The Future of (Futuring About) Wearable Tech

I was planning to write this text much earlier, soon after I finished my short ‘field report’ about the WoW gathering in Eindhoven. Alas, things started to move a bit slower on this side. Anyway, it is ready now, even if in a very condense form, so read (and look at it) below.

As I wrote earlier, I was offered an opportunity to talk about the ‘future of everything’: of women, fashion, and yes, {smart} wearables, too. The only real constrain was that 1. it should be very short and 2. it shouldn’t be a ‘slideshow’ but a real conversation (itself a gross challenge these days!)

Following our approach at Summ()n, I didn’t plan, of course, to present yet another set of ‘trends’ accompanied with a few freakish pictures (a common currency of future gurus these days). Instead I thought to suggest a conversation about the very way we do our futuring, i.e., thinking about, imagining and eventually making the futures that we want. Following the constrains, I decided to bring with me not the ‘digital slides’, but some real (analogue!) artefacts to talk about.

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Does AI have a future? Does our future exist with AI?

One of those extremely interesting projects that we can tell very little about. We’ve been asked to prepare and run a Future Probing session for a large Dutch bank (which is very interesting itself), and also about AI (which is extremely interesting, since it’s one of the hottest technologies of today. It may have tremendous impact on many sides of our life (and yet right now is often diminished to the trivial talks about whether (or when) it will kill humanity.

Anyway.

We followed our proven approached and collected a wide variety of the ‘future signals’, not only from the core technological domains, but also from the ‘neighbouring’ areas, such as new media and even interactive art. We were happy to see that the client team has produced a lot of their own ‘signals’, too, and at the end we have created a truly ‘future thinking’ space, filled with information and inspirations.

But this was only a part of the process: the next stage was to convert all these ‘future glimpses’ into more articulated ‘future worlds’ and then produce a range of ‘future probes’, to test our ideas about these futures of AI.

I had to ‘pixelate’ the images from the first stage, and have to do even more hiding and diffusing with the results of the second part. The may look funny and toyish, but in reality they contain pretty serious ideas about possible development of the new services and products (as well as new partnerships to realise them.)

Robot’s Revolt & Russian Energy Grid

The conjunction of the two subjects in the title of this post, of the Russian energy grids and revolting robots, does not imply something like ‘against’ or ‘versus’, or even ‘in’. It should rather be read as ‘at’ – and not even at the electric grid itself, but at the annual industry forum held in Moscow.

I was invited to join an expert discussion with a rather intriguing name: “The Internet of Things: Robots’ Revolt or Decent Future of Humanity” (the subtitle was ‘What skills do we need to develop for the future?)

The scope of the discussion is obviously very wide – but the was the expertise of the panel, ranging from engineers to managers, from thinkers about the futures to science-fiction writers. Together we concluded that the revolt of robots is not very likely (though the fears of such may cause harm), but new thinking about the potential of smart, connected technologies is needed very urgently.