Interview with Future Crunch Part One: Humans and Intuitive Computing

We enjoy the Future Crunch newsletter so much that we decided it was time to chat to them personally and share their thoughts in a series of upcoming posts.

Human Acceleration

We’ve been following Future Crunch for a while, and we always enjoy what they have to say, and share.

In fact, we enjoy their free fortnightly newsletter so much that we decided it was time to chat to them personally and share their thoughts in a series of upcoming posts, with the idea that we that cover WNDYR‘s areas of focus: Humans, Technology and Space (Workspaces).

So to break it down, here are the key themes of our discussion, to be published in sequential blog posts over the next few weeks:

1. Humans and Intuitive Computing: Our future relationship with technology
2. Technology: Debunking myths around dystopian views on the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
3. Space (Workspaces): Thinking differently about the concept of work

Future Crunch: A bit of background

Gus Hervey, Tane Hunter and Tanushree Rao make up the team behind Future Crunch. Gus has a PhD in economics, Tane is doing his PhD in bioinformatics and Tanushree has a background in international relations, development and communication.

And to clarify, a bioinformatician is someone who is involved with “…the creation of data algorithms and specialised computer software to identify and classify components of a biological system, such as DNA and protein sequences. They consult with other scientists and researchers to analyse data sets.”

(Nope, we didn’t know that either.)

But how did it all start?

Future Crunch started out as a way to share ideas about technology and how to fix things. Disillusioned with the environmental movement, which he’d been working in for a while, Gus was thinking a lot about technology and how to fix things. After meeting Tane at a festival, and going on a subsequent bike trip together, they decided to do a talk about the future with some friends. This led to another one, and Future Crunch was born.

We help organisations understand what is on the frontiers of science and technology so that they can prepare themselves for what’s coming down the line- Gus

Tanushree got involved with Gus and Tane after seeing them talk at a conference in Brisbane, which made her realise how science and tech can interact with the sociopolitical realm for the better. She’s now made the move to Melbourne to work with the team, where’s she’s also starting to get into speaking.

Science and tech isn’t so far off from everything else if you’re able to make those kinds of connections, which a lot of society doesn’t – Tanushree

In its present incarnation, Future Crunch is a think tank that speaks and consults, and all about intelligent, optimistic thinking about the future, via a number of different channels: a newsletter, online/social media and speaking at events.

It’s easy to get cynical about the world, but it takes consideration and effort to search for a different perspective, and engage with everything that is happening that no one is telling you about. While some might think it’s naive, their inspirational approach to the future aligns with what we think too: the future presents us with opportunities.

With this clear synergy, we asked Gus and Tanushree to weigh in on some thoughts that we’ve had about the future of humans, technology and spaces (workspaces) in a recent Skype call:

Question 1: How do you think the relationship between humans and technology will change in the future?

(Yes, it’s a very broad question, but we were interested to hear what Gus and Tanushree thought about the challenges we face moving into the future.)

In Tanushree’s opinion, she hates how phones and screens have taken over from interpersonal relationships:

I feel like screens will be a digital interface that we won’t need in the future, as devices become more of a layer over our lives instead of a dominating force. I see technology assisting human relationships in the future instead of taking time away from them- Tanushree

With the idea of technology in the future becoming more ambient, Gus added his thoughts about the concept of intuitive computing, where the devices we interact with become an intrinsic part of our environment, without having to actually even think about it, or make a huge effort to interact with them.

In the future, technology becomes ambient. It shrinks in form and expands in function, and starts to preserve mindfulness instead of capturing attention – Gus

An example Gus gave to explain technological ambience is electricity. At the beginning of last century, electricity would have been a huge disruption to a society that was used to lighting lamps at dusk and using candles, but nowadays, we don’t even think twice about switching the lights on or off when we walk into or out of a room. Ironically, the only time we really notice it is when it isn’t working!

As with electricity, the Future Crunch sees the world of the future as one dominated by ideas and the endless possibilities that come with developing new technologies. Instead of a dystopian future dominated by technology that we can’t control, their perspective is one of integration and empowerment, that comes with global technological developments that are consistently expanding on existing functionality.

What are your thoughts on the future relationship between humans and technology? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below:

For further updates on the future, and different perspectives on humans, technology and space (workspaces), look out for the next post in this interview series by following us on on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook.

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