First post by newly-appointed director (and regular contributor) Alexander Clelland:
“Unconscionable confession: Until last week I have never seen Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001 – A Space Odyssey’. This terrible omission is compounded by the fact that my father worked on the film.
On watching it I was struck – alongside the mesmerising cinematography and powerful use of silence – by the number of futuristic products that are now part of our everyday lives.
Chess-playing computers, in-flight entertainment, voice recognition, video phones and flat screen televisions all feature in Dr. Dave Bowman’s extraordinary journey. But many of these devices, as fantastical as they must have seemed to a contemporary audience, were in fact not that far away.
A prototype chess-playing computer already existed in 1968 and a prototype flat screen TV appeared in 1972. Voice-print identification was released in 1976. The first picture phone was demonstrated at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
The level of innovation was impressive, given this was nearly half a century ago.
But many of these products did not make it into mainstream use for decades. Chess-playing computers did not defeat champions until the late 1980s. Installation of personal in-flight entertainment began in the early 1990s. Bandwidth restrictions meant that personal video communication only became practical with the advent of broadband internet.
Today, the pace of innovation is staggering. We had plenty of time to think about how these innovations might change our lives – for better or for worse – and their implications. We don’t have that luxury any more. Innovative and disruptive brands need to tell their stories boldly, but thoughtfully.
Kubrick’s masterpiece featured a number of corporate logos and entities, many of which no longer exist. Some do. IBM has played a crucial role in the evolution of modern technology, but with an increasing orientation towards consulting, the importance of the human element is growing.
Across a wide range of sectors, from financial services to retailing, there is a partial retreat from digital purism that acknowledges the value of the human touch. While AI and machine learning are driving advances in technology, they will never be able to beat human beings for impulsive creativity.
The question is how the brands currently turning science fiction into science fact will evolve and survive. How will their story be told?
Let’s not leave it to a HAL 9000.”