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Un-cancel the Future: Collective dreaming through AI

Most images in this post were created with DALL·E 2, a text-to-image AI with the purpose of crafting scenarios that enrich our visual language of futures where the specter of exploitation doesn't haunt our planet anymore.

3d render of a high-tech holographic brutalist cityscape highrises in inca style, covered in fruit gardens with a purple sunset in the back

“I like to think

(it has to be!)

of a cybernetic ecology

where we are free of our labors

and joined back to nature,

returned to our mammal

brothers and sisters,

and all watched over

by machines of loving grace”

Poem by Richard Brautigan

Have you noticed that depictions of utopias in popular fiction are becoming ever so scarce? It requires less effort to imagine an end to the world than the end of capitalism, as Mark Fisher said.

The mainstream stories for our future depict either a society collapsed by climate catastrophe (Mad Max) or a high-tech low-life cyberpunk world where corporations have more rights than people (Blade Runner).

The pervasive idea that we're living at the end of history and that there is no alternative to our current systems is a just conveniently crafted narrative that seeks to elicit apathy and compliance. Some antidotes to this hauntology are radical hope and collective dreaming.

We notice this slow cancellation of optimistic futures in the current state of the stories mass media franchises choose to tell: endless sequels and cliched dystopian fictions that instill hopelessness and an inability of imagining better outcomes for living beings on this Earth.

As a graphic artist and plant futurist, I've been pondering how to challenge these prevailing narratives in the cultural setting and communicate this with radical hope and kindness.

From my vantage point, I believe that in order to accelerate this imminent shift in culture, we must create inclusive collective stories by reclaiming our heritage as disruptive technologies.

For example, I've noticed firsthand the meaningful health effects of decolonizing the Mexican diet by reintroducing plant-centric Precolumbian methods and ingredients. As you may know, Mexico is the largest consumer of processed food in Latin America and the fourth-largest in the world, and for the last couple of decades has struggled with high rates of disease, especially diabetes. You can see my urgency of crafting hopeful futures that include the needs and contributions of my community, which is already impacting the living conditions of millions of animals (human or otherwise).

The answers for our shared solarpunk future are already here, we just need to look into tradition with some imagination, ingenuity, and lateral thinking to disrupt the apathetic extractivist death drive of our current systems.

It's been a worthy challenge to intersect design, culture, public health, policy, and accessibility through the lens of a plant-centric future. A challenge that has made a profound impact on myself, my environment, and community of human and non-human animals.

With your involvement and thanks to the multi-faceted talents of the Plant Futures team, this summer we finished developing many tools and resources for advocacy that we hope further the values and goals of a plant-centric future. Please check out the Resources page for more information.

The future starts on our plate.

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