Equally fascinating as it is disturbing, the Victoria and Albert Museum gets visitors questioning just how much we should be depending on technology… 

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Delving deep into what our future could potentially look like, the V&A’s exhibition instead of answering questions asks them to explore the increasing dependence (good and bad) on technology and how it will affect our development as humans.

From robots that can do our laundry (which is still in the very early days of development before you get too excited) all the way to a variety of ways people have been exploring how to extend their lives, it is an exhibition that is equally fascinating as it is disturbing.

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Divided into a number of sections focusing on particular questions such as what makes us human? Are cities for everyone? Who wants to live forever? and uses a variety of different technological objects and discoveries to explore each topic to great effect.

Particular highlights of the exhibition include a driverless car that plans out different routes according to traffic and other potential road issues, a 13 year old aspiring architect Mohammed Quataish’s model of how he envisages the future of Syrian city Aleppo and photographer Hanif Shoaei’s images of a couple in bed on their phones. Each object displayed offers a perceptive and balanced look at the way in which technological advances have impacted on the world.

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The more you wonder around this exhibition, the more curious and fascinating The Future Starts Here becomes. As the technology becomes more advanced and the variety of ideas (which can become slightly overwhelming at times) on display in the exhibition, it makes you wonder about the long term implications of advances of technology – the negative impact in which inanimate objects do more of our thinking for us and the positive in which it can help protect those in need (see the design for the Maria Grazia Cutuli Primary school in Afghanistan).

The Future Starts Here challenges and gets visitors thinking about whether technology brings us together or is in fact tearing us apart to the point where we are actually becoming living and breathing versions of robots. It argues that while technology has a purpose and use in life, it can also disturb and threaten society as the sections ‘who wants to live forever? and ‘does democracy still work?’ particularly highlight.

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As always, the V&A’s exhibition is wonderfully presented and offers a real insight. But it can become slightly overwhelming in places and is perhaps in need of some sharpening up and focus to make it thoroughly satisfying.

But, overall The Future Starts Here is a fascinating, engaging and thought-provoking exhibition to visit.

By Emma Clarendon

The Future Starts Here is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum until the 4th November. For more information visit: https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/the-future-starts-here

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐