The future starts here

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I was excited to see a new exhibition at the V&A called The Future Starts Here.

It’s a collection of new technologies, creatively displayed with a central thought-provoking question: are things getting better or worse for humanity?

The section on The Self showed ways in which we are augmenting the realities of our minds and homes. Here you find familiar smart home devices, such as Amazon’s Alexa, and less familiar designs, including a mirror that detects your facial expression to predict your feelings. I have a healthy amount of scepticism towards the idea of connecting everything in my home to the Internet, which this only added to!

The exhibition looks at the topic of whether our connectivity is making us happier. I was struck by design prototypes of tables for one, created so that people feel more comfortable dining alone in restaurants. On one hand, that’s great. On the other, you can imagine a room full of people sitting alone and staring at their phones. Which is scary.

The section called Public has examples of smart cities around the world and showcases the design of buildings and transport systems. It questions the role of democracy and highlights recent events that have led us to question our national identities (Hello Brexit).

You can also sit in a self-driving car. The car seems intent on taking your mind off the journey by chatting to you about cake shops. It’s pretty surreal.

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The other two sections, Planet and Afterlife, prompt more reflection on what we are doing with our time on Earth.

An exhibit allowing you to reshape topography with your hands was fun and therapeutic. But it does serve to remind us how much we are changing our planet. And how much we can mess up nature by being heavy-handed.

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All in all, an enjoyable waltz through lots of ideas. On until 4th November 2018.

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