What will the world be like at the end of this century? What about in the year 3000? What will music sound like in the next millennium? We assembled a panel of artists from across the electronic spectrum to give us their thoughts on what the future might hold


Meet The Panel

Gazelle Twin

Elizabeth Bernholz has released three highly acclaimed studio albums as Gazelle Twin, all of them on her own Anti-Ghost Moon Ray label. The Quietus selected ’Pastoral’ as their Album Of The Year in 2018. Bernholz has also composed several film soundtracks and collaborated with the electronic drone choir NYX.
Jeff Mills

Detroit techno pioneer, one-time Underground Resistance man and creator of the legendary ‘The Bells’, Mills has recorded countless space-themed records over the years. His passion for the subject led to NASA asking him to host a series of radio shows exploring the intricacies of the cosmos.

John Foxx

After three years fronting Ultravox, Foxx pushed UK electronic music to new heights with ‘Metamatic’, his 1980 debut solo album. In more recent times, he’s worked with Benge as John Foxx And The Maths and he’s also known as a writer, photographer and graphic designer.

Arp

Arp is Alexis Georgopoulos, a New York electronic musician with a deep interest in non-Western folk music and the avant-garde. As well as recording albums for Smalltown Supersound and Mexican Summer, his work has been presented in a range of exhibition spaces, including the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

Miss Grit

Korean-American musician Margaret Sohn began working under the name Miss Grit in 2018, when they were studying music tech at New York University. Their debut album, ‘Follow The Cyborg’, has just been released on Mute and was described as“remarkable” in last month’s Electronic Sound review.

J Willgoose Esq

Public Service Broadcasting frontman, Willgoose has a fondness for bow ties, corduroy and unusual samples from places such as the British Film Institute and the National Archives. He once gave a TED Talk about how the best gigs are when everything goes wrong

Maria Uzor

Formerly one half of post-punk duo Sink Ya Teeth, Uzor’s solo work is a groovy mash-up of electro and avant-pop with nods to both 1990s rave culture and Afrofuturism. She’s also a serial collaborator, working with the likes of A Certain Ratio, Acid Klaus, !!! and Mera Bhai.

Chris Watson

A founding member of Cabaret Voltaire, Watson left the music industry in the early 1980s to work as a wildlife sound recordist, including a period with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. He’s released several solo albums featuring material recorded at remote locations around the world.

Alex McLean

McLean is co-founder of Algorave, the algorithmic dance music movement. He is also a research fellow at Then Try This, a non-profit R&D lab making thoughtful tools and interventions with collaborators ranging from Aphex Twin to the Natural History Museum in London.

Kangding Ray

French musician and producer David Letellier has been making experimental techno under the name Kangding Ray since 2006. He’s lived in Berlin since first coming to the German capital to study architecture many years ago, and his long list of remixes includes Martin Gore, Ben Frost and Battles.

Martyn Ware

Best-known for his key roles in The Human League, British Electric Foundation and Heaven 17, Ware is a long-time advocate of 3D sound technology through his fascinating work as the director of Illustrious, the company he started with Vince Clarke in 2000.


We’re almost a quarter of the way through the 21st century. Is this how you envisaged “the future” when you were younger?

Martyn Ware: “It’s turned out to be a lot more dystopian than I could ever have imagined. I thoroughly mistrust the motivations of most people who hold the reins of power worldwide, and one of my main concerns is the tsunami of big data. I think that is an enormous danger to mankind. It’s so easy for bad people to take that data and more effectively squeeze the orange of everyday, right-minded citizens. And every single site you visit online is scraping you for data.

“The hot discussion point right now is artificial intelligence, of course. I don’t want to be a Luddite, but it does worry me because it’s a tool, so what happens with it will depend on how it gets used. I’m afraid that people designing systems incorporating AI, particularly for the composition of music, are just interested in creating a bigger bottom line. A lot of it is seeking to replace human creativity, not enhance it.”

John Foxx: “When I was very young, I thought the future would be bright, clean and technicolour, like ‘Forbidden Planet’ or ‘The Jetsons’. But in the late 1960s and early 70s, we began to see a darker side leak through, reflecting events taking place in the world – Vietnam, Altamont, Manson and his tribe, and the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King. Since then, we’ve had a flood of other nasty things crowding us – conspiracy theories, serial killers, Chernobyl, political corruption, bad architecture, drones, the likely end of democracy – all topped off by the possibility of human-instigated planetary destruction by nuclear war, overpopulation and pollution.

“I can’t help but feel we’re at a very dangerous moment now. From George Orwell’s ‘1984’, through JG Ballard and Philip K Dick, to books like Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’, speculative fiction has given us conceptual rehearsals to prepare ourselves for when the unexpected and the unforeseen actually rush in. But instead of being ahead of the curve, our speculative fiction, as well as our moralities and philosophies, seem to be lagging behind a convulsive reality. For the first time, technology and its repercussions are moving faster than our imagination.”

Gazelle Twin: “I am a child of the 80s and 90s, so I grew up fully expecting hoverboards, time travel, silver jumpsuits, aliens, space holidays and being served by robots. It’s hard not to be disappointed that almost none of those things are a domestic reality, and I can’t live out my ‘Back To The Future’ fantasies in adult life. I’ve had to settle for Playmobil sets, which I sometimes let my kids play with too.”

Maria Uzor: “When you’re a kid, you have all these fantastical ideas of a technological future from watching TV programmes and letting your imagination run wild. Hoverboards is an obvious one. I kind of imagined it would be summer all the time and we’d be walking around in skin- tight clothing with blank expressions like robots. I didn’t imagine anyone running and I didn’t envisage much humour either! In my child’s mind, I guess I saw technological advancement as a gradual move away from being human.

“I’m both pleased and disappointed with how the future has turned out so far. I love that we’ve managed to hold on to our humanity, and I think the smartphone has been the most profound development for communication and connection. That said, like any tool, it has also shown its potential for manipulation through power and corruption, and ironically it seems to be pushing us further away from each other and from ourselves.”

Jeff Mills: “In many ways, yes. In my youth, I had imagined a lot of things we currently have – flying cars, videophones, communicating through wrist watches and human-like robots. I’d also imagined technologies that monitor and measure us for our wellbeing, as well as humans travelling into outer space searching for other signs of life and a ‘Plan B’ planet to emigrate to.

“And in some ways, no. By this time, I’d hoped that humans would have learned from the mistakes of the past with regard to race relations, that the fear of others some people live with would have decreased as we engage with one another more frequently. By now, I thought that as a species we would be smarter, not more ignorant.”

J Willgoose Esq: “I was heavily influenced by science fiction when I was growing up, so I would have expected a few more of the old cliched flying cars and so on. When looking into the future, it’s tempting to make big leaps of the imagination, without considering that most steps forward appear a bit more mundane at some level. The internet, and connectivity in general, has been the biggest change in my lifetime, but it hardly felt like it had this potential when we all first started dialling in on our 14k modems. And in general terms, the main thing that looms large is climate change and what we’re going to do to get where we need to with it. That’s definitely the issue that keeps me up at night.”

Chris Watson: “You don’t think seriously about the future when you’re young. Not truly seriously, because you think you’re immortal. I was interested in what NASA were doing, though, and I was excited by the idea of space exploration. I had my little tape recorder and I was making recordings of the NASA missions off the television, then using those in early musique concrète pieces. I liked the idea of the future revealing itself through what I could do with manipulation and cut-ups, because that tied into what I was doing anyway.

“I certainly didn’t imagine the kind of interconnection between people and places that we have. When I was a teenager in Sheffield, going to Bridlington was a day-long trip and was a big deal, let alone the idea of flying or going in a tunnel under the sea. It’s the same with the instant communication we have now, with texts and video calls. I was mostly interested in electronic music, which was the future and still is to a large extent. I could imagine elements of that. I was in an analogue domain, so I had my VCS 3 and Synthi synthesisers, which were beautiful instruments, but I understood that digital recording was starting to happen. Now everything’s on a screen or behind a menu, of course.”

AI, art directed by Mark Hall

Alex McLean: “As a computer obsessive making my own weird software, I was a bit of an outcast when I was young. I remember discovering the early internet at university, finding all these niche little online communities and getting excited about the possibilities for breaking down international boundaries. I guess the social media we’ve ended up with isn’t exactly a utopia of deep intercultural understanding, but it’s still amazing how easy it is to connect and collaborate with people around the world with no regard to borders.”

Miss Grit: “Not to be a downer, but so much of this world has been such a disappointment. I don’t think anyone of my generation was prepared for this. There’s just so much wrong with the way our society operates. Growing up and being encouraged to dream was kind of cruel because it’s not really been practical to do so. I think a positive to come out of all this has been how thoughtful and progressive new generations are becoming, but it’s because they have to be in order to deal with this huge mess of the world.”

Kangding Ray: “It’s difficult to judge objectively, because everyone fetishes the era when they were teenagers. For me, it was the 1990s, a decade of neoliberal excess, artistic flamboyance and post-Cold War disintegration. Back then, most people still believed that technology developments would end up making our lives better. Although for a grunge kid like me, it was cool to be depressed and embrace the darkness… maybe we knew what was coming.

“We have a few good reasons to admit that the current world isn’t exactly the future we hoped for. Especially climate change, which poses a clear limit to the myth of endless economic growth that our entire capitalist system is based on. This is by far the biggest challenge of our era.”

Arp: “Not remotely. My vision of the future when I was younger was rosy and myopic. I was immersed in the subjective rather than the collective – less global, more local, you might say [laughs]. I was interested in music and ethnography, in learning about the larger world, and my idealistic take on globalism at the time was mostly benevolent. What did I know about the global market? Surely a ‘global perspective’ would lead to a more diverse perspective, to a people’s history rather than the history as told by the victors, to more equality, right?

“Going back to my 20s, as optimistic as they were, the word ‘futurism’ excited me. The word itself felt electrified, like there was a current running through it. But as I learned about the Italian futurists, they struck me as nihilistic, not to mention blinded by ego and amphetamine. How irritating that they got to ‘own’ the word itself! As a proto-punk movement, there was no progress there, no evolution, no justice, no peace.

“Call me a bleeding-heart socialist but until everyone has food, shelter and clean drinking water, my absolutely last priority is something like AI. Where we choose to allocate money infuriates me. And even beyond that, I think AI is a terrible mistake. As a species, we simply can’t help needing to touch the stove. Still, the tables turned some time ago. Humans now serve machines rather than the other way around. This will likely be our undoing.”


The 1,000th issue of Electronic Sound will be published in 2098. What do you think the world will be like by that point?

Jeff Mills: “There should be less of the ‘100 per cent human’ on Earth than now, but most humans will be similar in their appearance. We could have more nocturnal societies, as the intense solar rays may make it impossible to be exposed to natural sunlight. Living on water might be a reality again, as it was in ancient times. The pets we keep could become more intelligent. Brainwave technologies may make it possible to communicate with them on the same level, making our pets even more vital to our lives.

“By then, we will rarely use our natural voices, so eventually all the languages will be sparsely used. But this will open up a whole new period of human evolution, when we can all communicate without the obstacle of separate languages. Ethnic identities will mostly disappear and might be replaced by something based on the person’s belief system. Overall, I think humans will never fully learn to cope with all the advances of technology, though. I think this detachment began about 100 years ago, in the 1920s and 1930s.”

Kangding Ray: “We’re entering the next phase for the human race and massive changes are about to come. Global warming will force us to adapt and, as we’re seeing with the war in Ukraine, energy will be one of the main issues of our time. We’ll inevitably see a return to nuclear power, as well as a huge development of renewable energy sources. I think Asia and Africa will become the leading cultural forces, while the American empire will continue to decline and Europe will slowly slide into a much-needed and comforting insignificance.

“At the same time, I can see no end to the digitisation of our lives. Artificial intelligence will be everywhere, marking the demise of intellectual property and authorship, and resulting in less original creation, but more curation. And advanced genetic science and medical technology will enable people to be able to stick around for much longer, although only the ones who can afford it.”

Chris Watson: “Well, 75 years is nothing in terms of our evolution. I suppose it might be significant from a technological point of view, but the thing I think about most of all is climate change. We’ve almost gone past the tipping point of it having nothing other than a catastrophic effect. If our seas keeps rising, if our land gets more compressed, if our air becomes more polluted and poisonous, which it is doing, then everything else pales into insignificance. I’m still positive about what can be done, and what future generations will do, but we need powerful creative solutions, not just firefighting.

“Energy is obviously a big issue and I’m hopeful about the potential of technology, particularly in terms of tidal power. I imagine we’ll see a lot more localised energy supplies, perhaps even localised nuclear power. No matter what you think of it, that has potential.”

Alex McLean: “With catastrophic climate change ongoing and a 1.5 degrees temperature rise already pretty much locked in, it’s time to look beyond the usual “tech will save us” narrative. So I think the most promising developments are actually looking to older, more sustainable, more reusable technologies. My current research centres around heritage algorithms at work in skills such as weaving and braiding, looking at how these practices can inform new creative interfaces like music technology. Algorithmic music is all about patterns and we have to learn from these older, more established, pattern-based crafts in order to push things forward.”

Arp: “My current feeling is we’re in a deeply transitional moment, culturally and in terms of our viability on this planet, and 80 years from now feels far away. Will clean drinking water be available? Will AI have run amok? Will humanity exist? Will the rise of fascism reach its apotheosis? Hard not to anticipate cataclysm when, at the end of the day, big corporations and the government lackeys in their grip are really the ones making the decisions. Is this the voice of resignation or lucidity? Humanity, I’m told, finds solutions and ways out of bad situations. But did we solve the Plague?

“If there’s anything to be gleaned from my own personal experience, it’s that as human beings we seem to need reminder after reminder to change our behaviour. Any positive legislation that does get passed, in the US at least, is too far-sighted. Too little, too late. Sorry, but recycling, or using a tote bag, or having an electric vehicle isn’t going to save the world.”

AI, art directed by Mark Hall

Miss Grit: “Hopefully Earth will still be chugging! Being optimistic, I’d like to think rich people will use their money and their technology selflessly, in such a way that helps to fix things which are truly broken in our systems, instead of just trying to live on Mars. Technology is such an exciting thing, but it’s been shown that we don’t know how to consume it responsibly, so creating responsibly seems like a whole other hurdle.”

Maria Uzor: “The biggest changes over the next 75 years will be to do with the climate and this will alter the way we live. Maybe the North Pole will become prime real estate as the ice caps melt and the south becomes a desert. Maybe cities will be built on water, perhaps using magnets adjustable to the Earth’s core to keep buildings above water level. Maybe we’ll eventually get our hoverboards and flying cars too.

“I’d like to think that we will have further developed our own internal technologies – things like kinetic abilities and communication through telepathy and instinct – and I believe this will bring about more empathy and compassion. I can see already a gradual shift towards embodiment and a homing instinct. So I think there’ll also be a backlash to a simpler way of life and this could mean there will be two schools – those with mobile phone implants and regenerative body parts, and those who shun that in favour of living closer to nature.”

Martyn Ware: “By 2100, I think global warming will have trashed huge swathes of the planet and weather systems will be completely arbitrary. I believe we’re in for a very tough time, except for probably the richest five per cent, who will have already ring-fenced plots of land on high ground with their own water sources.

“In terms of technological advances, we’re obviously moving towards more of a cybernetic future. I can envisage a time when you’ll be able to transplant the human soul, with or without the brain, into a new entity. Will it be sentient? Oh, I’m sure they’ll have solved that issue by then. The dysfunctional nature of software and hardware development and the imperatives that go into all that is a source of enormous worry to me. I know I’m sounding like the harbinger of doom here, but just look at the effect that smart devices and social media have had on the mental health of lots of young people.

“As soon as kids have a smartphone in their hands, it’s like opening Pandora’s box. Not just in terms of screen time, but the sheer nature of what they can access. Look at the example of pornography. If I’d had access to porn when I was 12 years old, I most certainly would have tried to get to it as much as I possibly could. And you have to acknowledge these issues, so you can at least attempt to address them. It’s no good burying your head in the sand.”

J Willgoose Esq: “I think the pace of change to get where we need to be with renewables and climate change in general is going to be extraordinary. It already has been over the past few years, but as the imperatives become stronger and governments are forced to act, we’re going to see enormous changes across swathes of society in a very, very short space of time. The worry is that by this point, it’ll already be too late to avert a great deal of damage and pain. I am a reluctant optimist in many ways, so I do think we’ll fix it. I’d hope that most societies will have forsaken fossil fuels by 2100, so our relationship with the planet will be much more holistic and less avaricious, but I do worry about the suffering that seems unavoidable along the way.”

Gazelle Twin: “By then, I would expect the climate crisis to be either under control or in the throes of total chaos. It’s frightening to think that my kids will be around 80 years old then and I do often wonder what sort of world it will be. I actually imagine them living in a fairly primitive way, especially if the planet’s resources are almost drained and climate change has forced all the huge city developments to stop. I don’t think it will be like Philip K Dick predicted in ‘Blade Runner’, with these vast cities full of flying transportation. I think we’ll need to have smaller, more local lives in order to give future generations a chance of survival. I think ‘WALL-E’ feels a bit closer to the truth. I certainly hope we’re not looking at a ‘Mad Max’ situation.”

John Foxx: “It’s always worrying when you think about how new technologies are often developed or accelerated through warfare. As well as drones and robots, we could get some nasty attack creatures by gene splicing. And the genetic cookbook recipes are limitless, combining any useful characteristic from any species into a functional creature. Think wasp, fungus, bird, spider, dog, bacteria, virus, nano, mega… and then remix. There could also be accidental spills into the gene pool that may have far-reaching consequences. Add in more surveillance, more control, with technological miniaturisation making relevant devices almost invisible, and privacy is going to be increasingly valued and devalued.

“For all of that, if we can contain that dark side, we could rethink our cities, turning them into places we’d enjoy living. Imagine cities more integrated with nature. No tarmac, steel or concrete. Buildings on frameworks provided by trees and roads converted into green walkways. Only pedestrians and cyclists allowed on the surface. All engined vehicles relegated to below ground. Solar cells on every exposed surface, aesthetically designed to appear unobtrusive. Floating islands powered by water wheels. London has over 130 underground rivers and they usually follow the same routes as the streets, so why not expose them under glass pavements, plant them with ferns and illuminate them in the evening?

“Of course, if we’re ever visited by an extraterrestrial civilisation… watch out! I doubt if it would be like ‘ET’. The arrival of a more advanced culture into a less advanced one has never been beneficial to the visited, so we might find ourselves in the position of the Aztecs and Incas when the Spanish arrived. Our future could well be curtailed at that point.”


Looking much further ahead, what do you think the world might be like in the year 3000?

Gazelle Twin: “All I can imagine is a planet devoid of life, except maybe some insects. Massive ones. If we haven’t sorted out the climate crisis and the destruction of capitalism by then, then we don’t really deserve to survive [insert shrug emoji here].”

J Willgoose Esq: “It’s very hard to speculate so far into the future. I think humans will probably still be here, but we’ll be almost unrecognisable as a species, due to the integration with biomechanics and the creation of what will be almost a new super-species.”

Martyn Ware: “I don’t think humans will be on Earth. I think we’ll have absolutely managed to destroy this beautiful planet. And probably ruined other planets too, all for profit and greed. Nature doesn’t care – it will proliferate and fill that niche that we once filled.”

Kangding Ray: “I know that this will probably sound harsh and dystopian to some, but I’ve accepted the extinction of the human race as an inevitable outcome. And it’s actually something that’s desirable, so we can give the planet back to other species – to animals that don’t use all the resources around them until they dry out, and to plants that don’t spread like viruses.

“But to be honest, I don’t see this end as being particularly sad. On a geological scale, we’re just a glitch. We evolved from apes and lived in small tribes of hunter-gatherers for thousands of years. Then we settled down, built pyramids, cathedrals, aeroplanes and computers. We loved, we created amazing art and music, we had some great ideas. And then, when we used the last drop of oil, we just disappeared.”

Jeff Mills: “Like other planets in this solar system, Earth may only be used for agriculture and it may not be occupied by people. Humans, or what remains of this organism, will be a nomadic species. Time travel will have been achieved and perfected long before then, so there won’t be a single place in the cosmos that humans – if this is what we still are – can’t and won’t explore.

“By 3000, we will be ruled by a single entity and, because surviving will be more difficult, we’ll be responsible for one particular task. We’ll exist among other highly intelligent life forms and the history of how and why we evolved will be complete. We will know the purpose of why we were created.”

Alex McLean: “The world will change so much in just the next 100 years that it’s difficult to imagine the year 3000. We’re really used to our current rules of a dominant Western civilisation, but I think things are going to have to change… and the possibilities are infinite, really.”

AI, art directed by Mark Hall

John Foxx: “We seem to have an evolutionary imperative to gather together. Ants swarm, birds flock, fish make shoals, and we make crowds, tribes, cities and nations. When we do join together, we become another entity, often with a mind of its own. I’d speculate that the swarm instinct operates strongly and deeply inside us, supplying much of the unconscious drive towards the internet, which was the first truly global network.

“Virtual reality technology and the metaverse seem to indicate that we wish to take this further and create a more immersive social world, to be able to access a vast, intercommunicating body, in the same way that starlings gather to form a murmuration. I’m not sure the electronic web will always be an adequate means of realising our swarm ambitions, though. And at that point, we might need to pause for a while to allow other, more physical or biological technologies to emerge. Perhaps the whole internet may eventually be decanted into some other, more directly biological form of connectivity.

“So in the distant future, I’d like to imagine us co-opting some of the much older worldwide webs, the vast and incredibly complex networks of our planet – magnetic and gravitational fields, oceanic, terrestrial and airborne migration routes, fungus, insect and bacterial interplay with plant and tree ecologies, air and sea currents, and so on. In other words, becoming part of a truly physical, connective entity and taking the long-overdue evolutionary step of becoming a species that is properly integrated into the world. Rather than feeling alienated from nature and separate from the planet, we may finally find a way to become at one with it all.”

Miss Grit: “It’s so hard to imagine. There’s just so much wrong with the world right now, it’s crazy to think this is all sustainable. Maybe the cyborgs really will take over! I think they would probably do better with the world than we have. They wouldn’t have egos to drive them into the ground.”

Arp: “It feels impossible to conceptualise. But if the future has its roots in where things are going now, class disparities will only deepen and widen. In many ways, we Earthlings were provided with everything – various uncontaminated natural resources, free for all. Our reaction? Industrialism. And now we spend our entire lives jacked into digital screens, as if we’ll find salvation there.”

Chris Watson: “Perhaps we’ll have become more tribal, maybe because of what’s happened politically. Right now, I’m concerned that we’re in the middle of a war in Europe, which I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. So perhaps one way of surviving is through the fragmentation of nations and the the development of smaller, more isolated groups. Communities from 1,000 years ago were fragmented, but visited by people from other places. The Vikings, for instance. With Brexit, we’ve been pushed towards that anyway.”

Maria Uzor: “I think Earth will be only one of many colonies that humans have in space, but I’m not sure how habitable it will be. Perhaps it will be mainly used for farming. Or storage, like a garage or a loft. I love the idea of us having developed our internal technologies to the point where we’re able to travel vast distances almost instantaneously with just the power of thought. By 3000, I think we’ll certainly have a greater understanding of ourselves as the incredible entities we are. I have faith in humankind. I believe that at our core is a desire for love, connection and community – and I think we’ll have figured all of that stuff out by then.”


Assuming human beings are still kicking around the universe in the year 3000, what will the music scene be like?

Alex McLean: “We were very likely dancing in the darkness to shifting, repetitive beats in the year 3000 BC… and I think we’ll be doing that again in the year 3000 AD! Musicians love to find weird ways to achieve what they want to do, but I think the fundamentals stay the same.”

Arp: “My sense is that a kind of collapse, or numerous collapses, may take things in a different direction. I don’t imagine the music market will be as it is now – streaming, YouTube, Bandcamp. As hard as it may be to believe, perhaps there won’t be access to electricity, screens and other stuff we currently take for granted. This would dramatically affect the music that gets made… probably for the better. I imagine we’ll be sifting through wreckage, occasionally finding stringed instruments and other things that could be used in a musical way.

“Socially, I wonder if we may see a return to more intimate settings, small gatherings, not entirely dissimilar to what we were doing for centuries prior to global trade. The difference may be what instruments we use. Instead of the acoustic instruments that have typified ethnic traditions, reclaimed electronic elements and diverse forms of rewired gear may become part of the palette. This might not represent a regression.”

Miss Grit: “I feel the music of the future will become more interactive with the listening environments. Thinking back to early classical music, and also looking at movies that depict the soundscapes of the future, there still seems to be so much room for exploration in acoustics and how different genres can interact with different places. As we’re making music with new technology, it’s especially interesting to think of what alternative acoustic settings we can create, as well as how these new sounds will work with existing spaces. I think amp and reverb simulators are really cool, but I would love to see how they can imagine new sonic boundaries instead of simply simulating existing equipment and conditions.”

Martyn Ware: “By then, I don’t think there’ll be any such thing as music. People certainly won’t be sharing music. I think everything will be generated internally by using neural connections wirelessly to everyone else, or some alternative form of communication, and we’ll just spontaneously generate anything that we desire. The entire process of making us all individuals who can be monetised will have reached its conclusion and nobody will be talking to anyone. It’ll just be some giant cloud of stuff that you once remember was great. We’re already seeing it now.”

J Willgoose Esq: “I’ll go out on a limb here and say that music won’t exist in its current form. Instead, maybe it will be possible to artificially stimulate the parts of the brain that music currently acts on, without all the bother of having to listen to anything. So you’ll be able to call up a mood or an influence of some kind and then sort of inject that into your consciousness.”

AI, art directed by Mark Hall

Kangding Ray: “In a best-case scenario, by 3000 we’ll be back to small tribes with no money, no governments and no god. We’ll worship nature, get high on psychedelics, have sex, and make art and music all day. No smartphones, just a vibe. There will be no ego or fame anymore, so our favourite music will be a collective effort from our community. It will sound like a grasshopper at dusk, but as heard by the ultrasonic ears of a bat.”

Jeff Mills: “Memories will be a large part of what humans think of as possessions. The industry around memories should become very powerful and important. In dimensional ways, we’ll be able to relive or revisit all the dynamics of the past from any perspective. So ‘listening’ to music should be greatly advanced by then – one doesn’t listen to Miles Davis; instead, we might be able to exist as he did.”

John Foxx: “The music of the future may not be purely sonic, or even sonic at all. It may be an orchestrated neural experience. I can imagine instruments being triggered through a direct neural connection. Then later on, after we have succeeded in this, we could take it further, into an entirely new sort of internalised activation system, where the operator uses their own neural auditory system as the source. That would probably sound like a sort of ‘wish power’ to most people now, but it’s the old adage that, from any point in history, the technologies of the future always seem like magic.

“With music operating through internal sensual, aesthetic and intellectual stimulation triggers, by accessing and orchestrating the recipient’s individual memories, ideas and visions into a sort of experiential cloud or personal neuro-climate, this can be maintained at a low-level background or completely foreground intensity. It may be conducted along an emotional spectrum, from utter tranquillity to an aesthetically, intellectually or spiritually revelatory level, perhaps equal to a physical orgasm or the ecstatic hallucinatory effect of any drug. And whatever the effect, it could be private, shared or communal.”

Maria Uzor: “Because of digital technology, we should still have access to the artists we have today, as well as all of the future artists of the next millennium. Maybe we’ll stream music via artist holograms, so they’re actually playing in the room. Maybe we’ll also have implants to enable private listening in our heads and have thought-activated access to all the music ever recorded. Spotify will still be using the subscription model, though, uploading playlists to our brain-chips and collecting even more data from our thoughts.”

Chris Watson: “I like to think that I’m learning continuously about music, and I always want to listen to things. I do like to experiment and I’ve made some great discoveries – Japanese noise music, for instance, which I never thought I’d like. If I was around in 3000, I’d still be excited by the potential of recording things outside. If we have any birds and animals left, there would probably be lots of different ones around, certainly in the seas and oceans, so that would be interesting.”


What excites you about the future? And what scares you?

J Willgoose Esq: “What excites me is humanity’s almost endless creativity and how, despite the onslaught of negativity and doom-mongering, life has been getting a lot better for most people – and will hopefully continue to get a lot better.

“What scares me most is the environment and what we’ll leave to the coming generations. I worry that the responsibility for degrading our environment will become an albatross around our necks in much the same way that slavery and racism taint previous eras. Being seen to be eating meat beyond a certain point, being seen to fly for pleasure beyond a certain point, having a certain number of children, or any children… all these things are going to be looked back on with a huge amount of condemnation and judgement. We can’t say we didn’t know better, either.”

Jeff Mills: “Nothing scares me about the future. I’m delighted for anything and everything that’s going to come. When I think about how fragile human life is, we have to be grateful for every moment we breathe. It is not for certain that humanity will last forever, nor should it be. Realistically, our time is limited. But, if we’re lucky, we might be able to experience some interesting events. This is why I’m delighted.”

Gazelle Twin: “I’ve loved sci-fi novels and films since I was kid, and I’m amazed by new technology when it feels inspiring – like seeing the world differently, visualising things in a virtual space that we couldn’t otherwise, and sparking creativity, thought and learning. Kids are great barometers of when something has a positive influence, and when it becomes harmful. And there’s so much of the harmful stuff out there now. Apps that casually dish out supposedly ideal body and face images – as entertainment – disturb me deeply. It’s impossible to control these things.

“I find I’m in a constant race to arm myself with knowledge, psychological frameworks, skills and ready-made responses to deal with this sort of thing when it inevitably rears its head with my boys. I’m already terrified they’re growing up with what feels like a feral technology, coursing wildly through social platforms and video games aimed at them.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not someone who thinks that shooter games raise murderers. It’s other things I find disconnecting; the thinly veiled ideological identity stuff, channels that lead to porn, deep fakes and misinformation. I constantly check and try to block things, but it feels like the tide is always against me.”

Miss Grit: “I feel so pessimistic because the people in charge of our future suck. They honestly do. There are just so many bad people in power right now, it feels impossible to create a happy future. But I’m very excited for the new generations, because I really love the thinkers that are coming from them. It does give me hope, although I can’t help but feel like our future is already fucked because of our current reality.”

Alex McLean: “Mainstream conventional computing feels on a path to nowhere, so it’s super-inspiring to see projects like Collapse OS, Uxn and Dynamicland taking fresh, ground-up approaches to what a computer can look like and at a human scale. I find this much more compelling than the current AI hype cycle, which is basically throwing huge energy resources at creating ‘stochastic parrots’.”

Chris Watson: “What really excites me is spatial sound. I work a lot in Ambisonics, which is getting better and better, and next is to have not just binaural, but proper spatial rendering, so I can hear everything around someone in their place, the traffic outside and whatever else is happening externally. So, I’m very excited about true spatial audio. It’ll change the way music is made and recorded. It’ll change how people work, just as laptops have with Ableton and so on.

“Echolocation, which is a biological sonar, is interesting too. With echolocation, I can look at something, scan it, then look at you, and what I’ve just seen appears in your imagination or in your mind. It sort of explains telepathy. There are animals on this planet now which are using something like that. We think we’re pretty smart, but we’re way down the pecking order really. Just imagine being able to describe music in another dimension, and as you’re describing it, you hear it, not in your mind’s eye, but in your mind’s ear. So perhaps that’s another way to disseminate music in the future.

“Because of my age, the future doesn’t terrify me. I don’t lose sleep over it. But war, man’s continuing inhumanity to man, I find that repellent and it happens everywhere. It’s the same as it was when the Vikings were here 1,000 years ago, so I can’t imagine it’ll change much. We’ve evolved into these people, in a sense, so I’m concerned about how my grandchildren will handle that, the horrors we read about every day. I try not to dwell on it, but we can’t avoid it.”

AI, art directed by Mark Hall

John Foxx: “There is an element of fear for the future, as well as curiosity and excitement. We seem to be gaining and losing control of ourselves and our environment in equal measure. I only hope we can manage to retain some sort of equilibrium. I’m fascinated by the unforeseen consequences of any new technology and I expect we’ll see a lot of that happening in the coming years.”

Kangding Ray: “Despite the challenges and hurdles, there’s a fascinating possibility that environmental issues will force us to find other systems and ways to live, and that might end up being better than the work/consumption hamster wheel we’re on at the moment. You can already feel the cracks in the system, with many young people opting out, decelerating or looking for alternatives. They’ve given up on the hope of being a winner in the capitalist casino because they’re better-informed than those who came before them. They know the game was rigged from the start.”

Maria Uzor: “I’m fearful of the consequences of our actions on the environment, but optimistic that humanity will find a way to survive and thrive beyond what lies ahead, and I’m hoping it won’t just be the rich who inherit the Earth when the shit hits the fan.

“I’m really excited about our capacity to tap into our metaphysical capabilities as a species, though. I truly believe there’s more to us than mere meat-machines. I feel like we’re running around functioning on about one per cent of our potential, believing we know it all when we actually know nothing. I think realising our potential would blow our tiny minds.”

Arp: “My fears are well accounted for in my other answers [laughs]. Ultimately, the future doesn’t exist, only the present. Each choice we make now is the choice that matters. As Maya Angelou once said: ‘Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between’.”

Martyn Ware: “I used to get excited by the idea of space travel and exploring other planets. Exploration is still a very strong imperative, but I think the sheer scale of the universe is beyond our comprehension. Of course there are other sentient, intelligent life forms out there, but the chances of them being anything like ours – or us encountering them – are so remote that they may as well not be there.

“What makes me optimistic? There are some good people. Enough to overthrow the bad people? I don’t believe there are, but there’s always hope.”


Any other thoughts about the future that you’d like to add?

Miss Grit: “I just really hope we start prioritising our problems and we can band together to create real solutions.”

Kangding Ray: “I hope we’ll soon collectively realise that social media is designed to make us miserable, and the current hellscape of the attention economy isn’t making anyone happier.”

J Willgoose Esq: “Just that I think we shouldn’t lose hope. It’s easy to get depressed and become apathetic given all the challenges we face and our apparent powerlessness as individuals. We have to do what we can to change things personally, while pressing for change at a higher level collectively, to try to make sure humanity takes the right steps for itself and for the planet.”

Gazelle Twin: “I want to quickly mention AI, which I’m watching emerge into the mainstream with fascination and caution. I’ve seen some truly beautiful music videos and animations made by AI, but I’m yet to really engage fully with it. It’s an uncanny thing. The ultimate uncanny. In many ways, it’s like nature. You know, the way a virus spreads and grows and can dominate indiscriminately.

“Again, I feel like there’s this feral quality to it that we don’t have any control over. I don’t really understand how it works, or what the true risks are, so maybe it’s not going to be like ‘Terminator’ at all. But I do know that I find it strange and unsettling. Perhaps it’s something that the world will one day adapt to, like the Victorians did with their cameras and recording devices.”

Martyn Ware: “On a positive note, we’ve seen some amazing health benefits already through nanotechnology and advances in the application of scientific principles and quantum physics. I think we’ll see more cures for cancer, and it would be a seismic advance if they can develop fully regenerative tissue. I’m not sure that the rush towards immortality is such a great idea, though, even if ageing could be solved. My life has been a lovely trip – I’ve enjoyed it generally and continue to enjoy it – but I can’t imagine anything worse than living forever, or even wishing it on my children or their children.

“As for climate change… well, we’re fucked. I believe the ecosystem will survive, unless there’s a nuclear war, but the different niches that nature occupies, the flora and fauna, will change.

“I suppose I just see the human race as a kind of virus. Obviously, there have been lots of science fiction books about AI becoming sentient, but what would it do to save the world? It would probably obliterate humans. I ought to write a dystopian novel, although I don’t think I could improve on reality at the moment.”

Maria Uzor: “I think every single one of our thoughts and actions as individuals shapes our collective future in one way or another. To paraphrase Gandhi – be the future you want to inhabit.”

John Foxx: “As a species, we are great survivors. Each of our ancestors must have been successful enough to pass on their genes, right down the evolutionary chain, even back to the oceans. They had to have survived all the predators, wars, diseases, earthquakes and storms, otherwise each of us would simply not be here. So every individual alive today represents a million-year-long success story. That thought gives me some comfort and optimism in the darker moments.”

Jeff Mills: “Yes, I wish everyone safe travels.”

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