Imagining Tomorrow: 9 Things We Learned At the Further Future Festival

Last weekend Robot Heart, a famous Burning Man camp and NYC-based party production crew, held their first future-focused festival on an Indian Reservation about 30 miles outside of Las Vegas. If Further Future was a taste of what's to come, here's what it revealed:

1. Google’s moonshot factory will make human drivers obsolete

This is according to Astro Teller, who oversees Google X. When an audience member asked about the taxi drivers who would be displaced, he replied, “Hopefully we will find good things for them to do, like building our self driving cars.”

GoogleX is their self-proclaimed moonshot factory, well-known for emphasizing failure on the path to discovery, Project Loon, and other experiments.

2. We will experience music through neural interfaces

According to Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss, co-founders of Soundcloud, the technological constraints on music are lifting. As we experiment with different frequencies of sound, we may also start to experience songs as light.

Photo cred: Nicolas Troncin

3. Biofeedback devices will be a replacement for antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications

Rohan Dixit was wearing his new wearable device that detects his heartbeat and feeds it back to the wearer with a physical sensation. By attuning to one’s physical and emotional state, the imprint it leaves can be a tool for self-awareness.  They were especially powerful when his group wore them while listening to sunrise sets at Robot Heart.

Photo cred: Christian Lamb

4. Corporations will revolve around individual human beings who act as sensors of tension

Tony Hsieh of Zappos described his company philosophy of holacracy. He believes a professional “culture of consensus” encourages companies to hire entrepreneurs with independent visions, as opposed to cogs in a production machine.

Photo cred: Nicolas Troncin

5. CEOs will invite you into their homes, and cities will be designed to encourage serendipitous encounters

Tony Hsiehs’s Downtown Las Vegas project brings start-up culture to the city, instead of remaining within their corporate campus. It aims to facilitate interactions with like-minded employees and the community. One of the projects is an urban airstream lab, where he lives. He even invited anyone to come visit him in his trailer, apparently a standard offer.

6. Relationships are Evolving

Carter Cleveland of Artsy and his girlfriend approached the stage with hands locked for his panel discussing "the future of art." He explained their evolutionary partnership as a symbiotic merging of two individuals. Technological advancements will propel us forward and allow us to reach new levels of intimacy and interconnectedness with those we love.

Photo cred: Nicolas Troncin

7. Objects do not have to be inherently purposeful

There were at least 10 groups of marble-top coffee tables scattered throughout the desert. Someone must have over-ordered them for the sold out sit-down dinner.

Instead, they became relics of past civilization in which tables served a practical nature; reminders of our futile desire to structure reality rationally.

8. The future will be fluidly organized

In the Further Future, a schedule is a guideline, allowing space for unforeseen possibilities. Rigid structure gave way to the present unfolding moment. It’s assumed attendees will end up in the right place for themselves at exactly the right time, anyway.

Image credit Daniel Eiba

9. Aliens will be summoned, but it's not clear if they will appear

Rhye played an alien summons, and a symbolic Voyager Golden Record was a central art piece. Minutes after arriving on Saturday the 20 foot tall alien balloon, the mascot of the Further Future festival, had collapsed. Extraterrestrial contact is unreported as of yet.

Photo cred: Ellie Pritts


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