The Museum of the Future: Machinic Life is an exhibition at the World Government Summit in Dubai exploring the future impact of current advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence on society. In partnership with the Prime Minister’s Office of the UAE, Tellart led futures research, concept development, design, and production for this major strategic endeavor.
The exhibition theme of “Machinic Life” showcases how sentient machines could evolve to enhance our bodies and minds, restructure our social and family lives, and manage complex social and economic systems.
This transition will present amazing opportunities and challenges for society in the coming years. The exhibition asked the world leaders and general public who attended the exhibition: What does Machinic Life mean for society, for government, and for our families? What conversations should we be having today to prepare for a better tomorrow?
This introduction to the exhibition presents real products and services from the present that suggest pathways to possible futures. From human augmentation to emotive machines and hyper-intelligent decision-making, visitors discover that the present is already surprisingly automated.
How will these technologies evolve in the next 20 years? And how will they impact society?
Paths to the Future
Key drivers of change, social and technological trends and signals of today can be used to extrapolate future scenarios. These “vectors of change” push our future in new directions, helping us to envision how technology may evolve to enhance ourselves and our society.
Objects are emerging which augment our bodies, integrate into our domestic and social life, and help us manage complex social and economic systems. The Museum of the Future presents these vectors and uses them to posit a future in which computation and technology are tightly integrated into our governmental systems, our emotional relationships, and our bodies — a “Machinic Life.”
As visitors enter the Personal Augmentation Spa, they cross a threshold from the present to the first of three speculative future scenarios, where they can directly experience a future where body modification is commonplace. The Spa is a cross between a relaxing surgical suite and a high end consumer electronics store: it displays a range of physical, cognitive and social enhancements that will be on the market in 2035. Visitors can peruse upgrades and witness the future of human augmentation through interactive virtual reality experiences.
EyeShare, by du
This speculative design artefact is a social network that allows users to broadcast visual and sensory feed to their friends or colleagues, or tune into the vision stream of millions of others.
This augmentation boosts users’ social intelligence by providing real-time analysis of the emotions of others, offering instant feedback on what to say and how to act for maximum social impact.
This speculative surgical implant reengineers the lower body’s skeletomuscular system to give users the ability to run at superhuman speeds, jump over 5 meters, or lift staggering weight without breaking a sweat.
The second speculative future scenario explores a future in which a household artificial intelligence transforms our domestic lives.
Mental health, elderly care, and stress take a huge toll on society each year. As machines become better at reading our emotions, we will naturally employ them to take better care of us.
Stepping inside the home, an artificially intelligent avatar awaits visitors’ arrival. This is their domestic AI, which is tasked with helping take care of them and their family. Adopting a role similar to a real child or pet, the AI invites visitors to join in a projection mapped game—promoting fitness at the same time as lifting their mood.
A household AI will likely take many forms, seamlessly adapting to context and audience. Here it transforms from a friendly child into a caring adult. It notices that its human counterpart is still stressed from work and could use a calming massage. As visitors sink into a lounge chair, the room turns into a paradise-like atmosphere with a 360-degree projection and relaxing music. Via a robotic chair, the domestic AI provides a calming massage to help visitors relax and rebalance.
In the final room of the home, the domestic AI deepens its role as a caretaker and member of the family. It calmly rocks a child’s cradle and sings it a lullaby while gently illuminating the room like a nightlight.
As AI’s advance, they will become better at reading our emotions and taking care of our needs. This will help us reduce our stress, take better care of our children, and provide better social, emotional, and mental support for our loved ones. These three experiences provoke visitors to ask themselves: But how far might it go? Will we ever see digital spouses or entire AI families?
What impact will digital tutors, AI teachers, and robotic caretakers have on our children and families? Will it help us be better parents, siblings, and children? Or will it push us farther apart and be more isolating, distracting and fragmentary?
In the future, our machines will care for us, and we will care for our machines. What form will this relationship take? Can we develop a meaningful bond with these machines?
In 2035, algorithms will be able to draw from petabytes of information to perform complex, long-term scenario planning. They will make trillions of decisions per second and manage complex systems in ways that surpass human comprehension.
In this final future scenario, visitors enter the nerve center of the UAE HyperMind, a massively interconnected artificial intelligence that is tasked with responsibly managing society. This superintelligence is fed with billions of data streams from every corner of society, the economy and the natural world.
This area asked visitors: How will these machines impact government, society, and the world? What will our role be in giving them objectives and helping to guide them, and how will they help to guide us?
An Interview with the HyperMind
What will your role be in this future? In this exhibit, visitors step up to the HyperMind to conduct a job interview. They are asked a range of deep, psychologically probing questions that supplement the machine’s understanding of their abilities, disposition, and potential.
At the end of the interview, the HyperMind offers visitors a contract for a futuristic job, based on its analysis. It estimates visitors’ degree of happiness with the proposed job, their potential contribution to social and economic value, and the relative impact their acceptance will have on the world. Visitors can then choose to accept the contract or decline, leaving wondering if they have a choice at all.
This concluding Machinic Life exhibit leaves visitors asking: What role for human agency is there in this future? Who will decide what is right and wrong, and what will be left for human beings? Will we lead our machines, or will we be led by our machines?