Futurist Thomas Frey: What images come to mind when you think about the future? Do you think about near-term futures with 3D printers, driverless cars, and robotics, or do you think about more distant futures of space travel, human cloning, and teleportation devices?
People make decisions today based on their understanding of what the future holds. In fact, your vision of the future permeates virtually every decision you make in your life. So if you change your vision of the future, you actually change the way you make decisions, today.
With this brief intro, I’ve tried to capture the true potential for creating a Museum of Future Inventions. It’s all about changing your vision of the future.
Simply hearing about future technologies will create a small level of engagement. However, becoming fully immersed in a future experience, where you see images, videos, and animations; listen to thought leaders, deep thinkers, and futurists; with interactive models you can touch and manipulate; all of these together have the potential of becoming a truly transformative, life-changing experience.
Realism creates viability. So adding elements of realism to our visions of the future makes them increasingly viable. Inevitably this kind of influence will translate into massive new innovations, the kind of innovations we’ll need to drive our economies forward.
But unlike traditional museums focused on the past, this one will function as a working laboratory of the future, one where visions are constantly being built, rebuilt, and rebuilt again. The future is not a destination. Rather it’s a journey built on the backs of crazy, passionate people, with brilliant minds, dogged determination, and obsessed with making a difference. We see them as crazy, but history will view them as genius.
At the DaVinci Institute we started thinking about the Museum of Future Inventions 10 years ago and it’s still not a reality. However, with jobs disappearing at a record pace, we’ll need a whole new engine driving innovation. And the Museum of Future Inventions may just be the missing “flux capacitor” to drive this new engine.
History of the Future
How does the future get created? From the human side of this equation, the future gets created in the minds of everyone around us.
While we all have a vital role to play in creating our own future, there are a few people in history who have had a tremendous influence on how we perceived what the future would look like in the past.
Here are just a few examples:
- 1500 – Leonardo da Vinci – The series of hand drawings da Vinci did on the concept of flying still influences many in the aviation world today.
- 1870 – Jules Verne – As a French novelist, Verne’s epic works – Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days – paved the way for science fiction writers everywhere.
- 1934 – Alex Raymond – Even though the early Flash Gordon movies look pretty cheesy by today’s standards, when young Alex Raymond first started writing about this fictional character caused a whole new generation to start dreaming about life in space.
- 1962 – The Jetsons – The original series for the Jetsons consisted of 24 episodes that were produced between 1962-1963. Tony Benedict was one of the main writers and perhaps the true visionary behind the Jetsons. Yet, there is virtually nothing about him online.
- 1966 – Star Trek – Gene Roddenberry developed and produced Star Trek, perhaps the best-known franchise in science fiction history. Many of today’s technologies were heavily influenced by Star Trek.
- 1968 – Arthur C. Clark – Generally regarded as one of the most influential and far-sighted futurist of his day, Arthur C. Clark is best known for his epic film, 2001 a Space Odyssey.
- 1968 – Philip K. Dick – Blade Runner was the first of Philip K. Dick’s stories to make it to the big screen followed by such blockbusters as Total Recall, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, and the Adjustment Bureau.
- 1977 – George Lucas – In 1977, the movie Star Wars shifted virtually everyone’s thinking about robots, space living, and the future.
Naturally there are thousands more that could have been mentioned, but in the future we will have a list far too long to mention.
Inside the Museum – Creating Visions of the Future
Inside the museum, each pavilion will serve as an industry-specific focal point for innovation. As an example, a future energy pavilion will focus on 3-5 key developments that will change the industry along with a combination of roadmaps, timelines and scenarios to help people understand the benefits, implications, and breakthroughs necessary to pull them off.
Pavilions, exhibits, and displays will be constantly updated and revised. Unlike traditional museums, where artifacts are artfully placed in a glass case and not touched for years, our understanding of the future is constantly evolving. This will require that each exhibit incorporate a combination of rapid prototyping, interactive multimedia production, concept visualization, storytelling techniques, and more than a few new processes to be invented along the way.
To start with, the Museum will include eight pavilions.
- Reinventing Energy Pavilion
- Future Transportation Pavilion
- Nanotechnology Pavilion
- Future Education Pavilion
- Robots and Automation Pavilion
- Life Sciences Pavilion
- Space Commerce Pavilion
- Smart Home and Smart Living Pavilion
These titles are only a starting point and will likely be renamed along the way. In addition to the main pavilions will be a number of other featured areas to engage young and old people alike.
Young Inventor Laboratory
Built around a playful architecture, and entering through a series of exhibits featuring future inventions for kids, young visitors will find a thousand ways to tease their minds as they design and draft their own invention plans.
Challenging their inventive skills, one station will allow them to build and operate their own robots. Another will test their physical ability and give them tools for inventing their own exercise devices. A central theater will engage them in a variety of topics ranging from invention stories, to physics demonstrations, to demonstrations of light, magnetism, biology, ecology, and other sciences.
Eight Grand Challenges
Adding a unique twist to normal exhibits will be the Eight Grand Challenges, a competition that outlines what it will take to become one of the greatest inventors of all times.
These Challenges have been framed around incredibly difficult feats and at stake will be a combination of national pride, personal legacies, and laying claim to unprecedented achievements in science and industry.
Here is an overview of the “Eight Grand Challenges”:
- Race to the Core: First team to build a probe that makes it all the way to the center of the earth with a communication system capable of sending real-time sensory data to the surface throughout the journey.
- Viewing the Past: Create a technology capable of replaying an unrecorded event that happened no less than 20 years earlier in full-size, holographic form of display.
- Disassembling Matter: First team to reduce a solid block of granite (2’ cube) to particles no larger than molecules in less than 10 seconds, using less than 500 watts of power without causing an explosion or physical damage to objects more than 10′ away.
- The Gravity Challenge: Demonstrate gravitational control over an object weighing no less than 2,000 lbs. by doubling the force of gravity to 4,000 lbs., reducing the force of gravity by 50% to 1,000 lbs., and creating negative gravity by lifting the object 1,000 ft and returning it back to the original position with no explosions and in less than 10 minutes.
- The Ultimate Small Storage Particle: Create an electron-based data storage system no larger than 10 millimeters cubed that can be manufactured for less than $1 per 100 terabytes and is capable of uploading, storing, and retrieving a volume of information equal to the U.S. Library of Congress in less than 10 minutes using less than 1 watt per TB/month.
- Travel at the Speed of Light: Create a scientific probe capable of traveling at the speed of light for a distance no less than the Earth to Saturn with information sensors to capture stresses, impacts, and details along the way.
- Swarm-Bots: Create a swarm of 10,000 synchronized micro drones no larger than 10 millimeters across (height, width, and depth) capable of lifting a 250-pound person to a height of 100 feet and gently returning him/her to the ground.
- The 10-Second Interface: Create a direct-to-the-mind interface that will allow 25 average people to answer a series of questions within 10 seconds with no harmful side effects to the user.
“Taste of the Future” Café
People who are hungry will have a chance to dine on tomorrow’s food.
As our understanding of food changes, so will the means of production, food styles, supply chains, preparation techniques, and more.
Why this is so Urgently Needed
It’s easy to look around and see what exists today, but the true visionaries are looking at what’s missing. And “what’s missing” is where the real opportunities lie.
With today’s automations, jobs are disappearing faster than ever before in history. The only way to compensate for this is to build new businesses and new industries from scratch.
Several studies have shown that every job lost will be replaced many times over with emerging new industries.
People of tomorrow will need to be prepared for a higher calling. This higher calling will be to pre-empt crises before they occur, anticipate disasters before they happen, and solve some of mankind’s greatest problems, starting with the problem of our own ignorance.
Much like walking through a dark forest with a flashlight that illuminates but a short distance ahead, each step forward gives us a new perspective, adding light to what was previously dark. The people of tomorrow will simply need a better flashlight.
With over 2 billion jobs disappearing by 2030, we will need systems capable of creating new business and industry faster than ever before. The Museum can become an important piece of this equation.
Our primary influencers today, when it comes to matters of the future, tend to be movies, television, and news shows whose primary interest is in making a profit, not making a better world. Fear is a great driver of profits. Consequently we’ve been deluged with dismal, dystopian views of the future, views that leave most of us dreading the world ahead.
The Museum of Future Inventions has the potential to be a major positive influence on the world ahead. The future is not one where everyone dreads getting up in the morning because so many things can go wrong. Rather, the future we’re imagining is exciting; where we can’t wait to get started on their next project because we know we can make a difference.
Our goal is to create an experience that will profoundly change the lives of each person who spends a day in the museum.
However a project like this will require far more help than we can currently muster with our small team at the DaVinci Institute. Over the coming weeks we’ll let you know how to get involved.
As with everything, it only takes a few bright minds to make a difference. Let us know if you’re one of them.
Author of “Communicating with the Future” – the book that changes everything