BBC Future

Future Thinking

How our future visions can trap us

Our visions of the future are often influenced by science fiction. But are these brave new worlds creating problems for our descendants?

It is difficult to predict what life will be like in the future without relying on the visions from popular science fiction; fantasies of mile-high gleaming cities, jetpacks and loyal robot butlers.

Both Star Trek’s futuristic communicator and Minority Report’s gestural interfaces have become so closely associated with technological advancement, that they almost set the bar for real-life progress. Our idea of what the future entails is based more upon the technology of Star Wars and The Jetsons than what is actually taking shape on drawing boards and laboratories.

Is this restricting our ability to move forward? Yashoda Sampath, an economist who specialises in tracking trends in future technology, believes that we are in danger of falling into a “future trap” by blindly pursuing these technologies without considering their practical value.

She says we have to try harder to imagine how different technologies might solve problems in the future – but also look at the new problems they might create in their wake.

Yashoda Sampath spoke to BBC Future at SXSW Interactive in Austin Texas.

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