Being involved with science and technology and working with many technology
companies, we regularly encounter thinking about futures, especially about
“The Future.” Usually it is concerned with predicting or forecasting the
future, sometimes it is about new trends and identifying weak signals that can
be extrapolated into the near future, but it is always about trying to pin the
future down. This is something we are absolutely not interested in; when it
comes to technology, future predictions have been proven wrong again and
again. In our view, it is a pointless activity. What we are interested in,
though, is the idea of possible futures and using them as tools to better
understand the present and to discuss the kind of future people want, and, of course, ones people do not want. They usually take the form of scenarios,
often starting with a what-if question, and are intended to open up spaces of
debate and discussion; therefore, they are by necessity provocative,
intentionally simplified, and fictional. Their fictional nature requires viewers
to suspend their disbelief and allow their imaginations to wander, to
momentarily forget how things are now, and wonder about how things could be.
We rarely develop scenarios that suggest how things should be because it
becomes too didactic and even moralistic. For us futures are not a destination
or something to be strived for but a medium to aid imaginative thought—to
speculate with. Not just about the future but about today as well, and this is
where they become critique, especially when they highlight limitations that
can be removed and loosen, even just a bit, reality’s grip on our imagination.