At a certain point in humanity’s evolution, the environment changed at a very slow pace. Different generations had lived more or less identical lives. However, we currently inhabit a world of far-reaching technological expansion where borders have become increasingly blurred leading to a gradual scattering of social groups. Our sense of identity, whether it be nationality, currency or language have been increasingly dematerialised and disrupted by this process. A consideration into these various social, political and economic borders, their presence and their implications, is pivotal in understanding the methods and means of futurology.
Yet within the confines of a fear economy, the ‘in-group, out-group psychology’ is rooted within our evolutionary past (Ivanova 2014). What previously stood as an adaptive cognitive process that assisted our decision-making and rapid evaluation is now viewed as a collective shortcoming surrounding stereotyping, discrimination and antagonism. Basking in present-day riches, Gilliland asserts that we are operating on ‘outdated software,’ using primitive brains within a technologically sophisticated society (Gilliland 2015). Instead, the objective should be to transcend beyond the limitations of herd mentality in order to become acquainted with the global community. Hence it is no longer ‘us and them,’ but rather just all of us.
In lieu of collective evolution, information technology has stepped into the forefront as the key contributor in the rapid externalisation of the border (Wilson & Weber 2008). In a time when consumers have become increasingly suspicious of online tracking, Rudder makes a compelling argument in Dataclysm that the information gained from vestiges of an individual’s digital data is possibly as valuable as it is malignant, and as enlightening as it may be unnerving. For instance, a poll in a survey by the matchmaking website OkCupid showed that although 94% of users stated that racism was a relationship deal-breaker, the statistics show that white users were in comparison more inclined to date within their own race.
Rather, in directing our efforts into our own conscious evolution to overcome these inadequacies, we are able to strategically design an environment capable of tolerating this exponential pace of change. The Venus Project is an organisation that proposes the idea of new world governance based on the utopian realisation of a collective resource-based economy. Advocating for a ‘peaceful and sustainable global civilsation,’ the organisation presents an alternative vision for humanity directed by our shared technology and resources towards a full redesign of our cultural narratives.
As science fiction provides a foundation for visualising and reflecting on the prospects of the future, it suggests a holistic, adaptable, and varied awareness conveyed through a narrative and designed practice (Lomardo 2014). We look to sympathise with characters that are just like us, inherently flawed. Caesar in the Planet of the Apes, Game of Throne’s Tyrion Lannister and Blade Runner’s Roy Batty, in their humanity, their endeavours give them existential quality, asking us what it means to exist. However, this digital age of emancipatory storytelling confronts the challenge of envisioning a future of hope for the conscious mind within today’s dark pessimism and malaise (Kasunic 2015).
Left: Caesar (Fox), Tyrion Lannister (HBO) & Roy Batty (WarnerBros)
As design is sanctioned as the designing of things in action, we begin to notice that in many ways ‘we rule by technology’s grace, and in other ways it rules by ours’ (Fry 1999). In redirecting the conversation, we should liken technology to an environment where the concept of scarcity is contextual, reminding us of Diamandis’ infinite life of possibilities within an age of abundance.
*with reference to Big Data
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Peter Diamandis: abundance is our future, 2012, video, TED, California.
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