“People are people,” Koert van Mensvoort says. “Some things never change. Others change to a level that today we can hardly imagine would ever exist.” The diary of a Thursday in 2067 that Koert van Mensvoort wrote about his protagonist Emma describes some radical changes, but also some things that may still be the same as today. The focus of his ideas is less on technology but more the way human beings will be living.
“We are at a crossroads now,” van Mensvoort says. “We are realizing that technology is not only serving us, but that we are – to a certain extent – also serving our technologies. This is a normal thing because we are co-evolving with our technologies. They help us, give us health, entertainment, a longer life, enough food – all these wonderful things. But now we have to ask: Where do we want to grow? In my opinion we have to say: Wait a minute. Every time we have a new technology it gives us new powers and possibilities but also new risks and problems. That’s a never-ending story. We have already been playing with fire for centuries and we will continue to do this. Now we have to find a way to co-evolve the relationship with technology in a way that it lifts us as humans. Technology should lift our weaknesses and also try to facilitate our dreams. I think that’s the path we have to take.”
Koert van Mensvoort, who was, in his own words, a “whiz kid in video games” and running his own company when he was 15, sees the technology that surrounds us as “next nature”. In his daily work he and the members of his team are exploring this next nature, asking questions like: How is technology becoming natural? What is its dynamics? How can we design, build and live in this new world? “We are exploring a lot of different things,” van Mensvoort recounts. “You can think of a supermarket that will offer in vitro meat, meat that will be growing outside of the animal. We will no longer have to slaughter the meat, which is much more sustainable and animal friendly. And we are now working on a currency for environmental value – that’s a big story. But the real big step will be artificial intelligence at home that will facilitate our needs. I cannot predict the future,” Koert van Mensvoort sums up, “I can only explore various futures and try to be the radar of potential futures that might happen – trying to build a bridge into the future.”
Koert van Mensvoort is an artist and philosopher best known for his work on the philosophical concept of Next Nature. It is his aim to better understand our co-evolutionary relationship with technology and help set out a track towards a future that is rewarding for both humankind and the planet at large. All his work is motivated by a strong personal fascination for the deep impact of media and technology in the lives of people and society at large. He‘s an expert for future human living in the tension field of technology and nature. Van Mensvoort is director of the Next Nature Network.
People illustrationen: sitting girl ©iStock; others©Shotshop