What Life Will Be Like In 2050
Print-out clothes; your iPhone in your eyeballs; good citizenship turned into a game with reward points…these all sound horrifying yet wonderful at the same time. According to a report written by the trend forecasters at Right Angle Studios, to mark the release of Total Recall – the remake set in a dystopic year 2099 – on DVD and Blu-Ray, they could be the hallmarks of the future. Especially since, you know, the world didn't end the other day.
Right Angle Studios is headed by the creator of The Thousands, Barrie Barton: ideas man, futurist and expert on city living. TheVine picked his brains about the Australia 2050 Report – A New Reality, a report put together with thoughts from other clever clogs from City of Sydney, Arup, The Future Laboratory, TEDx and Google.
What was the brainstorming process like for this report? How much was imagination and how much inspiration did you take straight from 2012?
A lot of trend forecasting involves comparing the past to the present and then extending the 'trend lines' to predict what is going to happen in the future. So we started by actually looking backwards and thinking how have things changed to this present day - that's the research part. Then we spent a lot of time thinking and speaking to a bunch of smart people about what might happen in the future - that's the imagination part.
A key idea in the report is that entertainment will become no longer “a way to escape our problems, but a way to fix them”. Where did you get the inspiration for that school of thought?
In the future a lot of entertainment will be game based and involve communities instead of individuals. There will always be movies that you just watch, but increasingly the model will be entertainment, where you are immersed as a participant and can control the entertainment...a bit like the old 'choose your own adventure' books. You'll be required to think and to make choices. That presents a lot of interesting opportunities to get people to learn much more and learning is what helps us fix things.
If that’s the case, and aspects of everyday life and responsibilities – from housework to community projects – can be turned into “games” with points or monetary rewards, isn’t that kind of cynical? Shouldn’t people be motivated to do good deeds out of the goodness of their hearts?
The sad truth is that we aren't necessarily motivated to do good deeds out of the goodness of our hearts. So if we can't rely on the goodness of our own hearts we have a choice to use punishment or incentives to help make people do good things. There is a lot of behavioural economics research that points to the fact that we respond better to incentives than punishment and gamifying applies that principle by rewarding people as they go - it's like finding a mushroom in Super Mario but in your real life.
What will happen to fashion when you can print out an outfit while you’re doing your hair?
That's an interesting question. People get really excited about 3D printers and it's widely expected that every home will have one by 2050. They'll be able to print many objects in many materials. On one hand it's great that you can simply download a pattern and print out what you need - but what would a designer feel like in a world where people can simply rip off her pattern and print them out at home? Maybe she'd feel like a musician whose music has been stolen online.
The “digital-free blackbox” idea sounds like a godsend – why include that?
The digital-free blackbox is a space that doesn't allow any digital connection - you are off the grid. It may be a room in your house, a capsule or an entire building. We included that because any point in time has competing ideas. You can bet that if the future is going to be super-connected and high speed, it will also have room for the complete opposite.
Can you please make my bus as fast as a bullet train? And a double shot latte in five minutes, no sugar. Thanks.
Why don't you just print your latte at home? Food printers already exist in protoype stage...imagine what that might do to help stamp out famine.