In the words of Paul McCartney, it’s getting better all the time (we will ignore John Lennon’s rejoinder). But the human race has a short memory, despite the fact that however you measure it – life expectancy, infant mortality, extreme poverty, literacy, child labor, food as percentage of spending, homicide rates, violent crime – we are broadly heading in the the right direction.
In this spirit of confidence, I caught up with some of the lineup who were getting ready to speak at the annual Nesta FutureFest (UK). I asked each to describe the developments in their industry that they’re most optimistic about.
Henrique Olifiers, Co-Founder and Gamer-In-Chief of Bossa Studios
As a core trait of the games industry, there’s always a lot going on: platforms old and new constantly experimenting with new business models, novel genres being embraced, old tropes being revived, a lot of hype left, right and centre, particularly with the rollout of virtual reality and the outlook of Mixed Reality (MR).
Two main trends should take centre stage next: large-scale simulations, powered by cloud computing, heralding an age of much more powerful and deep gaming experiences by games that are changed by those playing them; and artificial intelligence being employed as game directors in order to create tailored experiences for each group of players, changing the focus from difficulty curves towards emotional journeys.
Cindy Gallop, Entrepreneur
Within my field – sextech – I’m extremely optimistic about three things. First, the rise of common sense. Every day, the media now covers the issue I started MakeLoveNotPorn eight years ago to address. That is, porn becoming sex education by default when we don’t talk about sex in the real world. People are realizing we simply cannot go on operating around sex and porn the way we always have. We have to open up, talk about it and disrupt it.
Second, the most innovative sextech ventures are coming from female founders, because women are finally owning their sexuality and coming up with disruptive ways to leverage it. And finally, I’m finally seeing investors getting it and wanting in on the trillion-dollar industry of the future. Every other big bet ever made in the history of tech pales against sextech.
Martin Morales, Chef, Restaurateur and Founder of Ceviche and Andina Restaurants
Technology is making payment easier for customers and restaurateurs, helping speed up the eating out, takeaway and grab-and-go markets. I’m excited by contactless payments in particular as well as pre-paid forms and ordering. I’m also excited about the experience of eating and other art and entertainment forms blending together. I don’t believe there should be any boundaries and so in various events we have produced we’ve had fun with food and cinema, technology, TV, art and music. Chefs are musicians, and artists and creatives and more – all in one. The possibilities are endless.
Marije Vogelzang, Eating Designer
It makes me very excited to see more and more young designers starting to work with food. There’s a new generation of designers that are not only interested in beautiful objects but want to work on a subject that has impact. What better subject than food? By bringing more creative minds into the foodchain and into our food culture we can bring new values, more poetry and unexpected visions into the world on every level.
Matt Kelly, Chief Content Officer of Archant and Editor of The New European
Journalism is a dying game, they say. But look around with an optimist’s eye and you see clues everywhere pointing not to a dark future, but a new golden age for quality journalism. Global and independently-funded investigations like the Panama Papers; proliferation of hyper-local communities on social media; off-the-shelf availability of what, just five years ago, were super-complex, super-expensive digital platforms; explosion of non-linear broadcast storytelling; and idiosyncratic print experiments.
These may all appear wildly different models but all – and countless other examples – are threaded-through by a common denominator; they sink or swim on how profoundly relevant their audiences find them. The price of content is no longer the make-or-break question. The key question for audiences today, and tomorrow, is this: Do I really want to give up my time for this stuff?
Lizzie Ostrom, Event Producer and Founder of Odette Toilette
More brands and retailers are using fragrance as part of their marketing, which is exciting but has also brought about suspicion that we’re being manipulated. I think that as the use of fragrance grows in new applications, we’ll have much more education and communication about how we make scents rather than pretending it’s a load of rose petals sourced from the fields. It’s important we engage with the role and value of synthetics rather than pretending they don’t exist.
The industry is at the point where we are just starting to quantify the relationship between particular aromatic materials and the brain. Eventually we’ll have many more examples to understand how in isolation (not just within an essential oil) a particular compound might both smell wonderful, and support our brains.
Melody Hossaini, CEO of InspirEngage International
Research is showing that millennials are motivated by and make career choices based on factors other than money. They want to feel a sense of purpose. This is particularly the case among millennial women. By 2025, millennials will account for 75 per cent of the global workforce and over 50 per cent of this group will be female.
Connected to this sense of purpose – we will increasingly see a stark increase in social enterprises being born. We are, in what we call the ‘Social Era’. More and more people want to run a business that also makes a difference. That’s where social enterprise has firmly carved itself a place in the new business world. The future will see an increased growth in successful and innovative social enterprises and I’m very excited about this.
Bridget Minamore, Writer
When it comes to poetry and prose, I’m optimistic about the ways technology can help to mould the future of the craft. No poets could have imagined the ways sites like Soundcloud and YouTube would change the genre – now, you get videos of poems getting millions of hits online. There can be snobbery, but I think it’s a positive thing and am hopeful that the future will see things like poetry shared in ways I can’t even imagine yet.
Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky), Musician
Within the next couple of years’ mobile media, I’m most optimistic about people becoming more and more literate about how code affects culture. Right now, we can see how computers and digital media have changed everything from elections to editing the human genome with CRISPR, or how video games affect cognition. If there’s one thing Pokemon Go should have told us, it’s that your mobile media devices are all about interconnectivity at a level that makes previous generations of games like Dungeons and Dragons seem totally in the rear view mirror.