The Mirror room is making you aware of all the data you produce. Who owns all this data, and are we able to reclaim them? The Mirror room is part of the FabCity in Amsterdam, a temporary sustainable urban area, where young creative’s present their solutions for current urban issues.
The panel says: ‘’Examine and experience the pros and cons of our data-based life, and the effects on your privacy, social interaction, health and security.’’ This innovative Mirror installation offers you a whole new experience on what it feels like to become data.
When you enter, you type in your name; then you have to stand in the middle of the room. You are surrounded by mirrors and I felt strange not knowing what would happen next. An electronic voice welcomed me by my name and then begins by giving my physical details: my age, my weight, my height, and my heart pulsations, my BMI while some images are projected on the mirrors…
The next step is kind of surprising, hearing an AI talking to me reminds me of the movie “Her”: where people start building relationships with Artificial Intelligence. I had the feeling of entering the future. Still standing, alone in the middle of the room, a succession of simulations and animations, are scrolling around you. Immerse you in a strange atmosphere, one that I never experienced before. At this point, I still didn’t know what’s the purpose of all of this until the electronic voice came back to me and give me my “data profile”. Before leaving the room, the voice asked me if I agreed to make my data public or not… I had to answer by looking at the YES or at the NO.
The computers in the room registered all my emotions during all the experience and transformed them into data. It analyzed my physical data, tested my fear, my preferences… and established a profile that was handed out in print while exiting the room. So, who do you see when you look into the mirror? There is a difference between what you perceive and what you are. The experience makes you realize that WE ARE DATA : there is your reflection, who you think you are but it makes you realize you are also an infinite composition of data.
Well, the program is still experimental and not totally accurate but the purpose of what is called an “art experience“ by its creators is to make us realize how collecting selling and using data, even if we’re not aware of it, can have a profound impact on our personal and professional life.
Indeed, while more and more applications are capable to analyze our physical condition and emotions, imagine the infinite possibilities that could give. All depend on who has access to our data and what are our rights on them? Governments, companies could have some advantages to use our data…
Brands could also use our emotional data on a marketing purpose… Reading our emotions is becoming the next challenge for brands as emotions represent a huge factor in the decision-making process… And thanks to data collection they would be able to build algorithms to predict customers preferences and likelihood of purchasing from their emotions.
It’s already happening, recently Belgium police advised not use Facebook’s new reactions buttons as they consider it as a new way for Facebook to use your profile on a marketing purpose. With more information about your mood, reactions, emotions, it’s easier for advertisers to reach you at the right moment and at the right emplacement. By creating algorithms that could make calculations on your mood, considering your reaction to a post. However, the technology could be use in a positive sense too. As applications could analyze in an early stage a disease and suggest a cure. It could determine easily your skin or heart conditions…
The most important is that we keep the right to control our own data and to be aware of who and when they are used. Privacy regulations are becoming more and more essential and urgent in this world where all are data have the possibility to become public.
It´s always seems impossible until it´s done – Nelson Mandela
Of course, no matter what you want to achieve, you will be confronted to many obstacles, you will doubt and be afraid to fail. However, don’t be afraid of failure, successful people often describe failure as a condition to succeed. You can learn a lot from failure. Failure is a need to go further. And that’s clearly true; you’ll never know how far you can go unless you try one more time. If people keep failing it is only because they give up at some point… Because at the end, when you try again, you only have two possibilities, fail again or succeed. And if you keep going, you will certainly find the path to success.
Don´t wait this moment of your life when you´ll realize that nothing will never be like before to fulfill your deepest dreams and desires as long as you can. As long as you have the physical capabilities, do not let yourself being stopped by any obstacle.
Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm – Winston Churchill
We dreamed about a new Mt Everest adventure, and were working on it for the last 1,5 years. But no financial partner was really willing to take the risk, neither a broadcaster. In February we launched a Kickstarter campaign. After this failed we felt like giving up. It wasn’t meant to be. Was it not the right time? Is it not possible? We could only answer this with no and we decided to just GO! Not giving up and make it happen anyway. We had already spent a lot of time and money on this project, so not going there was not an option for us. We just had to find different ways to do it.
I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have – Thomas Jefferson
So here we are, last Sunday our cameraman and sound engineer left for Kathmandu. There they teamed up with Lynne and Noel Hanna and will spend 2 months on Mount Everest together to realize this incredible production. We still don´t know if it will be a success or not, if people will like it or not, but at least we didn´t stay on a failure and kept going. And we believe in it!
With never giving up you have to keep believing and hoping. It goes hand in hand with failure’s acceptance. You are the only one that can put limits, barriers to yourself. If you keep believe after failures it will bring you further…and then, you’ll learn to never give up. You cannot give up on something that counts for you only because you failed at it once. It would avoid you to torment yourself with those “What if…?” that we all know. These “what if?” will prevent you to fully enjoy and appreciate your life. And guess what? I believe that the best way to prevent them is … to never give up!
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas A. Edison
It is funny to think that this production is in a way to giving also others the opportunity to experience an Everest’s expedition, a true experience of perseverance. It makes you suffer, doubt so you can go beyond your limits to achieve what you want to achieve. You’ll see that once you crossed all obstacles: face extreme cold, adapt yourself to the low oxygen level,… standing on the top of the world make you feel more alive than never. You will forget all you have been through to arrive there so you can fully enjoy the moment; the relief, the beauty around you, immensity. You’ll see that all your efforts, sweat, fears can lead to something that really worth it. That is why we hope we’ll be able to share with you all these unique sensations through virtual reality.
Fall seven times, stand up eight – Japanese proverb
Working to fulfill a dream gives energy to your life…
Nothing should stop you to build the life that you want. Make projects that make you feel alive and never giving in on them. Never let a place for regrets and complaints in your life, it’s too short and fragile for that. Nothing is impossible, the best like the worst, keep that in mind.
Recent documentaries and movies dismantled the hidden face of finance and banking sector and showed how they truly are. The wolf of Wall Street, the big short, Inside Job unveiled some complex and scary pieces of info about this “big money industry” on which we have no influence but can have so much impact. Speculation, hedge fund managers, private equity fund managers, real estate fund managers, and future and shorts… The industry is often depicted as a dehumanized world in which the only goal is to make more money.
What do I know about banking? Not so much, I hope the bank keeps my money safe but don’t try to understand what is behind this complex system. However, is it okay to know so little about what are banks doing with our money? As an individual always looking for ways to make this place on earth more pleasant and better, I believe that we SHOULD be aware and interested of what our banks are doing.
What if the bank invests in the nuclear arms industry industries or very polluting industries, as many of them do?A recent Belgium’s study revealed that our money placement, were at the top of our carbon footprint with 100 tons of CO2 per year. That is so much more than our consumption and production footprint so we should care about the banks investments. We can make a choice by choosing a bank that doesn’t do this kind of investment. Big improvements have been made in this direction, particularly by the DIVEST movement; an international movement which only goal is to put away investment from polluting and fossil energy corporations through petitions and campaigns. I believe that these kind of initiatives are necessary to build a better world. Finally, changing our behaviors, sharing our beliefs and international movements of this type have all the same common purpose to influence the settled globalized system runs by big corporations.
Luckily some “ethical banks” are emerging; these banks are working according to the same model as the usual ones but with a different guideline: transparency and trustful policies. Their first objective is not to make profit and enrich the elite but invest and support actions and companies with social and environmental purposes; letting their customers aware of the bank’s activities. Then, choosing a more responsible bank can be a way to show that we don´t agree with the current system and would like to make it change. They are more and more present and popular in Europe.
But still they are part of the financial sector and work on the same model. I would like to explore if we can do without them? So what are our possibilities?
Alternatives to the current banking system exist; new currencies are emerging with communitarian monetary systems. A good example is the district of Brixton in London which has its own “Brixton pound” with its own printed bills and coins. I see these initiatives as a clever way to break the globalized consensus settled in the world today coming with a lot of advantages but some undesirable effects too. It reconciles communities, reduces the production circuit and proves that pull ourselves away from the usual national and international bank system is possible. On top of that, they personalized their money appearance and its 10 pounds bill has the face of David Bowie printed on it; which is much more fun than the Queen! Those solutions are more sustainable as the economy doesn’t only profit to the elite but encourage local economy and small businesses, while limiting environmental impact.
But what to do with your savings? Today, interest rates are so low and economy so fragile that it´s difficult to trust banks for our savings. Savings that we want to make for our children to have an education or to save for a nice holiday. Some people would just take out their money from the bank and hide it under their mattress. But actually, our possibilities are wider today. Crowdfunding platforms and projects like ‘kickstarter’ and ‘kiss kiss bank bank’ for example are a good way to place your money in projects that you believe in. However, you will not be able to send your children to university through crowdfunding invests. So, if you keep looking, there are still other solutions to make profit from your invests… Going in this direction, new crowdfunding platforms like www.oneplanetcrowd.com allows you to invest in some startups and businesses’ projects with the possibility to get good percentage from it in return. Or, invest directly in renewable energy for example seems like a responsible option too to make profit if you’re concerned about the environment and sustainable solutions to fossil fuels and want to slow the bank industry’s power.
So, making businesses, profit, investments, savings without banks is possible; collectivity and sharing have a lot of promises.
Since a few months I have passed my 40’s. I become more and more aware that a lot has changed in those years that I have enjoyed on this planet. More than I could imagine….It brings the question to mind what in the coming 40 years, more will change. What are the game changers and what will be solutions to the big problems that the last decades this so called time of prosperity have brought.
To show you how times have changed and at the same time unravelled the mist of so-called prosperity I take you to my childhood. In my street where I grew up, in Amsterdam in the nineties there was a bakery, a milkman with fresh cheese. A tobacco shop, a grocery store with great fruit and vegetables, and a store that we called ‘’Jantje van alles’’. All these shops had everything that a normal household needed. And these products were packaged for you in paper bags.
With the coming of the supermarkets, these shops disappeared and the immersive introduction of plastic became a reality. And without exaggerating plastic waste became one of the most critical environmental issues in the world. The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is described as a 7th continent and is a product of our way of living. It is made out of plastic and has direct impact on our ecosystem, livelihood and food chain.
Plastic is still an easy and cheap material to produce for industries and with the coming of 3D printers’, plastic has a bright new future. Knowing that only 10% of plastic is recycled, it’s time to raise the alarm and change our way of production and consumption.
A few years ago I was not so much aware of the impact of these changes. The realisation of fact that all you buy is packaged in plastic. Makes you aware of your role as consumer. With the effect that I can’t do any shopping without having guilty feelings.
Luckily more and more people has the same guilty feelings and are trying to have a more responsible behaviour and reduce considerably their wastes. This is just about new habits to adopt and more reflection when you are doing your groceries or throwing your garbage away.
It started with bringing your own bag to the store, and re-used the ones you had. Separate the plastic waste, from the rest of the garbage. But that is not enough. A new mentality is needed, to avoid plastic packaging. By using paper bags and bringing your own sacks again. And even then you can’t avoid paradoxical situations: “should I choose the organic cucumber in plastic packaging” or “the non-organic one without packaging”. When you want to have a responsible behaviour, this kind of decisions matters: you have to choose between supporting this “plastic mania” or eating these pesticides poisoning our lands.
Some still see a positive side to plastics as an opportunity for sustainable development. It is actually a cheap material that we can reuse and reuse again through recycling. Some entrepreneur and communities are inspired to change from a linear to a circular relationship with plastic. This is always motivating to see people thinking out of the box and looking for alternatives solutions for the good of our planet.
An inspiring story is that of Wilco and Edwin from Clean 2 Antarctica, they are convinced we can have a zero waste community. And to prove that they will go on expedition to the South Pole in a vehicle entirely built from recycled plastics and powered by solar energy. This is a way to demonstrate that “Zero Waste” and “Zero emissions” are possible… Imagine the relief of clean air and clean oceans! It is not only their opinion but also that of the younger generation. That is why children in this project to collect plastic waste and shape them through 3D printing in a message to the world. This project is a message of hope showing the promises of plastic recycling and clean technology to live in a cleaner planet. It is just one of many great projects only here in the Netherlands. Possibilities are infinite with recycling and reusing. Each time that you are closing your garbage you can make sure that nothing belong to the recycle bin and ask yourself in which way you could reuse these wastes. You will awake your creative spirit and reduce your environmental impact. Give to your wastes a happy ending, a second life, much more brighter than ending in one bird’s stomach.
And although older generations and mine will have to a make a major change in their behaviour, the hopeful finding is that when I can’t separate my garbage I feel awkward. As doing something really wrong. That is in my point of view the confirmation that humans a custom animals. And with a little effort we can change the beautiful world around us.
More info on great plastic projects in the Netherlands:
WASTED Laboratory: a neighborhood Laboratory for Plastic Waste Upcycling in Amsterdam Noord
PLASTIC: Promises of a Home-made Future; explores the relation between plastic and the 3D printing market
Precious Plastic: built machines able to build new objects thanks to recycled plastic
Without knowing we take advantage of others people ideas’ every day. Whether it is as simple as a fork or as elaborate as a major scientific breakthrough as the last discovery at CERN with the particle Z(4430). It ALL started with the conception of an idea. We can imagine that someone in ancient Egypt or the Qijia culture (2400-1900 BC in China), had the brilliant idea for a fork and courage to speak out. He thought that the idea would make life better if we would have a fork, and he spoke with his neighbor…and he or she found the concept of a fork a great idea and gave some suggestion of what materials to use or how to make it. And so the first fork was made. Maybe not the best….but it was the start of an evolution, to make something better.
Many philosophers have given their input of ideas and how to understand the world around us, and this is still needed to interpret the actualities of the present daily life. Idea has the power to have impact for the future in the positive sense. Ideas although it is something untouchable can be very powerful.
This power is only created if the idea is shared, and transmitted and communicated in some way. If it is not shared the idea keeps imprisoned in its concept chamber. Ideas need to be shaped and nourished, as anything that grows in this world. Indeed, evolution is not about protecting ideas, it is about connecting them together. Like bees pollinating flowers, people spread ideas to grow something new.
What is incredible today is that we are more and more aware that the whole world forms one global entity in which we are more and more connected to each other. Technology and innovation bring us endless possibilities of sharing ideas; and that’s for our best.
One of the possibilities is by participating or following TED.com. A place where you can read that Ideas are like a virus but with inspiration instead of sneezing. Through the diffusion of short talks, this platform offers people coming from different places in the world and having different backgrounds the possibility to share their ideas to the whole world. And the unique purpose of this is to spread ideas to inspire people. We can never have enough inspiration; inspiration is the cradle of new ideas and creativity.
In short, ideas cause ideas.
And March is the International Ideas Month, so let’s just celebrate and appreciate all those ideas burgeoning all around the world. I challenge you to use this month to listen to people’s ideas, get inspired and finally, share your own ideas. Coming spring is a good time to explore your creativity. So grab your notebook everywhere you go because as we all experienced it, ideas often strike us like a flash and then just go away.