Do you want to know where the world is heading? The V&A Museum examines the emerging technologies of today and delves into the big question that’s on everyone’s lips: what does the future hold? One of our London Roosters, Devon, took a trip over to South Kensington to scope out what’s really in store for us all.
Here are the top four questions you can expect to have posed by ‘The Future Starts Here’ technology exhibition.
Does Democracy still work?
In 2016, the unexpected results of the UK’s referendum on EU membership and the US presidential election revealed the extent of modern divisions in politics. Also revealed was that a social bot has been designed to influence public opinion on certain political matters. This software program is designed to mimic human behaviour on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Instagram, helping to increase the following and interaction on certain channels that choose to receive attention from the masses. More specifically, politicians, militaries and government-contracted firms tend to use these automated bots.
Our opinions are now being manipulated to help boost politicians’ follower levels and promote disingenuous impressions of popularity.
In 2010 Norway was faced with the challenge of making its voting process more appealing, the electoral experience was then redesigned for the better. The old polling stations were criticised for their inaccessibility – ballots were unreachable for wheelchair users, and visually impaired people needed assistance to cast their vote. The ballot and booth system were redesigned to be clearer.
However, further recent declines in voter turnout suggest there are limits to what design can do for democracy – we should all take note and create voting systems which are designed for all.
Should the Planet be a Design Project?
With years of burning fossil fuels, polluting the oceans and pushing plant and animal species to the brink of extinction, our behaviour has unintentionally designed the Earth. But can we use technology to reverse the actions that have affected the planet?
Some brilliant designers are working hard to come up with ideas to clean, restore and repair this broken planet we call our home. Tellart created a sand pit for learning, which teaches all generations about how we can redesign the planet for the better. This pit allows you to play with topography as an interactive experience, sensing the levels of sand – as a mound gets higher it turns dark green to represent land, while the deeper areas turn a shade of blue to represent the ocean.
This not only lets you ‘play God’ but teaches you the values and quality of nature on the Earth.
Who Wants to Live Forever?
Advances in biotechnology and artificial intelligence now promise to radically extend our lifespans. The idea of uploading your mind onto a floppy disc used to be the stuff of fiction, but hold tight because pioneering research in this field is currently in progress (Charlie Brooker might be onto something).
For now the majority of us who want to secure a longer life try to do so through the likes of health supplements. Ray & Terry’s Longevity products were developed in 2017, by Ray Kurzweil who is the author of Singularity is Near. The man himself takes 100 of his pills a day in effort to extend his life to reach Singularity, claiming “you can stay young until we have even more knowledge to become even more younger”. He believes with the evolution of technology we can extend the capabilities of humans, and ultimately reach immortality.
Is our future already in the past?
The V&A also explores the history of technology, so we thought we’d throw a quiz question your way.
At roughly what date did wearable technology emerge?
If you answered AD 300-400, help yourself to a sticker on the way out. A ring doubling as a key was often worn by ancient Romans, so they would always have them to hand. Although today this is not seen as a piece of technology, for the time it was almost revolutionary, as it provided ease to everyday life – most of what the tech of today is striving to achieve.
Moving onto the world’s fastest swimsuit, The Fastskin LZR Racer X Women’s Swimsuit by Speedo. This is a high-tech costume that improves performance by reducing drag and compressing the wearer’s muscles to lessen fatigue. The full-length version, however, was banned from all competitions following the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where 98% of the medals were won by swimmers wearing the suit. It has been described as “technological doping”. The big question that remains unanswered is how should this technology be used? We’re saving ours for the Hunger Games.
Would you trust a driverless car? This concept has been hotly anticipated ever since we saw the cars from Fifth Element (but they fly, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves). The Sedric Concept Car from Volkswagen was made in 2016 and this model imagines how a driverless car’s interior might be designed so that passengers can sleep on the way to work or get some last-minute work done while travelling.
This technology could lead to possibilities that transform the structure of the city and change the way in which humans and machines communicate and interact. The likes of Google and Waymo are making this happen right now – we just hope they remember the nap-friendly interior.
Don’t mess with robots
Technology moves so quickly, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the latest inventions. Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, even said “robots will be smarter than us in 2045.” 16 years prior to this he believes “AI will pass a valid Turing test and therefore achieve human levels of intelligence.”
As technology evolves, so do we, and this is an ever-changing planet we’re living on. We say embrace some of the new and exciting technologies of the world, but that doesn’t give you permission to tell a robot to make your coffee in the morning; we’ll leave that up to our client Barisieur. Just remember the future we receive is up to us. And then up to the robots.
If you would like to catch this exhibition it will be running until Sunday, 4th November 2018. So go, soak up some culture!