Welcome to the Course

We are delighted to welcome you to our Inspire Digital Programme for Years 9, 10 & 11, called “Visions of the Future”. Over the next few months, we’re looking forward to taking you through four classes full of articles, videos, podcasts, and more, allowing you both to follow your existing interests and discover new interests, whilst encouraging you to think critically, and helping you to reach your full academic potential.

Visions of the Future

Although it may sound like a cliché, it certainly seems true to say that technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace, revolutionising the way that we live in the twenty-first century. The last couple of decades have seen huge progress in a number of areas of technology that are promising ever-greater changes to our lives. They are all of potentially enormous benefit to our wellbeing, but like many new technologies in the past, they also have the potential for unforeseen side effects. We are witnessing unprecedented leaps forward at the cutting-edge of science, and this programme will explore some of the key frontiers that stand out today, from artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, to gene-editing and solutions to the climate crisis.

But as with any major change, emerging technologies do not come without their challenges and controversies. Wide-ranging questions are beginning to be asked more loudly, and with greater urgency; this is fertile ground for debate, with few settled answers. These questions encompass such areas as ethics (for instance, the use of technologies in health), philosophy (questions of personhood, and the nature of progress), politics (how we organise ourselves in face of these profound changes), and more. As we’ll find throughout this programme, the study of the Humanities can help us grapple with the questions and challenges that new technology poses.

A study of the past, too, is essential to any understanding of what the future may bring. Through history, technological change has been a tremendous driver of change, and throughout this course we’ll be looking at some key examples of this, from the world of the Ancient Greeks and Romans right through to the present day, as well as exploring the historical origins of some of today’s most crucial technologies – including the surprisingly long history of computing.

Of course, it is impossible ever to know what the future will bring: the only certainty is that we cannot predict the future. But throughout this programme, we will be encouraging you to think critically and creatively about all of the topics we’ll be covering, reflecting on what you read, watch and listen to, as you formulate your own answers to the question: What is your Vision of the Future?

Matt Garraghan (Editor) & Dr Tom Kemp (Associate Editor)