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Invented Futures

Invented Futures will bring together thinkers, researchers, technologists and artists to uncover the role of speculation - through prototypes, fiction, philosophy, literature - in re-shaping our understanding of the ‘future’ and the technology we live alongside.

Futures are contested spaces: we take many aspects of the future as known, but this certainty collapses based on what actually happens. For many of us, a global pandemic isn’t always on our near future horizon. The last six months have proved that our ways of living, and our understanding of the near future, is always fragile. But uncertainty is often painted as negative and frightening. Can allowing ourselves to ask speculative“What if?” questions help us embrace uncertainty, and use it to create the kind of futures we would like to see?

Speculative thinking is an urgent, vital tool. From Ada Lovelace, Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto, Afrofuturism, cyberpunk, science fiction to the Tesla convention, dreaming ideas into the world has created shifts that have got us to where we are. The difference between dreaming, imagination and reality is slim when we look back at the process of technological innovation.

The role of fictional narratives and images, leaps in imagination, first steps into the unknown, eccentric ideas - these are all speculative modes for creating change in the history of technology. But what might contemporary speculative thinking look like, and what futures might it create?

This is a discussion with thinkers and technologists, and a practical session to uncover how speculation can create more inventive questions, and therefore make more imaginative demands on our future. These are all great questions for Bristol Technology Festival, with its focus on shaping the next decade.

How can we inject creativity and imagination into the tech world, with the help of thinkers and do-ers, including those who attend Bristol Tech Festival? As Raby and Dunne put it in Speculative Everything, the future is real ‘to the extent to which present alternatives or possibilities for the future are real’. So, let’s sketch out those possibilities.

This event is for anyone working in tech innovation, is a designer or artist, a public lover of technology, as well as young people, activists and writers. It’s an event that provides outreach to a wider audience beyond the tech industry, opening up the debate.

About Invented Futures

Invented Futures is a research collective based at Spike Island art studios and SETsquared Bristol. Invented Futures brings together a network of artists and creative technologists around the principles of design fiction and speculative thinking. These are critical design disciplines that challenge assumptions and conceptions about the role which technology, objects, software and systems play in our everyday life. 

Our workshops, design sprints and roundtable discussions include technologists, writers, artists, researchers, thinkers and designers. Starting with looking at how technological innovation has got to where it is, we use speculative thinking and design fiction to create alternative futures to the given tech culture - through science fictions, experimental AI systems and human-computer interactions, art, film and objects. 

Invented Futures has worked with University of Bristol Innovation and Enterprise, Zebera Design and Innovation, FutureBased (Amsterdam), Tech For Good South West, Spike Island Associates, Bristol Interaction Group, School of Activism and more. Invented Futures created an event for Bristol Tech Fest 2019.  Invented Futures was selected for the Natwest/SETSquared pre-accelerator programme, Back Her Business, in 2020.

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TechSPARK is a not-for-profit network dedicated to connecting, educating and strengthening the digi-tech cluster in the West.

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