Featuring: The Future

The second season of FUTURESTATES has been released, a film series featuring visions and stories of the “not-too-distant future.” Participants imagined narratives based on scenarios such as extreme climate change with environmental refugees, gated communities that regulate the genetic makeup of their offspring, and the proliferation of software that charts our likes and dislikes, “creeping into the human heart and soul.” J.P. Chan’s “Digital Antiquities” tells the tale of a man with a cryptic old device (a CD) that his mother left him and the woman who helps him retrieve its data. The story takes place in a time when all information is constantly uploaded to ‘the cloud,’ rendering nearly all of our present media obsolete. Interestingly, this time is fast approaching: the year is 2036. Chan writes:

My own experience with data loss made me think about how easy it is to lose digital memories and what it might mean for our culture — and ourselves — when that loss happens billions of times over. What memories will be preserved of our era, when the media itself is so fragile? Stone tablets survive millenia to tell us stories of civilizations that left few other traces. If the far-more-frail hard drive is the stone tablet of our times, we’re in big trouble.

In the future, virtually all of our lives will be recorded and presumably stored safely online somewhere. Recovering data from personal media like floppy disks, hard drives, optical discs, and memory chips will be an extinct business. But right now, we’re creating lots of digital memories on these media but only haphazardly preserving them. How will we feel about this in a few decades when much of it is gone?

You can watch “Digital Antiquities” here, and also check out FUTURESTATES’ Predict-o-Meter where you can weigh in on the future and see other users’ predictions.

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The Long Now Foundation is a nonprofit established in 01996 to foster long-term thinking. Our work encourages imagination at the timescale of civilization — the next and last 10,000 years — a timespan we call the long now.

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