The Fu­ture Lab­o­ra­tory’s new mi­crosite opens up the find­ings of its an­nual fo­rum to all, and brands should take note

Computer Arts - - Contents - www.the­fu­ture­lab­o­ra­ choose-your-fu­tures

The Fu­ture Lab­o­ra­tory’s fu­ture-proof find­ings, as re­vealed on their brand new mi­crosite

This Oc­to­ber, The Fu­ture Lab­o­ra­tory's third an­nual Global Fu­tures Fo­rum con­vened in Lon­don to prompt, pro­voke and in­spire fu­ture in­no­va­tion. Bring­ing to­gether a range of ex­perts – from AI ethi­cists and smart city plan­ners to men­tal health prac­ti­tion­ers – it was an ideas sym­po­sium where TFL's orig­i­nal think­ing and re­search com­bined with ex­ter­nal ex­perts.

The day was bro­ken down into four dis­tinct ‘tracks': the fu­ture of brand pur­pose; fu­ture of gen­der; fu­ture of well­be­ing; and fu­ture of youth. These be­came the base of the newly launched Choose Your Fu­tures mi­crosite. “The premise of the site was to open the con­ver­sa­tion to the pub­lic,” ex­plains TFL's art di­rec­tor Alek­san­dra Szy­man­ska, “with a di­ver­sity of vis­ual el­e­ments – pho­tog­ra­phy, video and il­lus­tra­tion, and a se­ries of ty­po­graphic an­i­ma­tions com­mis­sioned by Nikita Iziev, to rep­re­sent each track."

As well as the easy nav­i­ga­tion, “the site teases out the key ques­tions

that brands and con­sumers should be ask­ing them­selves at this mo­ment in time,” says Szy­man­ska. “It also acts as a snap­shot of the think­ing pre­sented at our event. Ab­sorb­ing all of the con­tent on the day can be po­ten­tially over­whelm­ing, so the site pro­vides a plat­form the at­ten­dees can fur­ther ex­plore the themes.”

The first track in­ves­ti­gates con­sumers' de­sires for brands with pur­pose in re­la­tion to their drive for in­no­va­tion. “We're see­ing tra­di­tional moral frame­works of re­li­gion and fam­ily de­clin­ing,” says TFL's ed­i­to­rial di­rec­tor Tim Noakes, “and brands and con­sumers reeval­u­at­ing the power of in­no­va­tion and the need for a moral code fit for a dig­i­tal era.

“Along­side the wor­ry­ing rise of na­tion­al­ism in global pol­i­tics, there is also huge in­vest­ment in tech­nolo­gies like AI," he con­tin­ues. "As we be­come more aware of the bi­ases that black box al­go­rithms are forc­ing on so­ci­ety, techno-op­ti­mism is wan­ing, leav­ing in its wake a de­sire to re­cal­i­brate our moral com­pass and imbed both in­tegrity and col­lec­tive eth­i­cal codes of con­duct into new tech­nolo­gies.”

So will un­eth­i­cal brands be os­tracised in the fu­ture? “If brands don't em­bed a trusted moral com­pass at the heart of what they do, their con­sumer base will mi­grate to­wards busi­nesses that do,” he tells us. “So, yes, they will be os­tracised and ul­ti­mately crum­ble."

With gen­der equal­ity on pay pre­dicted to be achieved by 2059, TFL also wanted to ad­dress “the mind­set shifts that need to take place over the next decade to make sure that hu­mans are judged and re­warded on their mer­its, not sex,” says Noakes. A sin­gle so­lu­tion isn't the aim. In­stead a range of ar­eas – from brands help­ing men build bet­ter emo­tional in­tel­li­gence to bring­ing more women to the de­ci­sion mak­ing ta­ble – is ex­plored.

All tracks are in­ter­con­nected, but with Gen Z cur­rently start­ing full-time em­ploy­ment, its ex­pec­ta­tions and ap­proach to brands will play a big part in shap­ing the fu­ture. “Teens are in a state of flux,” says Noakes, “but rather than suc­cumb­ing to pas­siv­ity, Gen Z is in­tent on set­ting a new ac­tivism-in­spired agenda – one whose im­pact and in­flu­ence is be­ing felt around the world. This new emerg­ing mind­set will come to af­fect all the other ar­eas and de­mo­graph­ics shown on the mi­crosite... It's go­ing to be ex­cit­ing to see how the world changes as a re­sult of their anx­i­ety re­bel­lion!”

All im­ages by Nikita Iziev for the Global Fu­tures Fo­rum

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