Futuristic technologies have never sounded more like they're right on the horizon. From lab-grown meat to virtual reality to fleets of drones that can transport goods almost anywhere, scientists and major technology companies are promising incredible changes that could shift what the world looks like just years from now. Designer Fernando Barbella is both entranced by and concerned with what all of these changes could mean, and he's created a series of images that depict what a not-so-distant year might look like with all of these advancements.
Titled "Signs from the Near Future," Barbella's new project takes the form of a Tumblr filled with photographs that present what's coming down the road in a manner that often seems as though it could turn out to be eerily accurate. "I've been reading lots of articles and news lately related with innovation in science and technology," Barbella, who's based in Barcelona, tells The Verge by email. "New materials, mashups between living organisms and nanotechnologies, improved capabilities for formerly 'dumb' and inanimate things... there a zillion things going on around us!"
Barbella wants his signs to not just depict that momentum and progress, but to reflect the potentially disturbing aspects of those advances as well. "The fact is all these things are going to cease being just 'projects' to became part of our reality at any time soon," he says. "I feel that as we increasingly depend on technology, we will probably have less space for individual judgment to make decisions."
Beyond that, Barbella sees an interesting dynamic in the public's push and pull against what new technology allows us to do. Though the technology grants people access to information and other cultures, it also poses issues of privacy and ethics that hold that back. "I think we're going to get use to it," Barbella says. His images offer a look at why those issues are certain to keep coming — and at the same time, why many will ultimately fall aside.
Rich McCormick contributed to this report.
Hint: Use the 's' and 'd' keys to navigate
All images reprinted with permission of Fernando Barbella.