Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

When science-fiction become our reality

May 03, 2019 - Guilherme Gerais

”Any useful idea about the future should appear to be ridiculous”

Jim Dator, futurologist.


On the lecture Intelligent Technical Artifacts and Human Beings by professor and futurologist Jim Dator, from the University of Hawaii, the professor explained how we could for the last 200 years predict how the future would look like and what was the purpose of life. Now, he says, the driven forces are coming to an end and are indispensable that people, individually and collectively, ‘scan’ future alternatives we had before and develop new forms for them and for their community. He mentioned the huge amount of the ‘tsunami of changes’ heading to our direction and how we are basically ignoring it.


On the occasion, he presented four different possible scenarios for the future of human beings; Continued Economic Growth (to keep the economy growing and changing forever ), Collapse ( the extinction of humans or go to a lower stage of development than currently ), Discipline ( to orient our lives around a set of fundamental values ) or Transformation ( the rise of a new society, the transformational society and the powerfully transforming power of technology robotics, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, space settlement, teleportation, etc ).


Jim Dator also mentioned how futurists make their forecasts about the future regarding and studying images from popular culture, movies, television, religion, language, traditions and how theories and methods are ‘born’ from images, as their main source of inspiration.


On another lecture about the future of human beings, the philosopher Yuval Noah Harari made several statements about our living on planet earth. In his opinion, we are bound to a ‘dark’ era, where a new human class will raise, The Useless Humans, due to losing their jobs because of the advance of technologies and become of no ‘utility’ for society anymore. For him, these class of humans will more and more rely on drugs, computer games, and artificial environments that will simulate virtual reality to satisfy them so they can have pleasure and escape reality.


Also, during this lecture, he mentioned that you always find some ‘fictional story’, whether is about god, mythologies, about the nation or money, at the base of large scale human cooperations on earth. In his opinion, our ability to create fiction and spread them around and believe in them made possible for the human being to conquer the world.


Lastly, he mentioned the will to upgrade humans into gods thereafter creating a new type of human beings. Our ability for the first time in history to produce inorganic things, such as Artificial Intelligence and our current incapacity to decipher and process the huge amount of information being generated, due to be interpreted and analyzed by A.I and algorithms.


On the text Apocalyptic Cyborgian State, by Chrissie Iles, presented on the catalog of the exhibition Dreamlands, she wrote that ‘the world is becoming increasingly cyborgian in its mediation by technology’ and ‘binaries no longer feel useful as a way to rationalize what is happening’. For her, artists today are combining organic and technological elements, that absorbs and reflects collective anxiety and ambivalence toward technological saturation of our personal and social identities. She adds, ‘artists working across all mediums take the immateriality of digital technology as a given and choose whether to incorporate it, or work in a different, more analog way’.


Regarding the future, there’s a general consensus among different authors, writers, philosophers, journalists that we don’t know the basic of how we are going to be in the next 50 years, how we are going to be physically, sexually and mentally. The more data are generated, the faster the changes will be and the harder it gets to make a sharp prediction on the future.


Another thing in common among the futuristic predictions is the not optimistic tone for our future, there’s a general sense that humans will depend more and more on technology, and even more, will have to compete with computers in order to survive in their jobs. For Jim Dator, life will go on, maybe not involving ourselves like we are today, or other forms of life we know today.