When we look at the road lying ahead of us, it can feel that we’re heading into a future that is set to be an increasingly inhospitable one for humankind.
The speed of change around the world seems to be accelerating. Nationalism, populism and anti-establishment sentiment is on the rise, inequalities are increasing and climate scenarios are growing ever more apocalyptic. The web of surveillance capitalism seems to be expanding, infiltrating more and more of the few private spaces in our lives, and public trust in our democratic institutions is at an all-time low.
But change also brings hope and optimism, too. We stand on the frontier of exciting new possibilities, from advances in technology and the ways we can make use of data, to new ways of harnessing the power of citizens to tackle some of the world's greatest challenges.
These are trends that may have been playing out over many years, but there’s a sense these factors will be impacting the way we live, work and relate to each other much sooner than we might have expected.
But the future isn’t set in stone. There are many possible futures that we can create for ourselves – but only if we have the tools to navigate towards the future that we want.
That’s why it’s time to start creating a survival kit for our species, with the tools and coping strategies we need to reset the clock on doomsday and shape a better future. We need to be asking ourselves: what do we want to take forward into the future with us? What are the skills, tools and understanding we will need not just to survive, but to thrive in the years following 2020?
In March 2020, FutureFest invites you to explore your own survival kit, through an exciting mix of discussions, debates, performances and immersive installations. At Nesta, we believe that by talking about the future we enhance people’s capacity to shape it. So we created FutureFest to explore how the big challenges of our time could be tackled by empowering people to shape the future for themselves.
At FutureFest, you’ll be able to explore what kind of survival kit you might need for the future. This won’t mean equipping you with a Swiss army knife and a tent; instead your survival kit might contain ideas and strategies to help you thrive and it might be a result of asking what, as a society, we will need to nurture.
It might mean knowing how we can bridge the widening gaps between generations; or how we can collectively grieve for a dying world; or how to counter rising nationalism with the tools to break out of echo chambers, mobilise and protest. It might mean asking questions like, is our health and safety more important than our privacy?
The installations, talks, experiences and performances that will help you build our survival kit include headlining act Richard Ayoade, the writer, director, actor, presenter and comedian (plus amateur dentist), on how to foster creativity and originality in an increasingly homogenised and metric-led world. Or hear from Gail Bradbrook, founder of the Extinction Rebellion, who will reveal how to grow the fastest-growing environmental organisation in the world. David Lammy, Member for Parliament and author of Tribes will explore how our need to belong can make or break society, and novelist and political scientist Elif Shafak will consider the future of democracy in Europe.
If you need a moment of calm, climb inside Loop.ph’s Osmo, a giant metallic sphere that invites you to switch off from the digital world and gaze at over 3,000 chartered planets and stars. Or come to immersive theatre maker ZU:UK’s binaural dinner date to connect with others, where a voice in your ear will guide you through a conversation with a stranger.
We’ll be announcing more exciting speakers and experiences soon so watch this space for more about how FutureFest 2020 will help you build your survival kit.
Image: Loop PH. Climb inside the Osmo experience at FutureFest