Intel futurist Brian David Johnson kicks off ASTC 2012 opening…

Intel futurist Brian David Johnson helped officially launch ASTC’s 2012 Annual Conference earlier today, as the keynote speaker at the Opening General Session held in the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Johnson, who made a point of explaining to the crowd that as a futurist he does not predict the future, is a self-proclaimed “geek” and a fan of science centers. So much so, in fact, that he disclosed he and his wife were married in the planetarium at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland.

Johnson explained that one of the main objectives of his job is to determine what it will feel like to be a human 10-20 years from now. He took umbrage with the vision of the future put forth in so many movies and books—the vision of a person in a stark, sterile room with the sleekest of electronic devices surrounding them. As he put it, “If we’re going to envision the future, we need to envision a future for people, one that is comfortable.”

“We are all fire hydrants of data,” Johnson said. “We spew data—financial data, social networking data—all over the place. Yet data only has meaning when it comes back and touches the lives of humans. Humans make data and all technology meaningful.”

In his presentation, Waking the Algorithm, Johnson explained that algorithms are imbued with humanity and are, essentially, a story.

He urged the audience not to be passive about the future. “Don’t sit back and let the future happen to you,” he explained. “The future will be awesome because we’re going to build it; why would we build a future that is negative?”

Johnson emphasized the power of science centers and museums in building the future. “You will build the future in the minds of people who come to your science centers,” he said. “You put the visions of science and technology in people’s minds and let them touch it.”

We can change the future, he explained, by changing the story people tell themselves about the future they will live in. We need to focus on making the lives of people better.

“You have an incredible opportunity to shape the future through the work you do,” Johnson concluded. A worthy message to kick off four days of learning, sharing, connecting, and being inspired.