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O Magazine

  Signs from the near future  

By Fernando Barbella

Futurist predictions in technology can be exciting or downright scary. Here are some exercises on what we can expect to see in the near future on a daily basis.

I’ve been reading lots of articles and news lately related with innovation in science and technology; nanomedicine is one area experiencing rapid and dramatic growth nowadays, neuroscientists are making real progress in finding ways to read people’s minds with machines, companies like Google, Ford, Volvo and Audi are making great efforts to launch some autonomous cars in a couple of years or guys from here and there are guys experimenting with 3D food printers. New materials, mashups between living organisms and nanotechnologies, improved capabilities for formerly “dumb” and inanimate things… There a zillion things going on around us!

And all these advances can be as exciting as disturbing, if we think about it. The fact is all these things are going to cease being just “projects” to became part of our reality at any time soon…

Our relation with new technologies and all things digital, is something worth studying it. We never had so much access to so many resources in history like nowadays. The fact that new technologies gave us the opportunity to exploit our potential is undeniable and undoubtedly the democratization of the internet gave us people a lot of opportunities to improve as a society by establishing bondings and relationships with our neighbors and other cultures.

But, at the same time, it seems that there’s some kind of status quo worried about the reach of our acts and thoughts when accessing and using all kind of both mainstream and emerging technologies: concerns about privacy, big data discussions everywhere, ethics conflicts when thinking about how much science can be mixed…

So, I chose to show these upcoming advances coexisting with very common places and environments, with this kind of dystopian look and feel given by the signaling and iconic language, cause at the end of the day, the future always is very similar to the present. (Well, it’s 2016 already and cars are not flying on a regular basis –yet– and the clothes we are using are far from what the sci-fi movies showed us many times).

Regarding the signs, well, like any other time in recent history, while all these new technologies emerge, we will need some help and directions for sure, in order to speed up our learning curves. Remember the first time you have to program a VCR? Or what about the time you set up your first smartphone?

Last but not least, I deployed these signs in ordinary places, featuring instructions and warnings because I feel that as we increasingly depend on technology, we will probably have less space for individual judgment to make decisions. That’s why we better get used to them… What do you think about it?