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Introducing A Future World 2021: climate action, cyborgs & cities on Mars

A cultural reset needs radical thinkers, scientists and creators to show us what it looks like – this April, A Future World is pushing it further than ever before

When we first launched A Future World in 2019, the idea that an airborne, highly contagious disease would soon drastically redefine the way we lead our lives, in the way that it has, would have seemed like an absurd nightmare. But, by 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic had overhauled everything we thought we knew. As we move past the year anniversary of the moment countries around the world went into lockdown, the question remains: what’s next?

A Future World takes this moment of reset and interrogates what we do with the chance to start again. A network, community, and platform focussing on the intersection of science, technology and pop culture, it's back for the month of April, featuring those people paving new pathways for our planet: whether that's activists, inventors, fashion pioneers, technologists, or AI scientists. Because not only has Covid definitively not killed the climate crisis, it’s also given rise to newly urgent questions that were tied together with the need for co-ordinated climate action all along: such as, why continue to eyeball social media 24/7 in a post-pandemic world? How can science actually carve out radical social progress in the world if it’s so pale, and male? And what do young people want out of the cities they call home, anyway? 

Working with adidas Originals to journey into new futures, we’ll be spotlighting the lab-grown materials that are helping them design more sustainably. Kicking off the month, Ghanaian architectural technologist Iddris Sandu unpacks his diverse vision for a new “default” in the tech world, and discusses what reality means to him. As well as Sandu, we bring together different thinkers in head-to-head podcasts to debate the future of three fundamental aspects of how we live today: Jia Tolentino and Charli XCX on the future of social media, and Zora’s founder Dee Geons and writer Dean Kissick on the future of NFTs.

Elsewhere, A Future World editorials venture to Florida to meet a designer incorporating un-used Burmese Python skins to rethink the way leather is used in fashion, and to London to hear from a group of teenage girls on what they actually think about pollution, gentrification and life in the city as they come of age (the answers might surprise you). Going deeper into the human body and all the way to outer space, we also meet the cyborgs creating whole new senses through their biohacks, and explore what life in the first self-sustainable city on Mars will be like.

And, in a series of thought-provoking roundtables, we also take aim at everything you did for yourself in the pandemic year – from learning graphic design in your spare time, to improving your self-care routine – and challenge thinkers, critics and practitioners to turn those things into ecological good. And, after a year which saw the graphics of protest become more charged than ever, we connect technologists, designers and activists with artists to create their own powerful mission statements: nine posters for a future world.  Plus: viral robot dogs, biohacked bodies, and postcards to the future from figures from figures like Marina Abramović, Legacy Russell, Rema, and Vivienne Westwood. If this past year has proved anything, it’s that the future is here already – what do you want it to be?