s ability to monitor routine communications. Fearing Tapestry will spread to encompass the whole of the Internet, threatening America’s surveillance abilities around the globe, the government swoops in to stop Angie and company — by any means possible.

Under the constant threat of exposure — of Angie’s criminal past, of Igloo’s secret life in the underground kink scene, and of their actions to subvert a FISA court order — they must hatch a plan to ensure the success of Tapestry no matter what pressures the government brings to bear.

Not knowing whom to trust, or if they can even trust each other, Igloo and Angie must risk everything in the ultimate battle for control of the Internet.

Shortly after I published Avogadro Corp, readers would email me whenever there was news related to AI or other technology in my novels. Over the years, we’ve seen data centers in shipping containers, email auto-replies, and countless new AI developments. In the beginning, I’d blog about each of these, but the pace has been accelerating and lately there are too many to keep up with. Here are a few from recent months:

People kicking robots. Will they never learn?

Microsoft puts a data center at the bottom of the ocean:

Facebook develops Tomo’s PrivacyGuard:

Arming robots with lasers:

The GoogleIO Assistant can make phone calls, impersonate people:

Google’s ELOPe, er, I mean “smart compose”:

Spoofing cell phone tower with software-defined radio:

Facebook as Tomo:

Facebook having nation-state level influence:

Reacting to the Facebook scandals:

Reconstructing speech via laser reflections off a potato chip bag:

What New Pros Need to Know
Caren Gussoff – Moderator
Wesley Chu
Wendy S. Delmater
Rhiannon Held
Lezli Robyn
Note: This is a panel that would have benefitted strongly from the additional perspective of a self-published author. Lots of things brought up are true for both self and trad pubbed authors, but some are different.
  • Intros
    • RH: Was with Tor, now self-publishing 4th book in series, becoming hybrid author. Day job as historical.
    • LR: short story author first, now writing first novel
    • WC: I wrote novels with Angry Robot and Tor. I’m full-time.
    • WD: 25% of what we publish is new authors, 43% women. Helped launch many careers.
  • WD: You grow your career in stages. You’ve never “made it”. Just keep writing.
  • WC: It never gets easier. You think it’s going to be easier once you get your agent, or your first deal. But the pressure just keeps building. Average first-time novelist mades $5,000 in their first year.
  • LR: You can master the art of the short story, and sell them, and realize you can’t make a living off short stories. So then you have to learn a whole new set of skills to go long-form.
  • RH: On the down side: The publisher doesn’t invest much time into a given book. If it doesn’t sell, they just move on, instead of giving it more time to succeed. On the up side: Poor sales doesn’t mean having to use a new pen name. You can keep writing and submit new books under your same name.
  • WC: Let’s talk about what’s in your control.
  • RH: Learn coping skills so that the emotional toll doesn’t wear you down and defeat. I might not be bankrolling big financial rewards, but I am getting confidence from good reviews, etc.
    • good reviews give you a boost that lasts only 10 minutes.
    • bad reviews are downers that last and last.
  • CG: Reviews and feedback are a comment on a work, not your value as a person. You need to separate your career from your person.
  • WD: It takes a lot of discipline for the first few years, because you have to do two jobs: be a writer and have a day job, and be a parent, etc.
  • WC: You work that day job until you just can’t do it anymore. There are some writers who get that first six-figure deal and think that they’re going to quit their day job, and then the stress arrives: they’re writing to eat. And that’s a tough place to be creative.
  • LR: Learn when you are creative, and protect that creative bubble. e.g. I do creative work in the morning before the day job, then do a bit of editing after work, which is more routine. But I am too tired at night to do creative work.
  • WC: Practice your readings. 90% of writers can’t read for shit. They get up, and bore their fans to death. You will do a reading at some point in your career. Edit your piece ahead of time to take out anything that won’t read well. And then practice and make it a performance.
  • RH: The commonly held wisdom is not to read reviews of your work. But I do. I can always imagine a worse review than what is actually written.
    • CG: Whether you decide to read them or not depends on whether you can be emotionally resilient enough to keep working on the next book.
    • WC: You will read the reviews, regardless of the advice. At some point, you will burn out of reading your reviews.
    • RH: My perspective is that reviews are a private conversation that, through a quirk of the internet, we can eavesdrop on. If you heard a private conversation through an open door, you wouldn’t bust in and interrupt the conversation. People say all sorts of things, including many that aren’t true, in private conversations, and we don’t get to interrupt and correct those conversations. So just treat reviews like that.
  • WC: Author Central on Amazon shows bookscan data, and makes that available to every author. But it can vastly underestimate the real numbers. The bookscan sales data is usually 30% of my actual POS numbers.
  • WC: A writer has several revenue streams. I will make the least amount of money from my hardcover sales. Film options, audio, translations. Keep this in mind. Your agent can offer you a lot of ability to tap into these revenue streams.
  • CG: Contracts are complicated. If you don’t have an agent, you need at least to have a good IP lawyer.
  • WC: Don’t sell your books. Sell yourself. Don’t be an asshole.
  • WD: Everybody knows everyone else in this field, so be nice to people.
  • CG: Write excellent stuff.
  • RH: Play to your strength. If you like being on panels, do that. If you like to be in a bar, do that. If you like to tweet, do that every day.

Female Characters in Video Games (Sasquan / Worldcon 2015)
Annalee Flower Horne: science fiction writer, avid gamer of RPGs and old school adventures, also a costumer
Lauren Roy:
Maurine (Mo) Starkey
Tanglwyst de Holloway: avid gamer, costumer who has to make these customers
Andrea G. Stewart (moderator): writer, avid gamer, sister writes mobile games
  • 44% of video game players are women
  • but only 22% of video game developers are women
  • Diablo: ground is made of acid. Each time a woman character drops tunic on ground to give to another, there are less clothes available. but this doesn’t happen to men’s clothes. (apparently men’s nipples much be objectionable)
  • CEO company review of video game  in which male character is violently chopping up female character..sexual violence…but the CEO complains about the fact that greek statues in the background have visible nipples.
  • Female characters in video games are treated with the same tropes as the rest of genre fiction: women are trophies to be won. Even in an example where you can choose to be a woman, you’re still subject to abuse, with the justification of: but if the NPC disrespects you can punch him. But that’s not actually satisfying. What’s satisfying is to not be abused in the first place.
  • Lara Croft:
    • In the original game, she was a cool adventuring women, something of a cypher. So the player can fill in the details. It make her rich and intriguing and fun to imagine.
    • Now, it’s too real. They think they’re going to make the character gritty by soul-raping them. The character is so shattered by the end.
    • If you are going to play a video game, you don’t want a fully realized character. You want a character that the player can put themselves into.
  • If you want to hurt a male character, you hurt his woman. If you want to hurt a female character, you hurt her.
  • Superman principle: he can look down, but he can’t look out. You can make someone look hurt, look tired, but not beaten to a pulp.
  • Anecdote of art direction: had an entire plan for how everything is going to work. Then over the weekend, the male manager takes the guys out for drinks to a men’s club (excluding toe woman art director), and changes everything. When the art comes back, the woman is beaten to a pulp.
  • The real world is often terrible. We need games to be uplifting, not a worse version of reality.
  • Far more dollars are poured into marketing the male focused video games than female-led gamers. As a gamer, vote for your dollars: games by women, games with women leads.
  • Old School
  • Giant Space Cat
  • Gone Home
  • Q: Is there something unique to video games or just the same as the rest of media?
    • essentially the same: example at marvel – manager liked particular art, wanted to hire the artist right away, heard that it was a woman, and then dismissed the art as “draws like a woman” and didn’t hire her.
  • Q: Is recent media awareness now helping? has it made a change?
    • Yes, those 22% female developers are up from 11% in 2009.
    • I tell women we hire to stand their ground, insist on equal pay, equal voice.
    • story of adding male equivalent to princess leia’s slave uniform to mock trope.
    • it’s heartening to have people to have your back and to tell other people “dude, that’s not cool”, when they are being abusive.

NPR Jobs Automation Report

NPR Jobs Automation Report

NPR recently created what they’re calling the definitive guide to which jobs are at risk of being eliminated due to automation. I’ve been researching technological unemployment, and was recently considering a similar assessment. I found myself disagreeing with many of the NPR conclusions.

They concluded there was only an 18% chance of airline pilots jobs being automated, despite the fact that most of a pilot’s tasks are already automated today, and autopilots can take off, navigate, and land just fine. Nearly half of all pilots have fallen asleep mid-flight. If they took a first step of reducing the flight crew from two to one, that’s still 50% of the airline pilot jobs being eliminated. Consider that most of the large planes in the air today would have once been designed for a crew of three, including a flight engineer, and that the flight engineer’s position was eliminated largely through automation and computer controls. I would estimate chance of automation for pilots at 50% or above.

They also concluded there was only a 3% chance of database administrators losing their jobs to automation. What?!?! The last time I worked with a DBA was in 2001. Since then we’ve managed just fine using ORMs and new generations of DB schema migration tools, analysis tools, and generally more friendly and accommodating DB engines, all of which puts 95% of database tasks within everyday reach of software programmers. Sure, DBAs still have their role for more complex situations, where there is no substitute for the knowledge and expertise of an experienced DBA, but this represents maybe 10% of the cases where they once would have been involved. I would estimate chance of automation for DBAs at 80% or above.

They gave elementary and high school teachers a 1% or less chance of being automated, but middle school teachers a 17% chance of being automated. That makes no sense.

Physicians also got a 0.4% chance of being automated, even though IBM’s Watson has already demonstrated it is better at diagnosis than human doctors.

In sum, I think the NPR report is flawed. They have lovely graphics, and a nice tool for exploring, but the data that it’s based on just doesn’t make sense.

From IEEE Spectrum:

Last night, Freightliner introduced the world to its Inspiration truck, a prototype for the first semi-truck capable of fully autonomous highway driving that’s been officially licensed to operate on public highways in Nevada.


Once the truck is on the highway, in daylight during good weather, it can operate without further control from the driver. This is a big deal for trucks, since they typically operate over long distances on the highway, so even this limited autonomous capability represents a good fraction of the total miles driven.




This might be a welcome break for drivers, for now. They’ll be able to do anything they want: watch TV, text, or play games on their phone while the vehicle is in control. On the other hand, how long until the driver isn’t needed at all?

According to this blog post, six million people are employed as professional drivers, including taxi, delivery, truck, and bus. Virtually all of those jobs will evaporate over the next ten to fifteen years.

After several emails and a flood of tweets telling me to go watch Ex Machina, I finally saw it tonight.

If you like the Singularity series, I think you’re definitely going to like Ex Machina. The movie description I found online: “A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.”

I know there’s been a lot of AI movies in the last year or so, but i think Ex Machina is the most cerebral of the bunch, without giving up anything from a storytelling perspective. (In fact, I think writer/director Alex Garland pulls off quite a few great storytelling maneuvers.)

I’m not going to say too much about the movie, as I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I definitely recommend it.