Waag is a Futurelab 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 expedition
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 an expedition to planet B over the next four years. Every year we will work on a new theme.
2023: Other Intelligences
Throughout the year, Waag Futurelab is taking a closer look at the concept of intelligence. The current focus on artificial intelligence is creating a narrow and problematic view of intelligence. It even carries through to the point where digital systems and technology are even ascribed a "higher" form of intelligence. While the force of AI is not in its intelligence, but primarily in the concentration of data and capital, and thus power, in a small number of companies.
Time for a broader understanding of intelligence. What different forms of intelligence can we distinguish? And what forms do we need for an open, fair and inclusive future? What does the obsession with artificial intelligence bring us? What implications do our current understanding of intelligence have for our education and our future?
2022: What if we change the rules of the game?
TINA: There Is No Alternative? It's the year 2022. Time to re-open the debate. Welcome back to Waag's expedition to planet B: what if we could design a whole new planet? What economic system would we put in use? This year, Waag will research what happens if we change the rules of the game.
In 2022, Waag will research how we can reach a future that is open, fair and inclusive. We will do so together with you, by taking a new approach to our systems. What if we no longer take growth as the aim of our economy, but, for example, solidarity, circularity, or the assurance that we can still breathe oxygen in 2090? What if we re-evaluate the concept of value? What if we think from the commons? And what if we would completely redesign our economic system, with society and nature at its core?
Join us! This year, you will find Waag throughout the country again. Explore the workings of the world's current economic value systems during the Dig Deeper programmes. Find us during festival season for a deep dive into the question what will happen if we change the rules of the game - we will, in fact, play games to explore this. Also, the Future Talks programme series returns in 2022. In collaboration with designers, artists and societal actors we will question the role of design, technology and the arts in the challenges we are currently facing as societies.
In the first year of our expedition to planet B, we became 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 took a walk around the countryside and asked everyone we met 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 walked 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 complied with corona virus safety measures and provided us with a safe way to think and talk about the future together.
The conversation about the future was central to this first year of the expedition. We invited everyone to come for a walk with us and talk with local residents, vague acquaintances, and distant friends. We asked 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 chatted 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 did 2021 look like?
Waag organised both large and small walks at various locations in the Netherlands, during which we discuss the future. The major walks each are focused on a fixed, pre-determined theme. Everyone was welcome to participate. Each walk was introduced with optional reading and viewing material, so participants could familiarise themselves with the theme they would 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 took a stroll around the country and talk with passers-by about their desired future. Based on these conversations, we made a series of video portraits of Dutch people talking about their dreams of the future. These future exploration walks took place prior to the larger, thematic walks.
Thematic walks (large walks)
During our thematic walks, participants from all walks of life can, 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 were collected by Waag.
Where: Groningen, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Maastricht
When: From 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: Land van ons food forest, near Lettele and Deventer
When: From Saturday June 5, 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.
In collaboration with: Land van ons
North Sea walk
Where: Amsterdam, Goeree and Scheveningen
When: From Saturday 3 July, 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.
In collaboration with: Ambassade van de Noordzee
Smart citizen walk
Where: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht
When: From Saturday July 10, 2021
Themes: digital identity, Europe, national identity, immigration, emigration, sovereignty, citizenship, and national borders.
The visions of the future that we collected from our walking series formed the basis of Expedition: future, which took place at the end of September 2021. During the festival, all the output collected from the walks helped us as we attempted to answer the following question: what is our collective vision of the future, and what can we do in the present to achieve it? This was Expedition: future.
Hello, this is the future?
During the first expedition Waag started a campaign called 'Hello, it's the future!' It consisted of a telephone number with a voice message asking you what you wanted the future to know, or what you would like to ask of the future. The banner with the phone number was visible on de Waag and our outpost planet B on Science Park throughout the month of September. Video maker Jimena Gauna made a video series accompanying the campaign.
Come and get your future
The results of the campaign, as well as the work Waag and all of our partners have done during the years of 2020 and 2021, were put together in the installation 'Come and get your future'. In a futuristic dome, we predicted people's future and engaged in meaningful conversation about future thinking. Also, quotes and excerpts of the work of Waag and her partners were exposed on large banners wrapped around the dome, and the public was invited to add to the installation by leaving stickers and voice messages with their thoughts. In various telephone lines, messages from the future could be heard. Come and get your future was part of Dutch Design Week 2021 and Museumnacht Amsterdam 2021.