In “Human+: forecasting our future” (New Scientist, 15 April 2011), Cormac Sheridan takes us on a tour of metro retro speculation about the human future:
The premise underlying Human+, the exhibition that opens today at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, is that the future is knowable – even though everyone knows it’s not. As a species, we seem to be hard-wired to speculate on what’s going to happen next. Science Gallery director Michael John Gorman and his team have tapped into this tendency to put together a fascinating array of objects, creations and schemes, each of which explores some aspect of our engineered future. Gorman’s catalogue essay aptly describes the show as “an Alice-in-Wonderland world of pills, promises and prosthetics”. It’s a provocative exploration of the possible ways in which we may change what it means to be human.
But many of the schemes set out in the exhibition are deliberately fanciful. It would be surprising if Julijonas Urbonas’s Euthanasia Coaster, a detailed design for a euphoric death by the mother of all roller coaster rides, ever came to fruition. But the likelihood of such things is beside the point – our very human sense of play is the thing. One leaves HUMAN+ not with any real insights into how the future will actually play out but with a bracing sense that, whatever happens, we, as a species, will be ready.
Someone had enough sense to ask the coffee gal: How’s that again? We don’t know what will happen, but we’ll be ready? How does that differ from: We don’t know what will happen but we won’t be ready?