Week 2: Looking to the future – A Recap
Following last week’s recap here’s the one for Week 2.
Note: Due to personal undertakings it is shorter than the previous.
Both of these films feature a clearly utopian future as imagined by the Brands – Corning and Microsoft. Seamlessly integrated in everyday life and every other object is the ‘Internet of things’. This concept is pushed as a way of ‘getting things done’, ease life and stress and also something that is social, democratized and unavoidable/inevitable. This resonates with Seek 1’s Technological Determinism and it’s ‘technological imperative’ – this time around, presented by companies, the makers and enforcers that wish to stir society’s future on the path they think it’s best.
Communication on both these videos is facilitated and brought ‘closer’ to people. It brings a bit of humanity that may or may not be lacking in some of the ways we use today (think texting and IM chats), apparently eliminating the alienating effect technology can have on [some] people.
Such closeness between peers and between people and tech is best seen on the educational aspects presented on the video by Corning. Youngsters are learning and discovering new things through interactivity, experimentation and augmented reality (on the field trip). On Microsoft’s it’s via Gamification – you can even see the ‘Homework Points’ achieved. Both of them feature tablet like devices as opposed to pen and paper – which can have a great impact on sustainability and ecology if you think about the annual waste that can originate from that – and there’s no chalkboard either, it’s all ‘new tech’. Maybe this is one of the most significant changes that might occur in the future and lead to questions such as ‘how does this impacts some economies and markets?’, ‘How healthy it is such technological dependence?’ or ‘what will happen to calligraphy?’.
«Sight» – http://vimeo.com/46304267
This is a much scarier vision of the technological future. ‘Sight’ presents a chilling problem that could very well emerge from the dark side of tech. It involves themes such as addiction, privacy, moral and ethics but most importantly dehumanization.
‘There’s and App for that’ fits wonderfully in the world of ‘Sight’. By the use of special contact lenses and again an ‘Internet of Things’, one can do amazing things and see beyond the conventional and into exciting new [personalized] worlds. Even furniture and decoration are physically inexistent and are perceived through the lenses. This may be perceived as utopian.
However, during the date dystopian signs start to show namely the background check that is done. This is already happening – to a lesser extent – nowadays and people are being fired or looked down on because of stuff they put on social networks. The young people today and future generations will have much more embarrassing ‘skeletons in their closet’ to deal with than their ancestors. This can deeply affect future human relations and identity issues.
The ending seals the deal with the man hacking into the woman’s profile. But it does more than that – it paralyzes her, it actually hacks into her ‘conscience’ or brain. One is left to imagine what happens next and left wondering how far will we let technology control us (in terms of social-cultural behaviors) and control our bodies… It is said that ‘the eyes are the mirror of the soul’ and in this movie it is a very unpleasant soul we can see mirrored in the protagonist’s eyes and can’t help thinking about how many people like this are ‘out there’, hiding behind masks and avatars, helped by technological advances.
«Charlie 13» – http://futurestates.tv/episodes/charlie-13%20
‘Charlie 13’ is a short film in which the North American Union has taken place and everyone is tagged. My view of this is dystopic – it’s a fear enforced future, people tagged, watched and controlled, a system that can deem people ‘incompatible’ with each other. There’s a bit of ‘The Stepford Wives’ in it – a city controlled, apparently calm and hassle free.
Then there’s the ‘Deserters’ that live outside the cities perimeters and are hinted to be like pirates. Charlie eventually finds out that his dad is alive and is one of them. They are the resistance and the alternative to the strict society. To me it rhymed with a scene from the movie ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ when Winston looks through the window to a fat old lady singing and says “The future is hers. We are the dead.” – it is that mix of feelings Charlie must have felt when he decided to disobey to wander outside and find his dad.
«Plurality» – http://youtu.be/IzryBRPwsog
A very cool short that brings the [recurring] theme of an Orwellian society – strict and surveyed. This is perhaps the dystopian future most people envision for some reason. It has however a nice twist – time travel! It boosts the consequences even further: the future gets worse if people keep following that path. The questions it brings are not new but it’s certainly entertaining to watch.
I haven’t had the time to read Cory Doctorow’s novel Little Brother so I can’t comment on the implications a ‘Grid’ like the one depicted could have on education. I can only imagine how it can be limiting, inclined towards restrictive standards and killing creativity – many argue the current system or systems already do such.
All in all a quote can sum it up:
“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin