Say what you will about Microsoft being a fuddy-duddy, it's research labs are still among the best around. The company continues to invest quite heavily in R&D and, in so doing, asks really interesting questions that lead to compelling scenarios of technology's (electronics, that is) role in shaping our lives.
Best yet, they create really slick videos of future scenarios. One of the more recent (2011) explores the future of productivity. Microsoft extends the notion of productivity to everything you do in daily life, and that allows you to manage the various roles and responsibilities you juggle throughout the day.
There's nothing better than videos such as these to nudge our brains and imagination toward the future (for this reason, I sometimes use excerpts in my presentations and workshops).
This next video (hat tip to fastcodesign) is a behind-the-scenes discussion with a select group of designers who are building this high-tech future. They are interaction designers (aka UX, or user-interface) who are very thoughtful about how human needs and technology come together to shape new behaviors.
New behaviors shape culture, and new technological capabilities deliver new possibilities. The result: societies morph, markets move, and people dream new dreams.
These are not the only forces pushing the future in new directions, of course, and we'd be foolish to get too techno-romancy and believe that the future will look like these videos. But we'd also be foolish not to pay attention to the thinking that is moving it all forward.