THE FUTURE A Short Guide to Getting There in One Piece
For as long as I can remember we’ve been mainlining science fiction. Jet planes to exotic destinations. Jet packs on our backs. Miniature wristwatches that we can speak to. Genomics to give us remedies and longer lives. Cyborg augmentation to improve our capacities.
We are living it now. The technologies are incredible – every day we are mining and harvesting new variations of real-life. With the right mentality, we can see this as finding fresh and meaningful human experiences.
“In 2020 a live Travis Scott’s concert was held inside the video game ‘Fortnite’ – 9 million players attended. The set was short – around 15 minutes – it was an experience that could only exist in a virtual space. In real life (IRL) a Travis Scott arena show is an elaborate affair, but you can’t float through the air while a 400-foot rapper walks across an ocean.”
We’ve seen how virtual simulation and augmentation spawn extraordinary applications. They’ve given us new terms and opportunities – augmented, virtual and mixed realities. The application of this is the infinite, real-time and very real world. Global medical procedures, multimedia entertainment, collaborative learning, 3D manufacturing and augmentation, teleconferencing – we’ve only just scratched the surface.
“Half a billion people played ‘Among Us’ in November 2020, the most monthly players for a mobile game – ever. More than Pokémon GO and Candy Crush Saga. Astonishing because InnerSloth, the company that makes ‘Among Us’ has four employees. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) famously live-streamed herself playing it. She did it to encourage people to vote and achieved an audience on the Twitch platform that peaked at over 400 thousand.”
How Did We Get Here?
The future has always relied on dreams. Those who realise their dreams are rare. They have both imagination and the perseverance to make them happen. We need new dreamers. We need to harvest their imaginations and exploit these opportunities.
Why are so many of us afraid to use our imagination? Is it the failure of education to provide the tools to exploit it? We are afraid of our dreams because of the responsibility that begins in them. Without the tools to leverage our imagination, we will always undermine our dreams. We cannot afford that.
Futurists dream – they anticipate the big ideas. Science fiction writers develop stories that inspire us and bring concepts to real life. Technology accelerates unpredictable surprises.
“In 1945 Vannevar Bush described the ‘Memex’ – a single device to store all books, records and communications – accessible by fully automated association. It entered the consciousness and two decades later came ‘hypertext’ and then another couple of decades came the World Wide Web. Then enter the era of streaming. The first streaming video was more than 25 years ago but the wars are happening now. Literally an infinite supply of content, on-demand playback, interactivity, dynamic personalization – converging content with distribution.”
Although we can see the bits – the components of technology, infrastructure and communications we don’t know where this goes next. The features the audiences want are impossible to guess. We can’t foretell the business models, which experiences matter, we don’t understand the societal or competitive dynamics that will trigger the shifts.