Video and notes on the future of the 21st century


I spoke last night at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, to speak at the last of their GoMA Talks on the 21st century which accompany their current exhibit of 21st century art. The topic was the future of the 21st century, with panellists:

– Antony Funnell, presenter of ABC Radio National’s Future Tense
– Tony Albert, artist
– Ross Dawson, futurist
– Dr Melissa Gregg, Senior Lecturer in Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at Sydney University and author of Work’s Intimacy
– Tim Longhurst, futurist

Here is the video of the full session:

Watch live streaming video from queenslandartgallery at

The #GoMATalks Twitter stream was very active, with over 80 tweets from the stream selected to be shown on the main screen.

As usual for panels I tried to capture some live notes as we went. In case you don’t have time to watch the 1 hour video, here are my notes from the panel’s discussions, merging comments from across the panellists, just to capture some flavor of the evening.

We very quickly forget what it was like. We have taken so naturally to digital social connections that we can’t remember what it was like.

There are trends and counter-trends. Technology is not necessarily at the heart of the future.

Yes we are experiencing the corporatization of society, but also the socialization of corporations.

It is increasingly mandatory for staff to be active on social media. They are forced to have a public face.

Technology does not need to be part of our lives. We need to understand the future beyond the role of technology.

Many artists are exploring technology to find new ways of engaging with their audience.

It’s about pattern recognition, recognizing signals in the noise. Collaborative filtering helps us to sort through infinite information, however it is still ultimately about cognition, making sense of what’s out there.

Do we focus our attention only on what we want to see, now that we can? Social networks of people we know and like supports that. However we are almost certainly exposed to more diverse information than we were decades ago.

There is a myth that Australians have a relaxed life, but in fact we work very hard, with many not being able to take weekends. There is a dichotomy between those who love their job and those who do what they can to make a living.

Australia can rewrite its mythologies over the next decades. It has to. We need to look again at who we are.

Is the degree of connection we have today making us dumb? The jury is out, there is a rich discussion about this at the moment. However attention spans appear to be shorter.

Will there be peak technology in the same way as peak oil? No, because we will merge with technology. Some will choose to do so, and some will not.

Big unknowns remaining include how (and whether) we will deal with the availability of energy, food, water, medical services and other resources.

It is a privilege to be born white in Australia. It is not clear whether a better future for aboriginal people here.

In the future we may not be fixated on gender. But we have a long way to go.

Education will be central to our future. We must learn continually in order to prosper. Classrooms should be about personal relationships of respect where technology is banned. However connections can enable people to learn.