In the upcoming The Future of Us exhibition, the ideas and visions of over 140 private and public organisations and institutions, as well as individuals, were sought in sculpting probable and plausible scenarios of Singapore's tomorrow. These scenarios are explored in six immersive and interactive zones. Pulling together a range of future-thinking projects, thought leaders in the fields of arts and sciences, as well as various facets of the local community, The Future of Us will materialise these possibilities into a tangible experience to jumpstart conversations about our future.
'The future is all about the past'
In the Theatre of Generations, visitors follow along interweaving life stories of two sets of characters - one from the 1960s and another from 2030. These stories epitomise the continuity in our Singapore Spirit and Story. Singapore composer Dick Lee believes in viewing the future against the context of the past. He stresses the importance of not losing sight of the Singapore identity as the nation grows and globalises.
"To me, the future is all about the past. I've always advocated the importance of knowing where one comes from - not just personally, but on a more universal scale. After all, how could we understand ourselves if we had no context?
"The past of course translates to the present, for who we are, is a culmination - the grand result of our past - and who we are to be is the evolution of who we are. To move forward confidently, we must take everything that has happened, and that is happening, into account, for ignoring it would bring a future that is one-dimensional and hollow.
"Having been part of Singapore's story, (and indeed participating actively in the formation of her cultural identity), I have seen history mould our persona, experienced the change first hand, and have been encouraged to contribute to its evolution via the arts.
"Since I was young, I have pursued relentlessly the existence of my Singaporean-ness in my work, at first not even knowing what it was, and what it meant. But now, after a lifetime of searching, I'm proud to see that we have emerged tall and strong, and certain of whom we are.
"I hope that this strong feeling will carry us into the future, that we will continue to prosper, innovate and grow with this sense of self, for without it, we would surely fall behind, and be in the shadow of the rest of the world."
Dick Lee's sharing is one of the many that inspires and envelopes the exhibition. More written contributions by Singaporeans, including writer Alvin Pang, blogger Atikah Amalina, designer and businesswoman Kavita Thulasidas and nurse Sister Thomasina, are featured in the Ideas Bank on the exhibition's website (www.thefutureofus.sg).
New technologies for new living ideas
Symphony of the City unfolds the reveries of each character seen earlier in Theatre of Generations. In this section, visitors get to explore how transportation options, living spaces and leisure concepts can evolve and integrate into the pulse of the city. The themes presented in this multimedia zone further project the direction that Singapore's development and economy could be geared towards. To this, Henn Tan - CEO of digital innovation company, Trek 2000 - shared his view of Singapore as a "Smart Nation" that is at the forefront of technological advancements in various fields.
"I believe that the future of technology in Singapore lies in harnessing the Internet of Things (IoT) to advance society and set new global benchmarks within the technology industry. As outlined by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the vision for Singapore is to embark on a new era of growth and become the world's first Smart Nation. Leveraging on IoT, becoming a Smart Nation entails the seamless connection of the whole of Singapore in order to transform the way we live, work and interact.
"The advent of new technologies within segments such as medical, housing and transportation will bring about enhancement to Singaporean's lives. Soon, the advancement of early detection capabilities could give us the ability to monitor one's temperature, bodily fluids or any irregularities that may arise due to cancer. Singapore as a Smart Nation is still in its early stages; however I look forward to the next 50 years of economic prosperity and innovation for Singapore."
Henn Tan's sharing was also captured in the Ideas Bank.
Some of these advancements are already on track. Forward-looking innovations by students and institutions weaved into the exhibition includes rapid wireless charging roads that transfer power over an air gap; low-impact, fully-automated vehicles that cater to the last mile; and smart watches that assist the visually impaired in their mobility needs.
While many of these developments are still in the incubation stage, having such innovations in Singapore's core infrastructure is expected to bring greater convenience and inclusiveness, and allow future Singaporeans to live longer and better.
Family values and Lifelong Learning continue to be pillars of society
Apart from advancements on a macro level, Singaporeans can also zoom in and peek into the homes and communities of tomorrow. Named Home Tomorrow, this zone explores how the humanity of day-to-day interaction between people - whether it is in the way healthcare professionals aid patients or the opportunities for students to carve their own inroads for their education - could function in an increasingly technologically-equipped society.
"I believe the future of healthcare in Singapore lies in balancing the race to excellence with an equal measure of care and kindness for patients. After all, listening and caring, and feeling and loving for the good of the other person is as old as the existence of the human race. It is our second nature and, therefore, can be effortlessly manifested in the care and kindness we give to our patients." - Sister Thomasina, nurse and midwife with Mount Alvernia Hospital; featured in Ideas Bank.
Some have also expressed the desire to see an educational system that is less about grades and more about genuine learning anchored in involvement.
"Educating Singaporeans does not and will not stop at completing major academic milestones. In fact the concept of lifelong learning has become a motto and a way of life here." - Sarojini Padmanathan, Chief Operating Officer of SINDA; featured in Ideas Bank.
"I envision a future where students embrace the truth that gaining knowledge isn't just about getting better grades or building a bright future for themselves. It's about contribution, not achievement. It's about making an impact. It's about serving others. It's about making a difference in the lives of others." - Daniel Wong, author of The Happy Student; featured in Ideas Bank.
Home Tomorrow aggregates more than just the ideas of thought influences in our community. Novel ideas by children were also referenced in designing the exhibition. They shared imaginative innovations such as a layered city, solar-powered machines, residential blocks adjoined to nature as well as vertical farming that supplies to the community.
Incidentally, some of these possibilities are already being explored currently, such as the Crystarium, an urban farming concept that explores the incorporation of food production into the daily lives of city dwellers; the Life-to-Hawker Bagasse, a project to repurpose sugarcane drink by-produce into environmentally-friendly places using existing hawker tools; and SkyEye, an application that allows users to report a crime at a click of a button.
The visions of these individuals, organisations and more were pieced together to narrate the possibilities for Singapore's future.
See your own hopes for Singapore shared in the Blue Skies
From December 1, 2015, every visitor to The Future of Us exhibition will have the same opportunity to share their own hopes and dreams for the future. Their dreams and commitment will be pooled together in a segment called Blue Skies, where visitors can not only share their own projections of the future, but also read others' as they join a constellation of wishes in the digital galaxy. Members of the public can also pen their wishes at www.thefutureofus.sg/share-your-dreams/contribute.