Scenario Building – Linda Safarik

Our scenario was initially inspired by the movie, ‘Her’ (2013), where a man becomes romantically involved with his operating system, Samantha. The notions surrounding this movie were thought provoking and created discussions among our group in relation to the possibilities of dating scenarios in the future. In our scenario building exercise we used four quadrants to examine all potential outcomes of the use of technology and human relationships then juxtaposed societies where people had either abandoned technology or relied on technology. Our final scenario depicted a world where humans used artificially intelligent operating systems to further enhance their lives. Peter Schwartz, the world-renowned futurist and strategist, believes future scenario planning is an essential tool in thinking about the future (Schwartz 2010).

He explains the importance of scenario design, “Scenario planning is a powerful tool precisely because the future is unpredictable and shaped by many interacting variables. Scenarios enable us to think creatively and rigorously about the different ways these forces may interact, while forcing us to challenge our own assumptions. Scenarios embrace and weave together multiple perspectives and provide an ongoing framework for spotting and making sense of important changes. Most importantly, scenarios give us a new, shared language that deepens our conversations about the future and how we can help to shape it.” (Schwartz 2010, p. 6).

According to Peter (2010), the process of future scenario planning begins with distinguishing the forces of change in society and linking them together to create a hypothesis about how the future could unfold; they are not predictions but are rather based on current research, thereby cementing their plausibility. Our scenario development also followed this research-based process as we looked at what capabilities technology had today and discovered that artificial intelligence is already becoming a reality. Inspired by Her (2013) David Grundgeiger is currently designing artificial intelligence software in his project, Sofilia, where a user will be able to interact with an operating system and have real conversations, similar to Samantha (Pangburn 2014).

Studio PSK (2014) also bases their work around research and creates thought provoking designs about emerging technologies, encouraging the user to think about the world in a different way. Established by Patrick Stevenson-Keating, Studio PSK is a design studio based in London and uses methodologies in speculative design to prototype alternative presents, and near futures.

The Quantum Parallelograph is an exploratory project by Patrick that examines scientific and philosophical ideas surrounding the theory of quantum physics and multiple universes (Stevenson-Keating 2014). The speculative device is able to look up the life of a user in a parallel world and prints out information about this world to the user. The device is a useful tool to communicate modern theories in physics and serves to raise questions and provoke thought about the nature of our own realities. Studio PSK based this project on the works of Professor David Deutsch and Hugh Everett, who argue that there are multiple universes that exist which contain infinite copies of ourselves (Studio PSK 2014). Speculative objects help us envision concepts that are difficult to imagine, encouraging discussion, debate and conversation.

REFERENCE

Her 2013, motion picture, Annapurna Pictures, USA.

Schwartz, P. 2010, Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development, The Rockefeller Foundation, Global Business Network, company report, viewed on 17 October 2014, http://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/uploads/files/bba493f7-cc97-4da3-add6-3deb007cc719.pdf.

Pangburn, D. 2014, This AI Conversationalist Will Put Siri to Shame, Motherboard, Vice Media Inc., viewed on 17 October 2014, http://motherboard.vice.com/en_uk/read/this-ai-conversationalist-will-put-siri-to-shame.

Stevenson-Keating, P. 2014. The Quantum Parallelograph, Studio PSK, viewed on 17 October 2014, http://www.studiopsk.com/quantumparallelograph.html.

Stevenson-Keating, P. 2014. The Quantum Parallelograph, Studio PSK, video recording, Vimeo, viewed on 17 October 2014, http://vimeo.com/23177040.

Studio PSK, 2014, About, viewed on 17 October 2014, http://www.studiopsk.com/about.html.

The Future of Technology (Interview) – Linda Safarik

For my primary research I decided to interview a friend of mine who had a profound interest in futurism and what capabilities technology could have in the future. In my interview I touched on topics that I had covered in each of my blog posts so that I would be able to get more information in relation to the topics I had previously explored. It was interesting to note how my interviewee also thought that the line between what is human and what is man-man is becoming blurred. My interviewee believed technology would become smaller with nanotechnology and that technology will begin to enhance our lives and improve medicine drastically. It was interesting to learn about his perspective on the negatives of technology and the fact that we have lost the element of physical interaction because we are always connected to our digital devices. He stressed the importance of face to face human social interaction which built character, confidence and personal skills. We discussed concerns surrounding climate change in the future and if technology could help reverse this issue, but my interviewee believed that we are unable to reverse climate change and all we can do is work together on reducing the impact that we have on our environment. When I touched on the topic of artificial intelligence and being connected to an artificially intelligent operating system, my interviewee seemed to be concerned about what implications that would have. He felt that there needed to be more product testing before this technology would be released to the public. Overall, it was an interesting discussion that cemented many of the topics that I looked at in my other blog posts.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

How do you envision the future?

While it’s hard for anybody to predict the future, we only need to look at how far we’ve come the last half century to understand how much technology has changed our daily lives. My vision of the future continues this trend, whereby technology will continue to impact and influence our daily lives, but in a more profound way. I believe that technology will evolve to completely encompass our daily lives, blurring the lines between what is human and what is man-made.  As a society we’ll never have been closer, with information and knowledge only a command away.

How do you imagine technology will develop in the future?

I believe that technology (specifically computing power) will continue along the principles of Moore’s Law – that is to double in processing power every year – and become smaller. This will give us the freedom to integrate circuit boards onto the very tiny. The implications of this is that we’ll start to see computers in all the everyday objects that surround our daily lives. I believe they’ll all be connected and smarter, constantly enhancing our daily lives

We’ll also see the rise of nanotechnologies, which will change the medical field drastically. Already we’re seeing the use of technology within the field; however I believe in the future nanotechnology will allow doctors and physicians to understand the human body and their patients more effectively. The technology will be used to help diagnose and pinpoint medical problems, to target & repair, and to perform on-going analysis.

Do you believe technology will help us progress into a more streamlined society?

Definitely. I believe that we will see technological advances that move us towards a more seamless and streamlined interaction with each other and our surrounds. Technologies such as the world wide web have connected the modern world, and I believe that this trend will continue. Not only will technology continue to improve societal interaction, but it will become integrated completely into our daily lives. We’ll be connected via a web of smart networked computers that relay personal and environment information to us at our command.

What do you think the negative implications of technology will be in the future?

Rapid evolution in technology has led us as a society to believe that it has changed us for the better. Unfortunately there are negatives to be found. Communication with distant friends and family is a simple click away. However, whilst we’re more connected, we’re not really connecting. We’ve lost the human element to communication that was once there. By extension, there is a lack of physical interactivity as a society. We’re interacting through screens. This is at the detriment of face-to-face human social interaction which builds character, confidence, and skills for life. There are also significant health impacts because of the lack of physical interactivity.

What about concerns surrounding climate change, will technology be able to help reverse these issues?

No, I don’t believe so. Climate change is non-reversible in the way that the damage already done cannot be reversed in a short period of time. I believe in the future, our reliance on technology and its benefits will grow, therefore we’re only further contributing to our carbon footprint. Unless as a society we are able to improve on making our technologies sustainable to the environment, then we are only adding to the problem.

How do you feel about technology enhancing the human condition?

Subjectively of course, I believe in technology enhancing the human condition. Already we as a society have become largely reliant on technology to carry out our daily lives in a busy modern world. Whether or not collectively we realise this is another topic for discussion! For example as a species we’ve benefited from advances in medical technology, significantly reducing the morality rate in developed countries by eliminating diseases and medical conditions that were once fatal. Our reliance on technology will only become stronger in the future.

How would you feel about being connected to an artificially intelligent operating system that you can converse with?

I’d be concerned about what I was getting myself into. I feel that there would need to be significant product testing before anything like that was released to the public. I think it’s important for there to remain a gap between what is human and what is machine.

Technology: Improving The Human Condition – Linda Safarik

Technology has become increasingly more adaptive to the way we live and is significantly improving the human condition. Now more than ever, technology is helping us become more connected as a species by increasing our communication speed and altering the way we interact. Wearable technology has the capabilities to help us surpass the weaknesses and limitations in our human body. We are increasingly reliant on our digital devices to the point where every aspect of our lives has become interlaced with technology therefore it is becoming an extension of who we are; blurring the line between man and machine (The Creators Project 2014).

In 2010, the telecommunications entrepreneur, Tan Le, came to TED Global to talk about her new wearable computer interface in the form of a headset that can read a user’s brainwaves, making it possible to control virtual objects and even physical electronics by only using thoughts. Prior to this, communication with machines was always limited to conscious and direct forms and in order for a machine to do something for us, we were required to give a series of commands to the computer (Le 2010). The device that Tan Le (2010) presented, could interpret and map the signals produced by your brain to understand your instructions and could also respond to your facial expressions and emotional experiences. The significance of this is that there are many potential applications for such a new interface; virtual reality and gaming would be transformed into a more sensory experience and real life applications such as being able to control household appliances with thoughts, or being able to control an electric wheelchair without any physical controls. In this way technology has become more seamless and effortless for us to coexist with (Le 2010).

Technology is increasingly improving the human condition in ways it previously could not due to technological advancements in robotics, such as soft exosuits. Harvard Biodesign Lab (2014) is developing soft wearable robots that can augment abilities of healthy candidates, such as improving walking or running, in addition with assisting physically disabled individuals who suffer from muscle weaknesses or have neurological disorders, to restore mobility. In September 2014, Harvard Biodesign Lab granted by the Defense Advanced Research project DARPA $2.9 million to further develop their next generation, Soft Exosuit (Kusek, 2014). The product is unlike anything currently on the market, as the suit is flexible, extremely light and is capable to be worn underneath regular clothing. The suit works in unison with the wearer and enhances their quality of living (Asbeck et al. 2013).

We have seen how technology can improve the efficiency of living through robotic wearable devices, such as headsets that are controlled by thoughts and suits that improve mobility but there has also been a strong growth in transhumanist technologies such as artificial implants, the most controversial of these being artificial heart transplants which could revolutionise medicine and health. In September 2014, Carmat, led by the specialist Dr. Alain Carpentier, was able to successfully transplant a robotic heart into a patient in France without any complications (Istvan 2014). The idea of installing an artificial heart into the human body blurs the line between man and machine, essentially bringing us closer to becoming cyborgs. In the future, artificial hearts will not only pump blood but will have computer chips and Wi-Fi capabilities that are in built allowing us to control our hearts with our digital devices and monitor health daily (Istvan 2014). Does this leave us exposed to being hacked in the future? Viruses could be uploaded directly into your heart, people may be able to find ways to gain access to you then manipulate and control you; imagine the implications of what an authoritarian government could do with this power (Hauptman & Sharan 2013).

Dmitry Itskov is a Russian billionaire that believes in the future we will be able to directly transfer our consciousness into an android body and has even gone ahead and registered his own political party in Russia, Evolution 2045 (Eordogh 2013). He believes that by transferring the mind into an android body or an avatar, we will be able to surpass illnesses, diseases and even death, giving us the opportunity to become immortal (Eordogh 2013). This would become the next step in human evolution because we would finally overcome our limitations as human beings and be free from suffering. Even though this is still in the concept and development stage, Dmitry Itskov (2013) believes that this is a plausible due to the capabilities technology already has today and I believe he has a point, as artificial transplants, like the robotic heart, are already available on the market. The notion of transhumanism is already coming into effect and there are many ethical and moral concerns surrounding this. If we were to transfer our mind into an android avatar then are we still human?

REFERENCE

Asbeck, A., Dyer, R., Larusson A., Walsh, C. 2013, Biologically-Inspired Soft Exosuit, IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR), 978-1-4673-6024-1/13, University of Washington, viewed 3 October 2014, http://biodesign.seas.harvard.edu/files/biodesignlab/files/2013_-_asbeck_-_biologically-inspired_soft_exosuit.pdf.

Eordogh, F. 2013, Dmitry Itskov’s Immortal Robots Hit the Big Stage, in Name Only, Motherboard, Vice Media Inc., viewed on 3 October 2014, http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/dmitry-itskovs-immortal-robots-hit-the-big-stage-in-name-only?trk_source=recommended.

Eordogh, F. 2013, Russian Billionaire Dmitry Itskov Plans on Becoming Immortal by 2045, Motherboard, Vice Media Inc., viewed on 3 October 2014, http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/dmitry-itskovs-immortal-robots-hit-the-big-stage-in-name-only?trk_source=recommended.

Harvard Biodesign Lab, 2014. Soft Exosuits, Hansjorg Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, viewed on 3 October 2014, http://biodesign.seas.harvard.edu/soft-exosuits.

Hauptman, A., Sharan, Y. 2013, “Foresight of evolving security threats posed by emerging technologies”, foresight, Vol. 15 Iss: 5, pp.375 – 391.

Istvan, Z. 2014, The Era of Artificial Hearts Has Begun, Motherboard, Vice Media Inc., viewed on 3 October 2014, http://motherboard.vice.com/read/era-artificial-heart-permanent-transplants.

Itskov, D. 2013,  Dmitry Itskov on the Philosophy of Immortality, video recording, Motherboard, YouTube, viewed on 3 October 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyJjGxZs4l8.

Kusek, K. 2014, The $3 million suit: Wyss Institute wins DARPA grant to further develop its Soft Exosuit, Harvard

Gazette, viewed on 3 October 2014, http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/09/the-3-million-suit/.

Le, T. 2010, A headset that reads your brainwaves, video recording, TED, viewed 3 October 2014, http://www.ted.com/talks/tan_le_a_headset_that_reads_your_brainwaves?language=en.

The Creators Project, 2014. Make It Wearable | Episode 4: Becoming Superhuman, video recording, YouTube, viewed 3 October 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyx0SwNlpPw.

Inspired by pre-existing events (Scenario Building) – Sophia Chan

Titled ‘Energy Addicts’ this concept juxtaposes completely with our scenario building, however I wanted to focus on comparing the differences and from that drawing out similarities that are shared between ‘Energy Addicts’ and our scenario. Like OS: Life, this concept revolves around human interaction with a device that is connected to our body, while we have a system that is connected via earpieces,  ‘Energy Addicts’ provide jewellery pieces that are pierced into your bloodstream, in which work in reverse OS: Life as these jewellery pieces harvest energy from our body and emit it to our environment, while we use this system to enhance ourselves and gain new experiences in advanced technology. Naomi Kizhner utilises these objects to comment on pre-existing scenario ”there are groups today that willingly plant magnets under their flesh in the hope of accelerating their transformation to full-on cyborg” (Naomi Kizhner), and takes that scenario to an extreme level much like how my group and I approached our scenario development where we used the quadrant to determine a pre-existing scenario inspiring us to develop an enhanced version of ‘Siri’.

8

Scholar, Nick Brostom mentioned in ‘History of Transhumanist Thought’ (2005), a statement from statistician I. J. Good (1985):

”Let an ultra intelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all
the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of
machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultra intelligent machine could
design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an
‘intelligence explosion,’ and the intelligence of man would be left far behind.
Thus the first ultra intelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever
make”. 

This deemed to be particularly relevant to both our scenario building and Naomi Kizhers’ work as it overall predicts the future of technologies’ involvement in our lives and how it would eventually replace manual labour or the existence and purpose of mankind. This aforementioned statement provides a logical insight on how machines have become more and more like humans, and even extending the limitations that we humans have. And ultimately has become the foundational influence and inspiration for future scenarios that are imagined in the future, whether it be humans transitioning into cyborgs or trans-humans or the evolution of artificial intelligence that blurs the lines between man-made and God’s own creation. While both our scenario on an enhanced version of Siri and Naomi Kizhners’ work are two ends of the spectrum, they are still fuelled by the same belief that our relationship with technology, to an extent; has controlled and manipulated our lifestyle systems which is supported I.J Good’s statement, that advanced technology have become so intelligent that even we humans are oblivious to the fact that we have become more dependent on it than ever before.

References:

Bostrom, N, 2005, A History of Transhumanist Thought, Vol. 14, Journal of Evolution & Technology, Oxford University

Kizhner, N, 2014, Energy Addicts, Accessed: 23.10.14, <https://vimeo.com/100335206&gt;

Clark. L, 2014, Intricate Jewellery pieces harvest energy from wearers, Accessed: 23.10.14, <http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-08/07/energy-addicts&gt;

Hamilton, K, 2014, Jewellery that harvests energy from your veins, Accessed: 23.10.14, <http://www.iflscience.com/technology/jewelry-harvests-energy-wearers&gt;

An outside perspective of OS: Life (Interview) – Sophia Chan

After the development of our group prototype in response to Task 3, I was most interested on an outside perspective of our concept and whether or not this product could be evolved further to appeal to a global market. Prior to the interview stage, I briefly introduced them to the product, and concept, allowing them to have a contextual understanding of OS: Life.

Note: This interview was conducted over Skype.

The product is called OS: Life and it’s a system that is injected into your system using a painless syringe. The injected liquid is contained in small vails which contain different liquids depending on your desired skill sets and abilities you want. For example we have the the most basic form of liquid which is like a Siri. However you can inject yourself with different substances depending on your desired skill sets and personality. This system also gives you health benefits from immunity to diseases to re-coding your cells to heal a broken bone etc. OS: Life also connects you to an online database where you are able to develop a sensory experience of a place/person even if you are not physically there.

Interview Questions:

1. After hearing about this product, would you personally invest in it and use it?

2. Do you think this product would be possible in the future?

3. How do you think this will change the way our present life is, more importantly human interaction?

4. Are there any ethical issues or concerns that arise from this product?

5. What further suggestions can be made to improve this product?

Listen to interview here: http://yourlisten.com/Sophie1994/os-life

Reflection:

Initially, before the interview, I had already predicted some responses, however the interviewee made some interesting comparisons with the class division of the OS: Life where he compared the concept with someone holding a gun, and feeling more power and authority over the unarmed people. This allowed me to put my concept in a different perspective and raise an issue on equality and human rights. Another comment mentioned was in regards to the last question, where he questioned the purpose or motive of this product and who invented it and why. Was it to make more money, or do they have an intention of revolutionising the human race and our systems. As predicted, he thought that the concept was interesting in terms of whether people would be motivated to use it, however he still believes that physical human to human interaction should be done regardless as an essential part of human nature. During the interview, he also questioned whether or not the strength of the product could potentially overrule the police, say if someone was the commit a crime, would the criminal be stronger than the police and if so maybe the effects of OS: life shouldn’t be too overwhelming where a person is five times stronger and so on then another as the power would be difficult to contain. From this I gathered another crucial point to our concept and perhaps a need to re-evaluate the potentials of OS: Life and maybe set some restrictions on the product, so that the concept would not seem so far-fetched.

Big Data, and why it exists in social media and the Corporate World. – Sophia Chan

Big Data is often put in negative light. However after reading articles and discussing with different people who have coherent perspectives on the existence of Big Data, I have decided to focus on the positive effects that Big Data has in the corporate society,  and why we still allow it to co-exist with us.

In 2012, there was a article written on The Data Science Series webpage that explored the benefits of Big Data and what we, humans can accomplish with it. Though this article covers the benefits of Big Data in the corporate and business world, it engulfs the significance of it’s existence. Because Big Data essentially collects personal data of each individual and stores it in a global database, it is important realise that the information it has inherited allows services to be personalised for you. For example, there’s a section titled ‘Customer Dialogue’ at the beginning of the article which supports my point. In this example, a scenario of a customer walking into a bank and having the bank clerk do a quick background check of him/her to determine suitable services or products for them based on the customers’ pre-existing information from their social media.

data-list-analysis-is-big-data-relevant-to-your-small-or-medium-sized-business

Flowing from customisable services, Big Data also provides critical feedback for existing products to companies and help them gather a clearer understanding on how to increase their level of appeal to the global market. This also deals with the products adaptability to the lifestyle of millions, and uncover the different demographics that your product would be suited for. This can also help with product prototyping where Big Data allows you to perform risk analysis. As a company, it is important to note that economical and social factors can potentially ruin your companies reputation. Therefore, by using Big Data you can run predicting analytics on current events and guide you to providing a better solution for your product to counteract towards these scenarios.

In ”Turning Big Data into big Money”, Frank J. Ohlhorst mentions a case study on Twitter where this companies uses information from it’s users to provide a more efficient experience of the service, maximise it’s profits, and adapt to upcoming trends. And he further states ”the trick is to organise and analysis the data quickly enough, a process that can now be accomplished using open sourced technologies and lumped under the heading of Big Data”. Which I personally agree, that with this system and resource; businesses have definitely benefit and evolved from.  

In terms of it’s relation with social media, I also felt that the benefits and strength of Big Data was portrayed in the film ‘The Social Network’ (2010) directed by David Fincher.

The film revolves around Mark Zuckerberg (creator of Facebook) and his initial developing process that led to a multi-billion dollar company. While the film is a cinematic representation of his ladder to success, I want to particularly focus on the beginning of the film where he develops a site called ”Facemash”. This site contains photos of girls from universities across the state in which two girls are compared and then ranked by other students. This site was established from the initial hacking that Mark Zuckerberg did to collect these images from the universities’ databases and transferred it onto the site, and what made this website so successful within the night of it’s creation was because they were images of people that users knew. This is a pure example of Big Data and how it’s collection of information can change the success rate and appeal of the service. While there are privacy concerns and ethic rights in terms of Big Data, I personally do agree that this usage can sometimes be used in the wrong manner, however; the purpose of this post was to remind people why Big Data still exists in our society despite all it’s negative impacts and issues that can arise from it. It’s because it’s efficient, accessible, provides a large archive of information and knowledge for us and most importantly in our society helps the corporate world grow.

References

1. 2012, ’10 Practical Big Data Benefits’, Data Science Series, Accessed: 23/10/14, <http://datascienceseries.com/stories/ten-practical-big-data-benefits&gt;

2. Ohlhorst, F..J, 2012, ‘Big Data Analytics: Turning Big Data into Big Money’, John Wiley & Sons, Business and Economics

3. Fincher, D, ‘The Social Network’, 2010

Past the Present (Scenario Building) – Isabella Smythe

‘Obviously the things I create don’t actually exist but perhaps they could. In fact,
perhaps I create them because they should.’ (Piccinini,-)

 It is via use of speculative scenario construction that designers are able to create objects and technologies adaptive to our world. This can be seen in the work of Australian artist Patricia Piccinini as she uses her designs to speculate upon future scenarios and their impact on humans and also in the scholar, van der Leeuw’s writing. It is these values which have influenced my own opinion and use of scenario development in my journey as a designer.

Patricia Piccinini demonstrates her use of scenario development in her 2002 sculpture, ‘Still life with stem cells’ made with silicone, fiberglass and human hair (AGWA, 2010). A young girl is surrounded by and playing with skin-like lumps which appear to be alive, controversially speculating possible futures. This is demonstrated in her statement, ‘There are several questions that I always ask myself, and that are at the base of my work: What is the definition of “natural” and the definition of “artificial,” and how do those definitions change over time?’ (Piccinini,-).

Still Life With Stem Cells (2002), Patricia Piccinini

She confronts us to question the barriers between human nature and technology by producing sculptural artefacts in scenarios which appear humanlike with skin and hair, provoking empathy, but upon further inspection the audience realises they are not like us. . According to Rachel Kent, ‘From the mapping of the human genome to the growth of human tissue and organs from stem cells, Piccinini’s art charts a terrain in which scientific progress and ethical questions are intertwined.’ (Kent, 2014). Inspired by these developments in technology, she provides us with an insight of her own interpretation of what might be to come in the future and how we as humans, interact with these subjects of future science.

Scholar Sander E. van der Leeuw, shares a similar view on the importance of scenario development, as he believes ‘innovation can only become sustainable if supported by a new way of thinking informed by a generative  perspective and a deeper investigation of the impact of the present on the future’ (van der Leuw, 2012). We, as designers need to consider both present and future contexts in order to produce objects which meet all potential expectations for both eras.

 photo DIGITALLIFEAxis_zpsdd94e99b.jpg

To develop our scenario, we used four quadrants to examine all potential outcomes of technology use and human relationships, including both severe dystopic worlds as well as utopias. From this, we were able to create a scenario in which humans used technological operating systems which could do almost anything for them, decreasing the need for face to face contact. This scenario had both its negative and positive impacts on the world, much like any new artefact designed today and enabled us to speculate upon a potential future, and design objects accordingly, much like Patricia Piccinini.

References:
1. van der Leuw, S., 2012. Global Systems Dynamics and Policy: Lessons from the Distant Past. In: Complexity Economics, 1, 57.
2. -, 2010. Grateful Grapefruit. Available online:http://www.gratefulgrapefruit.com/2011/01/26/patricia-piccinini/
3. -, 2011. Patricia Piccinini. Tolnaro Galleries. Available online: http://tolarnogalleries.com/artists/patricia-piccinini/
4. -, 2010. A Critical Analysis of Patricia Piccinini’s Art: A Re-presentation of Biotechnology. Art XY. Available online: http://www.art-xy.com/2011/05/re-presenting-biotechnology.html
5. -, 2010. Patricia Piccinini: Relativity. Art Gallery of Western Australia. Available online: http://www.artgallery.wa.gov.au/exhibitions/patricia-piccinini-relativity.asp
6. Patricia Piccinini,2006. In Another Life exhibition catalogue, Wellington City Gallery, Wellington, NZ. Available online: http://www.patriciapiccinini.net/essay.php

Generations and Technology Survey – Isabella Smythe

Technologies are evolving at such a rate it almost makes it impossible to notice the lasting effects this has on different generations. By surveying 20 anonymous people from two different age groups (Under and over 30’s), using the same questions regarding technologies, common different opinions emerge from different generations.

It is by using this information that an insight into the influence these new technologies over time, such as smart phones, can be established. This blog post will reveal some of the more common answers from each age group for each question and explore these results. (All surveys were signed with consent for results to be published).

Question 1:
 photo 1cue_zps7e4900f8.jpg

From the results of Question 1, it becomes clear that majority of the younger group (Group 1) are on their phone for more than an hour each day, some even more than 4 hours, while Group 2 are for less than 30 minutes.

Question 2: photo 2_zps401be07c.png

From Question 2, it shows that Group 1 tend to use their phones more at night, potentially cutting into sleep thus negatively impacting sleep patterns, while Group 2 use their phone in the morning, perhaps due to work reasons.

Question 3:
 photo 3_zps9a861fc1.png

With Question 3, Group 1 found that their social events were highly impacted by smartphone use, with 100% saying it was at least of some issue. Group 2 had many different opinions for this one, however were still less effected than Group 1.

Question 4:
 photo 4_zps8c8c7999.png

From Question 4, I can be seen that Group 1 have high levels of anxiety when without their phone, while Group 2, while still experiencing it, had significantly less.

Question 5:
 photo 5_zpsfebdc9ff.png

Question 5 revealed that majority of Group 1 feel comfortable, while majority of Group 2 feel discomfort with how quick technologies are evolving. This is important to note the different psychological feelings of generations towards the same topic.

Question 6:
 photo 6_zps68c0b764.png

Question 6 showed that all of Group 1 felt somewhat confident, while Group 2 revealed some hesitation, demonstrating furthermore the divide in opinions of evolving technologies.

As it can be seen from these results, it is mostly the younger generation that feel the biggest impact both socially and psychologically from these emerging technologies, while it is the older age group that feels anxious for the future. From this, we need to question the severity of the impacts of these technologies using opinions from a cross section of the population, rather than let them go unnoticed as our society changes. Furthermore, it is by using this information that we, as designers, can speculate on potential future scenarios based on the difference in behaviours and values between a generational age gap.

References:
1. -, 2013. Generational Age Gap. Available online: http://images.1233.tw/we-have-generation-gap/

Extend the Future- By Jacqueline Briggs

Critical Design is critical thought translated into materiality.[1]

Dunne and Raby are two designers who use design to evoke discussion and debate amongst designers and the general public about societal, cultural and ethical implications of existing and emerging technologies. [2]

robotallgirlcopyDunne and Raby,Technological Dreams Series: No.1, Robots, 2007.

huggablemushroomTechnological Dreams Series: No.1, Robots, 2007.

0meat_portrait_400aIS THIS YOUR FUTURE? 2004

These two designers instill critical and speculative design within their practice. When developing further research into our scenario design to ultimately create a designed product, Dunne and Raby’s views were potent in understanding how to design into the future.

Tonkinwise’s anaylsis of Dunne and Raby’s ‘Speculative Everything’[3] gave some insight on how we should effectively ‘future.’ Dunne and Raby’s main point that resonated with my train of thought was their notion of speculative and critical design. Both design notions are ultimately to make us think, raise awareness, exposing assumptions, provoking action and sparking debate. This is fundamentally what our future design would want to aim to achieve. Wouldn’t everyones?

To know more about critical design and Dunne and Raby this is a great interview.

The Cone of Futures[4] is also discussed which provides a template to understand that different futuring can be probable, plausible and deliberately implausible. Dunne and Raby state that they prefer to work in a space between possible and plausible rather than plausible and probable as it opens up more imaginative and thought provoking futures. This changed the pattern of our thoughts when designing. Our future, centered around an OS system which enhances our communication seems like a highly plausible future as deemed by many examples already shown in the western world,[5] such as Siri on Apple Iphones.

Futures_cone-GIFCone of Futures

It only seems logical to push the scenario, which was originally based thirty years from now to a hundred. By extending the length of time[6] it irrationally gives a designer more freedom of expression and imagination. Our design went from an artificial intelligence system to a full embodied, personalized system that can be injected into each of our bodies. Once we had come up with this design idea it felt as though the ideas relating to this system could be endless and this happened just by pushing the envelope a little more to a design which takes a little more time for our brains to comprehend.

Dunne and Raby have an important final point within their book Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction and Social Dreaming. They insist that there is no alternative to consumerism, which is a statement widely up for debate.[7] While designing an object in relation to our future scenario I realized that Dunne and Raby were entirely right. Designing an object for the future essentially comes back to consumerism, who will buy the design and on what scale. Subconsciously the notion of consumerism affects most designer’s processes. In our final future scenario the company who develops this design will become a leader of the world, becoming so powerful from this notion of consumerism that it has over ruled the conventional beliefs of a government.

[1] Tonkinwise, C. 2014, How we Future, Cambridge: MIT Press.

[2] Dunne and Raby, A, F. Critical Design FAQ, < http://www.dunneandraby.co.uk/content/bydandr/13/0&gt;.

[3] Dunne, A, Raby, F. 2013, Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction and Social Dreaming. The MIT Press.

[4] Voros, J. 2001. A Primer of Future Studies, Foresight and the Use of Scenarios. Foresight Bulletin, Swinburne University of Technology.

[5] 2014. List of Operating Systems, Wikipedia, < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_operating_systems&gt;.

[6] Carlson, D. 2006. Design (In) Future, David Report. < http://davidreport.com/the-report/issue-3-2006-design-in-the-futu/&gt;.

[7] Heinberg, R. 2013, The Brief, Tragic Regin of Consumerism- and the birth of a happy alternative, Post Carbon Institute, < http://www.postcarbon.org/the-brief-tragic-reign-of-consumerism-and-the-birth-of-a-happy-alternative/&gt;.

The Power and Politics of Technologies – Isabella Smythe

‘machines, once made, make men’ (Emmerson,-)

Technologies and objects which may unwillingly have the power to change our behaviour and translate values onto societies have not just noticeable effects in the way we navigate around our everyday lives but can influence our subconscious associations without us even knowing.

These technologies may not be just objects, but include systems and networks. It is these technologies which most people accept their context to have shaped these technologies, but many fail to question how these technologies have actually shaped the context from which they arose, just as Willams agues, ‘social setting shapes technologies as much as vice versa’ (Williams, 1996).

A cultural example of the circular influence of objects and society is the extremely low Robert Moses overpasses in Long Island. According to Robert A. Caro, these 1920-1970 overpasses were deliberately built this low so buses, which ‘poor people and blacks’ (Winner, 1986) caught, could not access the public parks also designed by Moses. Whereas, the ‘Automobile-owning whites of “upper” and “comfortable middle” classes’ (Moses, -), were able to easily drive under the overpasses. This demonstrates a remarkable social bias, which went and still does go almost unnoticed, as being a part of the surrounding architecture – us as humans barely give it second thought while it subconsciously changes our everyday behaviours. Winner summaries this perfectly, as he states about Moses ‘Many of his monumental structures of concrete and steel embody a systematic social inequality, a way of engineering relationships among people that, after a time, became just another part of the landscape.’ (Winner, 1986).

Moses Overpass

An example of one of the many overpasses designed by Moses

Technology now has the power to alter social behaviours on an even more personal level with the introduction of objects such as smart phones, allowing us to stay constantly updated with social networks. Although these innovations are shaped by emerging technologies within our modern context, they in turn shape our subconscious behaviour and social interactions as we further distance ourselves from the real world.

Women on phones

This Ted Talk by Sherry Turkle (2012) ‘Connected, but alone’, available from http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together?language=en#t-321771
explores further how smartphone devices are negatively altering our social behaviour without us even noticing, ‘these devices… don’t change what we do, they change who we are’ (Turkle, 2012).

According to L. Winner (1986) ‘The theory of technological politics draws attention to the ways human ends are powerfully transformed as they are adapted to technical means’. Technological determinism is evident in scenarios learnt from the past and in today’s society. By using these examples, we can only speculate about how it will shape us as humans in the future a technologies continue to evolve and change.

1. Jean -Pierre Dupuy, The Mechanization of the Mind , Princeton University Press, 2000.
2. Turkle, S. 2012. Connected but alone. Ted Talk. Available online: http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together?language=en#t-321771
3. Williams, R. 1996. The social shaping of technology. Research Policy , 25, p. 875.
4. Winner, L. 1986. The whale and the reactor: a search for limits in an age of high technology. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 19-39.
5. -, Robert Moses Causeway. NYC Roads. Available online: http://www.nycroads.com/roads/robert-moses/
6. -, Your phone and I are fighting a duel. Darkgoddess. Available online: http://darkgoddess.org/wonderland/2014/05/18/your-phone-i-are-fighting-a-duel/