Image of people in two lines facing each other

What will the future look like? The Smithsonian Institution has some ideas, but ultimately it’s up to you.

As part of the FUTURES exhibition, the Smithsonian has created a virtual interpretation of the year 2050. The project, called “Your Future Guide,” is an imagining of what the future could look like 30 years from now. After asking a set of questions based on users’ interests and personality type, the tool uses machine learning and storytelling to curate a personalized tour of 2050. The project is free and open to the public, and can be accessed by clicking on this link.

“Ranging from sustainable foods to cryopreservation to the future of transit, these fascinating objects showcase solutions to some of society’s most pressing issues and goals” reads the announcement.

At a time when the future seems bleak for a number of reasons, the project’s goal is to show people that they play a part in what kind of future they want to see. The project was based on research showing that people are more likely to care about a future where they can see themselves.

Image of a robot working on a farm

The future of farming is one of the aspects of the tour.
Credit: The Smithsonian, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, produced by Unicorns & Unicorns

“Through the magic of these cutting-edge technologies, we are able to give users the otherworldly experience of time-traveling to a possible future. That experience can lead all of us to being more engaged citizens and better creative problem solvers,” said Rachel Goslins, director of the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building (AIB).

By helping users envision their future, the project also aims to address the “future gap,” a phenomenon “where we know it’s important to fix or address something for the future, but we have a hard time imagining what to do and how we might get there,” said a spokesperson in an email.

Thinking beyond the confines of the physical museum, the Smithsonian wanted to bring the concepts and experiences of the FUTURES exhibition to anyone and everyone with internet access. To do this, it teamed up with ad agency Goodby Silverstein and Partners and production studio Unicorns and Unicorns to make it come to life. While the project is for all ages, it’s especially for those around the 8th-grade level and up, and hopes to engage young people in STEM and STEAM concepts. “Your Future Guide” will be open until late September this year.

The experience ends with a prompt to commit to a future that you want to see. Choose wisely.

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