Next Nature

Meeting the Future at TodaysArt

Last week The Hague hosted the 12th edition of TodaysArt, a festival dedicated to contemporary experiments in music, art and digital culture. As the event – called “Public Under Construction” – incorporated meetings, performances, installations and concerts all focused on the future, it gave more questions than answers. Some of them are worth pointing out.

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Disney's Frozen is causing tourism overload in Norway, and it's not sure if that is a good thing.
Society of Simulations

Disney Causes Tourism Overload in Norway

In March 2012 a team of Disney’s creatives booked a tour through Norway to find inspiration for their upcoming film Frozen, or “Frost” as the movie is called in Norway. The breathtaking fjords, glacier lakes and snow-capped mountaintops served as the perfect backdrop for the Oscar-winning film. The animated feature not only broke box office records when it was released in 2013, it also boosted Norwegian tourism by 20%. And it’s not sure if that is a good thing.

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The first self driving boat in Amsterdam
Wild Systems

Roboat Ahoy: the First Autonomous Boats

Just when you thought the development of autonomous transportation couldn’t be any better, the Roboat arrived. This self-driving boat will be entering the canals of Amsterdam in 2017 with versatile ends. The Roboat will be used to transport goods and it will also be deployed as a temporary floating infrastructure, assembling itself into a walking bridge or a concert stage.

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Doge on windos operating system
Wild Systems

Computers Need Domestication

One of the most rewarding parts of our relationship with dogs is how we humanize them, they seem to smile at us, speak and understand our feelings. But in the end we are just putting a human layer on an animal with a brain that is still a mystery to us. What we know very well is how to train them, we study their reaction to certain basic stimuli and take advantage of it to get them to perform a specific task. This method was set thanks to the behavioural studies developed by physiologist Ivan Pavlov. Now, more that 100 years after, his research became relevant again because we have to deal with a new kind of mysterious brain that needs to be trained: deep machine learning.

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Forward to Nature

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Virtual worlds, printed food, living cities, wild robots – we’re so surrounded by technology that it’s becoming our next nature. How can we live in harmony with it? The Next Nature Network is a 21st century nature organization that wants to go forward – not back – to nature. We stir debate, create events, exhibitions, publications and products that bring biology and technology into balance. Because ultimately, we may not just have to save the pandas but the people too. Will you join us?

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selfie
Society of Simulations

Flip-Flop Selfie

Taking a selfie is not as obvious as it might seem. About five billion people, of the 7.4 living on our planet, don’t own a smartphone. These two boys use the nap of their flip-flop as a camera to take an imaginary selfie. Still, their selfie went viral and became our peculiar image of the week.

Image via Volkskrant

Back to the Tribe

Interview: Leanne Wijnsma, Designer for the Instinct Who Uses Smell as Medium

Consider this, early humans had a more developed olfactory sense. As we are slowly evolving, our sense of smell is degrading because we need it less to survive. Dutch experience designer Leanne Wijnsma creates for the human instinct and puts the sense of smell back to where it belongs, as modern hazards have shifted to the digital realm.

In 2014 she was nominated for the Bio Art and Design Award and has been a Future Emerging Art and Technology associate since 2016. She received an e-culture grant from the Dutch Cultural Media Fund to research and develop her current project The Smell Of Data in collaboration with filmmaker Froukje Tan. We recently spoke to her about olfactory design, digital bodies, the relationship between freedom and technology, and more.

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The People Walker Add
Suburban Utopia

Walk, Talk and Get Paid

A plain white backgound with just three sentences listed: “Can you walk and talk? Or are you just interested in being walked? Enter your email” followed by a submit button. This no-design website stands against the vividly coloured ultra-responsive web design we got used to. It praises simplicity aiming at direct personal contact. And so does the job it is advertising: walking people.

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solar energy currency
Hypernature

Solar Energy: the Hottest New Currency

Energy is everywhere and everything. This is a central idea of Albert Einstein’s famous e=mc2 equation. In the very near future it is possible to imagine that most surfaces on our planet will be able to capture this abundance of energy that we find ourselves surrounded by and made up of. All living creatures on Earth, including humans and their new robotic associates, demand energy to survive. Thanks to newly designed green technologies, energy is starting to be safely and sustainably captured. The huge demand for energy and potentially sustainable supply makes it a very strong candidate for a commodity-based currency. An energy credit if you will.

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Intimate Technology

Using Nanobots to Treat Depression

Keep calm and carry on; don’t worry be happy; just stop being sad! If we could treat depression just by saying corny catchphrases or repeating mantras, life would be easier. Well, now we are a step closer to this scenario, but instead of saying a phrase you have to do math.

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