This year’s Internet Age Media festival in Barcelona brought together delegates from the worlds of advertising, media and futures to discuss the potential of utopias at a time of great political discontent.
Key to this was a discussion of Post-Labels, or how the internet could live up to its promise of a borderless world that connects people with diverse perspectives, rather than as a space that is increasingly segmented into filter bubbles controlled by algorithms.
Advocating activism, Elise by Olsen, founder of Recens Paper, opened with the statement: 'Utopias are a way to actively invent futures – to break rules. Let’s not predict futures. Let’s actively create and command them. What is desirable is a credible, inclusive and stable future.'
Speakers such as Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, editor-in-chief of Muslimgirl.com, demonstrated how to challenge cultural stereotypes and empower minority youth on a mass scale, using little more than a laptop with a wi-fi connection.
Post-Reality, or the future of virtual, mixed and augmented realities, was another key discussion at the festival. Speakers explored how the boundary between what is considered online and offline, or digital and real, is increasingly dissolving.
Monika Bielskyte, the creative strategist behind early concept boards for sci-fi film Ghost In The Shell, spoke about the ethical implications of creating new virtual realities. She put forward numerous concepts showing how virtual reality has the potential to be used for medical and humanitarian purposes, but also its potential for evil.
Virtual reality musician Ash Koosha asked the audience to consider how the combination of machine learning and virtual reality might change how we process and interact with information. He argued that immersive experiences might fundamentally change human behaviour, rather than being simply a form of entertainment.