Bright Future

The future seems a great deal brighter with Barak Obama as the new president of the United States of America. Apparently even some republicans think so. According to cognitive scientist George Lakoff, Obama seems to have gotten the hang of storytelling and the proper use of metaphors. Apparently, this is something Swedes appreciate since most of them preferred Obama over McCain. He also seems to have understood the use of Web 2.0 technology and how to reach young people.

One of Barak Obama’s celebrity fans, Oprah Winfrey, said that “When I look into the future, it's so bright it burns my eyes.” However, there are some people who would like the future to be somewhat darker. National Geographic for example, featuring the article “Our Vanishing Night” in their November issue 2008. Light pollution is becoming a major concern but there are also solutions. The Starry Night Lights website has recognised that dark skies are green and lists lights that are supposed to be less polluting.

Las week I was invited to Infracontrol’s Future Party. After inspiring speeches from CEO Johan Höglund, automotive expert Hans Nyman, and adventuress Renata Chlumska as well as spirit-lifting songs from Göteborg Gospel we all took the elevators to the year 2015 on the sixth floor. There we found demonstrations of Infracontrol’s future products. We could be guided to the nearest free parking space, or have mobile stations warning us about wild animals crossing the roads, or remotely handle incidents in underground stations making trains and escalators stop and start at our will, or get commuter information recommending taking the train instead of the car because of traffic jams.

However, many of their so called future products are already here. One of their current projects is looking into how the lights at Arlanda airport could be adjusted to shine only when needed. This would cut the energy costs a lot, but also contribute to decreasing light pollution.

What I like most about Infracontrol is their dedication to develop technology based on human needs. Although their solutions are very high-tech and complex from a technical perspective, they put usability first whether it concerns systems for energy, traffic, or security management. They also take a sustainability perspective on their technology, wanting to help people and organisations to become more efficient in their use of resources.

I think both Barak Obama and Infracontrol want the future to be both brighter and darker, and that they will achieve this by applying metaphors and technology when appropriate.

The photo is from Lights in Alingsås 2008.

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