by Stéphane Magnenat
When I was mildly scene/emo in high school, I used to listen to Motion City Soundtrack's "The Future Freak Me Out" on repeat*. Because it's true: the future does freak me out--not my personal future, but the future of the world at large.
The dawn of the I, Robot Age is queued on our cultural horizon, due to the blind march towards progress. I just worry about the ramifications for mankind. With the onset of a complete digital age, will we lose track of what being human means?
On February 27, MoMA's Architecture & Design senior curator, Paola Antonelli, was a guest on The Colbert Report, which I caught on rerun last night. She spoke in-depth on, "the idea that in the future, design will go the way of physics: [there will be] theoretical design and applied design." What she means by this is that the concepts and technologies that used to be confined to the sci-fi genre will no longer be fiction. In many ways, we have already embarked on this path.
Regarding technological advancements of the future, Colbert mockingly asks: "We've got two different sizes of iPad, aren't we done?" Antonelli explains that, "The idea is to make the iPad disappear...The true Holy Grail"is to make everything disappear so that you can just be in things, in the interfaces."
That's a step beyond the prototype retinal sticker gadgets -- Google Glass--that debuted at Google I/O in June 2012 (Apple is supposedly working on a similar, competitive project).
Again, I ask, to what end does all this progress serve?
When I picture the marriage of man & robot, my stomach gets uneasy, which is an understandable reflex to the unnatural. But even though the idea scares me, I'd like to think that if it does happen, it wouldn't be a negative thing.
This is when I turn to the esoteric for guidance. At the end of 1999, well-known astrologer, Susan Miller, made her forecast for the new millennium. A lot of the predictions she made have come to fruition (the link is at the bottom if you want to check it out). The Age of Aquarius Technically started in 2000, as Miller explains, "Since the earth is moving in retrograde motion, we have just left the Age of Pisces, which marked the years 1-2000 AD." Some say that the Age of Aquarius didn't officially start until 12/12/12, which heralded a paradigm shift in human consciousness.
Before 2012, the Age of Pisces overlapped the Age of Aquarius. To understand the character of the signs and ages more, Miller tells us: "Pisces says, "I believe,' whereas Aquarius, the age we are in now, says, "Prove it to me scientifically.'" That sounds accurate to me. Miller predicts that during this age, " The Internet will begin to function as neurons do in the human brain." This brings visions of a dystopian future, like those presented in Brave New World or Battlestar Galactica. My worries are both quelled and amplified when Miller goes on to explain that:
Aquarius is visionary and creative, but rebellious, too. Aquarius' job is to challenge authority, tear down existing structures, and replace the outdated with something better. Thus, Aquarius can be capable of great extremes. This sign acts in rather sudden and unexpected ways, thanks to being ruled by Uranus, the p lanet of surprise.
But my initial pangs of nausea subside because it's important to remember that, "Aquarius is a sign that is socially responsible," so I do believe that there's hope.
The key to anything in life is to proceed with caution--with consciousness--and the best possible outcome will manifest itself.
(*Actually that song is a bad example because it's cheery & upbeat, but it does vibrate with anxiety.)