I sat on the panel of Invented Futures last night, a panel discussion as part of Bristol Technology Festival 2019 about how the stories we tell about technology shape our future. The other panelists were Coral Manton, Julia Scott-Stevenson and Cheryl Morgan. It was a wide ranging debate that was nicely brought together by organiser Maria Leonard‘s questions that weaved each of our backgrounds and perspectives together.
Stories we tell about tech
Emerging tech has been shaped by hundreds of years of stories; technology is deeply enmeshed in the culture that surrounds it. From Hephaestus, the first roboticist in Greek mythology to invent autonomous ‘servants’, through to Karel Čapek’s Roboti, HAL 9000, Knight Rider’s KITT, and Dick Tracy’s video wristwatch, distinguishing between technologies and our fantasies about them has never been easy.
How narratives are told
Storytelling shapes tech narratives; most films depict AI as having bodies because it’s a visual medium. Storytelling conventions are often created through the fears and desires of the cultures that produce them. How can new forms of storytelling impact how we understand our future?
While a small number of people are creating the tech that becomes the blueprint for what our future might look like, it’s necessary to keep in mind the limitless number of possible futures that can be created. But which voices get to create these new narratives?
photo credit: @veritymcintosh