What if? Visions of the Future

Some intriguing and thought-provoking ideas from the BBC. A competition that invites people to submit ideas about what the future might hold for us.

This competition links in appropriately with the Coursera cMooc I recently completed when we looked at utopian and dystopian views of the world, past, present and future; the role that technology has played, plays and will play in the development of the world; the integral role and responsibility that we have in that development in terms of shaping society, societal values, the environment and the way that we live. There are some fascinating suggestions which I will explore in greater depth but one of the things the BBC did was to ask 6 artists to provide images that represented their ideas of the future.

I like Abdoulaye Konate‘s image which he suggests represents the idea that “the future of the world will depend on the attitude mankind decides to adopt. Above all what’s needed is total respect for the environment.”

image of a tapestry which shows strips of green fabric and a cut out silhouette of a person in the bottom right hand corner

Chema Madoz‘ vision is more bleak but a reminder too that we have to take responsibility for the world we live in and take measures to protect what is, after all, our lifeblood.

empty glass with the words "The End" imprinted on the bottom

#edcmooc Determining factors for societal change


Now this is the sort of technology that helps to create a more utopian vision of the future. A “simple” tool that can help detect illnesses in the field so that people can be cured or at least treated. As I said before, I think, practical applications for real context solutions. A tool that can help the people who need it and not just those with the money to afford shiny, pretty things!

Finding this article has got me thinking though about the inequality of access to medical care in the world. Well actually I started to think about if everybody was treated and cured then the world would be vastly overpopulated. The natural order of things; birth, life, death would be upset and where would that lead. But that brought me to the thought that not everyone in the world has cheap and ready access to medical care so the natural order would not be evenly spread around the world. And hasn’t that always been the case? Even in wealthy countries there are those who can afford access to health care, education, legal advice and those who can’t.

Going back to the videos “A day made of glass” and the Microsoft advert, I ask myself who the target audience is. Clearly the “haves” and not the “have nots” of this world. A utopian vision of my world would be where the “have nots” have equal access to education, healthcare, housing, clean water. The technologies that can provide those sorts of things are those that can change the social order, determine how society will be in the future.

Sugata Mitra’ “Hole in the Wall” experiments that provide children with the ability to access education have proved revolutionary.

Malala Yousafzai, the young girl shot in the head by the Taliban has a vision for girls in Pakistan to have access to education without fear of being killed.

It is the desire of people, the soul of people that impels them to create the circumstances, to invent the technology that changes society. The technology alone is not the determining factor.