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FutureFest 2015 Highlights: Day 2

By Forster Communications

27 March 2015
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Forster is constantly scoping trends and developments in technology that shape the way we communicate with each other, to ensure we’re keeping abreast of opportunities for our clients and the people’s lives we’re all working to protect and improve. Nesta’s FutureFest 2015 was recently held in London, and we were there to learn and emerge ourselves in the world of ‘futurethinking’. Here’s what we found…

Day 2: Politics and Future Society

During a gloomy weekend in London, I had a glimpse into the future. Nesta’s FutureFest 2015, a weekend festival envisaging coming trends, bringing together science, politics, art – and sentient robots – in a fantastical celebration of possibility.

London Bridge’s Vinopolis was an appropriately labyrinthine venue, playing host to immersive installations and exhibits alongside talks and discussions from various futurists, inventors, and academics.

The day began with journalist and author Owen Jones’ discussion around the ‘Politics of Hope’. Although Jones acknowledged that there’s a great deal to be gloomy about when it comes to the UK’s political situation, he called for a reframing of our thinking, challenging our inherent cynicism and complacency. Not all of the solutions he put forward were quite tangible enough to provide hope in abundance – he spoke a great deal about attitude and outlook as opposed to specific actions – but his passion was infectious.

There was a great deal of discussion on the day around internet and data security, from Primavera de Filippi’s chilling talk ‘Orwellian Vision of the Present’ – which hinted that certain dystopian visions could be in danger of becoming reality – to a panel discussion featuring highlights from a video hangout with Edward Snowden. Snowden’s analysis of governmental attitudes towards data security was insightful without being alarmist but he perhaps provoked more questions than he did answer them.

A personal highlight was the entertainingly erudite Jon Ronson’s talk on robots in America, accompanied by footage of creations that included ‘Bina48’, a robot ‘alter-ego’ of Bina Rothblatt, a real woman whose memories and experiences have been patterned onto a digital ‘mindfile’ in an attempt to construct a cyber-consciousness. While most of Bina48’s interactions are factual and ‘Siri-like’, there was an amazing recording of her recalling a childhood memory of her physical counterpart.  Ronson’s talk was a powerful demonstration of the fact that what most of us deem to belong to a far-off future could already be more of a reality than we might think.

Read our Day 1 Highlights here.

FutureFest 2015 by Nesta is an all-weekend festival of innovation, future-thinking, debates, presentations and demonstrations from an eclectic and highly imaginative group of change-makers. For more information visit www.nesta.org.uk/.