SciFi movies & popular media headlines often give us an illusion of the “technologically predetermined” direction our future is “inevitably” hurtling towards. Most of these narratives isolate science & technology from human context & exhibit discriminatory bias, limiting, rather than opening our understanding of what is really possible. Monika's talk will explore how the fear based Dystopian & exclusion based Utopia binary futurism perspectives are not the only ways to envisage our collective future & why informed hope is vital in increasing our agency & active participation in future-making as well as support our resiliency & solidarity in the age of intensifying geopolitical destabilization due to disinformation warfare. This keynote will introduce Protopia Futures Design Framework which prioritizes previously marginalized cultural perspectives, life-centric approach & the value of disability & neurodivergence informed innovation.
Monika Bielskyte
Monika Bielskyte is a futurist who challenges the determinism of both dystopian and utopian narratives. Instead, she suggests a pathway toward future visions that are truly inclusive and actually livable. Her futurism is defined by informed hope yet firmly anchored in contextual, complex human and environmental realities on the ground, rather than one-size-fits-all techno-solutionism, prone to short-term hype cycles and rapid obsolescence. Monika has done speaking and advisory work for major technology companies, media industry, cities, governments, NGO’s. Monika was born in the Soviet Union, and grew up in newly liberated Lithuania, witnessing and participating in the simultaneous collapse of the physical walls and the opening up of the digital world. Her current home base is Johannesburg, South Africa. In between, she went on a decade+ nomadic journey through 100+ countries, living with and learning from the leaders and citizens across various backgrounds.
As a speculative designer, Monika prototypes culturally expansive, socially and environmentally engaged future world designs that take lessons from visually and narratively captivating Science Fiction entertainment and apply them to make real-world future conversations more accessible. Her work in Hollywood includes futurist consultancy for Disney / Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. With expertise in information technologies and immersive media (generative AI, spatial computation, virtual reality, user interface, and user experience), Monika looks beyond the superficial trends to examine both the promises and perils of innovation as the blurring boundaries between the digital and physical worlds become increasingly weaponized. Her keynotes bridge the understanding of the bleeding edge science and technology, social issues and geopolitics with a distinct creative approach to render future literacy more compelling for both industry and general audiences as a resilience strategy against the impacts of disinformation and alienation.
Monika is the founder of @ProtopiaFutures – a life centric design and collaborative foresight platform that centers previously marginalized perspectives. The project's mission is to inspire a new wave of future visions showcasing how a transcultural and interdisciplinary approach, alongside disability and neurodivergence inclusion, can foster regenerative economies for the decades to come and chart an actionable path towards a positively interdependent and compassionate future world. Monika’s past speaking and consulting clients include Anonymous Content, AXA, BBC, Disney / Marvel, DreamWorks, Frog / Capgemini, Google, Huawei, IDEO, Intel, L’Oreal, McKinsey, Mexico City, Microsoft, MJZ, MTN Group, Nike, Portugal’s Ministry of Economy, Reliance JIO, Rick Owens, Ridley Scott Associates, SKY, TATA ,Telefonica, The Mill / Technicolor, UAE / Museum Of The Future, Unesco, Universal, Warner Media, World Economic Forum, Xerox PARC, among others. Monika has lectured in academic and research institutions, including Aalto University, California College Of Arts, Central Saint Martins, CERN, Indian Institute Of Technology, Lund University, OCAD, Parsons, Royal College of Arts, Royal Society, Universidad de los Andes, University of Johannesburg Graduate School of Architecture, Sciarc, Vilnius University, among others.