The limits of our imagination

There’s so much that stifles our imagination — namely, someone’s concept of reality, and what they deem possible within that reality.

I think one of the saddest sentences is “That’s not realistic” — not necessarily the words themselves, but their impact. Certainly dreams for the future should consider limitations, but solely focusing on current constraints is incredibly stifling. More than acknowledging what obstacles lay in front of a particular idea, “that’s not realistic” shuts down creative thinking as to how some far-fetched endeavor may come to be.

I like science fiction for this very reason — it’s not supposed to be realistic, because it’s inherently a part of a different reality, whose rules are entirely up to the author. Moreover, it requires the audience to suspend disbelief, thus allowing them to consider an alternate reality, without the analytical mind interfering with what’s possible.

Fear also plays a powerful role in what we can imagine. How many more articles are there about how singularity will crush humanity than stories of how technology will enhance our capacity to communicate and love?

I believe the more we focus on the dark side of technology, the more we will create a dark future. The longer we can hang on to optimism in our imaginations, the more optimistic our future.

For example, here’s my concept of how we can improve the grocery shopping experience (I never know what I want to eat, and I even if I do, I never know where to find it!).

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Er. Whoops. That got a little dark… but the beginning was nice! I definitely treated myself to some ice cream after that project. You are not the boss of me!
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I guess I’m not so immune to imagining the downside of smart tech. Will robots really take over minds? Have they already and we just don’t know it?

Speaking of the Matrix, our teacher, Mr. Anderson exposed us to several different concepts of the future. One of which was illustrated in a talk by Argo design’s Jared Ficklin.

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If you haven’t watched this talk, you must. It tickled me. It details several examples of the kind of design I want to create — provocative, but most importantly, magical.

Mr. Anderson also showed us more bleak concepts, such as Strange Beasts by filmmaker, Magali Barbé.

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Talk about fear limiting imagination — I viewed several different opinions as to how the future could manifest, and my video concept was clearly influenced by this one.

It’s not that I don’t dream of how technology can improve or delight us, but the fact that I chose a more somber tone speaks to my humanity — the human brain is millions of years old (the oldest known hominid, or humanlike species, has been dated at 4.4 million years old). It is not designed to make us happy, it is designed to make us survive. So, it makes sense that the scary would captivate more than the ideal.

Perhaps, more optimistically, technology can help us finally evolve past these old reptilian brains.