Microsoft will build computers even more sleek and beautiful than Apple’s. Robots will 3-D-print cool shoes that are personalised just for you. Neural networks will take over medical diagnostics, and Snapchat will try to take over the entire world. The women and men in these pages are the technical, creative, idealistic visionaries who are bringing the future to your doorstep. You might not recognize their names—they’re too busy working to court the spotlight—but you’ll soon hear about them a lot. They represent the best of what’s next.
Much of what seems troublesome in digital culture today – the necessity of ‘personal brands’; the ubiquity of a politics of feeling; the transformation of sociality into unpaid labour; the unmarked blending of business contacts and ‘friends’ – much of this exaggerates letterish trends that for generations have worked to mix the private and the public while seeming to maintain the border between them.
The rise of ‘the fact’ during the 17th century came at the expense of the power of authority. Could the digital age reverse how we decide what is true and what is not?