Dreaming of a better future

As we hurtle into the 21st Century, it's easy to look back at our progress as a civilization and be impressed — but difficult to conceive of what may be ahead, yet very near. That's because our progress as humans is in fact moving at a faster and faster pace: It's the Law of Accelerating Returns, according to futurist Ray Kurzweil.

As our society advances, our technological advancements in turn come more rapidly. So while it took us around 500 years to get from printing press to laptop, it may only take us 50 to get from laptop to as-yet-unreal-but-equally-revolutionary device. Probably even fewer! We're going to need to drastically rethink both our understanding of past progress, and future innovation.

This forward momentum in human progress in technology, art, and life is unstoppable, but almost unimaginable. In The Future of Art & Work, we speak with four experts to try and divine some small sliver of the future. How will we work in the next decade? The next century? How is technology shaping artistic movements and creativity?

Artist Saya Woolfalk's work concerns a post-racial utopia. She explores post-species and -gender environments for the near and far future. With General Assembly, entrepreneur Matt Brimer is already creating a hybrid of online and offline education that harnesses the best of both; aiming to shrink the learning gap in tech, he imagines a world without desks or detention. Brooklyn Museum curator Carmen Hermo is reinvigorating old art for new audiences, while simultaneously encouraging new and interdisciplinary artists. She's helping reimagine the gallery and exhibition for the post-Tumblr age. And at the NeuroLeadership Institute, Dr. David Rock is using science and our understanding of the brain to re-imagine work as simultaneously productive and fulfilling. Just what is a "post-work world," and what does it look like?

A core theme you'll find throughout our interviews and research is that of authenticity. In every version of the future, and for each of our experts, authenticity is inherent to their advancements — despite, or in many cases, because of the potential temptation of a digital mirage. For example, in acknowledging our hybridity and interconnectedness, Saya strives for authenticity in her art, while Matt shares how to determine qualifications and quality in the uneven field of online education. David similarly explains how to vet out self-help hucksters in the ever-widening field of on- and offline gurus, and Carmen searches for museum acquisitions that say something relative and powerful about the current moment, while simultaneously offering relevance for decades to come.

Instead of seeking to answer the biggest questions about "The Future" in this small space, we hope to instead spark imagination and deep consideration about what truly is just around the corner. From speaking with just a few specialists in only two disciplines, what is certain is that a complete transformation of how we think, work, and create is imminent. Read on to learn how that transformation may take place, and start rethinking your own future.


Leah Taylor & Andrew Phillips


Victor Castro