Friday, September 27, 2013

Futurist Friday: Artifacts of the Future

What artifacts will history museums of the future collect, and how will we interpret them?

Scenarios—fictional stories of potential futures—can help us imagine how we would adapt to alternative outcomes. Often scenarios can be found in popular literature, videos, or movies. One category of scenarios I particularly love is “artifacts of the future”—mock-ups of tangible evidence that dramatize essential characteristics of potential futures. Think, for example, of the artifacts the Pinky Show cats collected during their time travel expedition to future museums, and exhibited at the 2010 AAM annual meeting. Or the great site “History of the Future in 100 Objects” by Adrian Hon.

Your Futurist Friday assignment: watch this 4 minute video, in which an interpreter at a history museum of the future guides visitors through an exhibit documenting the rise and fall of the Invisibility Cloak in the 21st century. (Added incentive: it’s funny.)

As the video and related interview point out, scenarios like this push us to think about the ethical implications of technologies we may be developing now. Getting ahead of the curve on thinking about ethics—that’s a good thing.

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