Waag is a Future Lab for technology and society.
The future is now
Every day we are confronted with uncertainties surrounding the future of our planet, social inequality, and the impact of technology. Such major issues and developments seem inevitable and inescapable. Yet, if we centre public values when designing our future, we believe a different world is possible: a world that is more open, fair and inclusive. Our future is determined by the actions and the choices we make today.
Planet B expeditions
To bring about a better world, Waag works to enact practical change in the present. One of the ways we do this is by envisioning an ideal place called planet B. Imagine what would happen if we were allowed to completely redesign a planet. How would we do that? What would we take with us? What would we leave behind? What social, environmental, and technological structures would we build to create an open, fair and inclusive world?
To explore this idea, Waag will be organising seven expeditions to planet B over the next four years. Every six months we will work on a new theme.
Expedition #1: FUTURE
In the first expedition, we will become navigators in order to create a roadmap for the future. What do we mean by the future? And what do we expect from it? To find out, Waag will take a walk around the countryside and ask everyone we meet along the way. What does a desirable future look like to you? What do you need from it and what could you contribute to it? Together, we will walk towards an ideal future. Why walk? Firstly, because walking allows us to look at the connections between people and the surrounding environment. Secondly, because walking complies with the current corona virus safety measures and provides us with a safe way to think and talk about the future together.
The conversation about the future is central to this expedition. We invite everyone to come for a walk with us and talk with local residents, vague acquaintances, and distant friends. We will be asking questions to as diverse a group of people as possible: in the city, in the countryside, and across the social and cultural layers of society. We will chat with old and young people, scientists, citizens, administrators, artists, and thinkers. To design a future that works for everyone, everyone must be allowed a seat at the design table.
What does expedition #1 look like?
Waag will organise both large and small walks at various locations in the Netherlands, during which we will discuss the future. The major walks will each be focused on a fixed, pre-determined theme. Everyone is welcome to participate. Each walk will be introduced with optional reading and viewing material, so participants can familiarise themselves with the theme they will be talking about during the walk.
Future exploration walks (small walks)
During the future exploration walks, a group of ‘city makers’, artists, designers, tech developers and scientists will take a stroll around the country and talk with passers-by about their desired future. Based on these conversations, we will make a series of video portraits of Dutch people talking about their dreams of the future. These future exploration walks will take place prior to the larger, thematic walks.
Thematic walks (large walks)
During our thematic walks, participants from all walks of life will, with the help of our moderators and interactive forms of conversation, delve deeper into the chosen theme of the day. The “output” of these conversations will then be collected by Waag.
Where: Groningen, near Eemshaven
When: Saturday, April 24, 2021
Themes: data and ownership, cyber waste, the relationship between the physical and virtual world, the future of the internet, the power held by large tech companies, energy consumption, the impact of big data, algorithms, and AI.
Where: Lettele food forest, near Deventer
When: Saturday, May 29, 2021
Themes: caring for the land, balance between the city and the countryside, culture and nature, different forms of ownership (such as the commons), biodiversity, food supply, local food production, climate adaptation, and permaculture.
North Sea walk
Where: West Netherlands (exact location TBA)
When: Saturday, June 12, 2021
Themes: ecology, the rights of all living things, fisheries, the sea, trade, public spaces, the value of the wilderness, and the balance between nature and the economy.
Where: Southern Netherlands (exact location TBA)
When: Saturday, July 10, 2021
Themes: digital identity, Europe, national identity, immigration, emigration, sovereignty, citizenship, and national borders.
Festival in the Future
The visions of the future that we collect from our walking series will form the basis of the Festival in the Future, which will take place at the end of September 2021. During the festival, all the output collected from the walks will aid us as we attempt to answer the following question: what is our collective vision of the future, and what can we do in the present to achieve it? The festival will be the final phase of our first expedition, FUTURE, before we ready ourselves for the theme of the next expedition, REFRAME.