Future Dot Now, LIFT France 10, Keynote Speech


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Future Dot Now, LIFT France 10, Keynote Speech

  1. 1. Hello Anab Jain | Superflux Hello and good morning! Thanks for having me here, thanks for waking up so early and coming down, specially when it so gorgeous outside...
  2. 2. http://www.vimeo.com/13230218 Let me start by showing a short video: Video here: http://www.vimeo.com/13230218
  3. 3. Most of us are aware of the stories of oil exemplified by such popular series as Dallas... But none of these stories have a deep water oil rig gushing hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico day on day for months.
  4. 4. We could put it down to the act of God, with the only solution being divine intervention, as Sarah Palin seems to suggest in this tweet. But I think we all might agree that its not a particularly helpful or useful way to address this situation.
  5. 5. “We love the tangible, the real, the visible, the known, the social, the scholarly- sounding verbiage, the pompous Gaussian economist, men in black suits, Harvard Business School, the Nobel Prize. Most of all we favor the narrated... Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/thomasglobal On the other hand Nassim Taleb, the well known author of the Black Swan might attribute this sort of occurrence to the idea of ‘Ludic Fallacy’, a term he has used to exemplify the financial crash of 2008.
  6. 6. Alas, we are not manufactured, in our current edition of the human race, to understand abstract matters — we need context. We respect what has happened, ignoring what could have happened... Nassim Taleb, Ludic Fallacy, The Black Swan Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/thomasglobal
  7. 7. While Taleb was able to see through the abstraction and even predicted the financial collapse of 2008. And Roosevelt’s face on the 100 dollar note seemed to look increasingly sad, reflecting the misery of the bankers and the wider public.
  8. 8. ‘Black Swan Protection Protocol’ On the other hand, Taleb was looking up. He reportedly made a multi-million dollar fortune through Universa, in its approximately $2 billion “Black Swan Protection Protocol”, a fund to whom Taleb is a principal adviser.
  9. 9. Photo Credit: Kris Krüg But I am not a trader, I am not in the business of predicting the most improbable events.
  10. 10. I am in the business of Broadening Perspectives Photo Credit: Kris Krüg I am a designer and I’m in the business of broadening perspectives. And that is why the idea of ludic fallacy interests me, because design can acknowledge this ludic fallacy. Design processes can create narratives that translate the invisible into the visible, the known, the tangible.
  11. 11. Which is one part of what we do through our design studio Superflux. We are a network company - we love to collaborate with talented people, work in multidisciplinary teams and craft beautiful experiences as designers do... Let me quickly show you our detailed strategy.
  12. 12. Place the drawing at the back of a piece of paper. There it is, small enough to fit into one sheet of my sketchbook. There’s the client facing consultancy working on the ‘Now’. But there’s the ‘lab’ on the right, through which we create speculative proposals of different possible futures. We do this by using design tools like storytelling, prototype building, and scenario creation.
  13. 13. And thats the part I’d like to talk about today. I’d like to explore this evolving role of the designer today, the influence it can have, and how that might be useful for us, for businesses and organisations moving into a seemingly difficult uncertain future.
  14. 14. Futures d t Now NOW FUTURE Using Design as a Tool for Speculation But why bother, what’s the point of thinking about the future, its the now, its the action that matters, right? Well, maybe... but how do we actually move along this line, how do we create those desirable habitats and worlds that we all want to live in? How this line or that fuzzy space will evolve - how our lives in the future will change, is best discussed when there are a number of prototypes to listen to, look at, to acknowledge what the positive or negative impacts might be, to even get angry with, or find exciting opportunities. Thats my talk title - the Future.dot now - And now I’d like to show a few examples which illustrate these methods.
  15. 15. “Hi, The Hurricane season is fast approaching and is still bearing disturbing post Hurricane IKE memory paths in my mind... Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/chucksimmins For that, let me start by reading out a letter from someone called Helen...
  16. 16. It had pained me during Hurricane IKE to see people kill each other in the lines for gas station, while some stupid teeny bopper demanded gas so she could plug in her hair straightener to the generator.” Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/tampics
  17. 17. “I have no money and am racing the clock to find work in this almost extinct economy, but I have some ideas about non energy sucking beauty products,
  18. 18. I believe Houston is definitely an area where your ideas can be tested. Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/meltedplastic
  19. 19. And so I am very interested in working to develop an Ark Collective in Houston. Can someone contact me about how I could do that?” Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/jonnya
  20. 20. Design Solutions for a Post-Crash Civilization She wrote this letter to Ark-Inc, a company that creates investment platforms and design solutions for a post-crash civilization.
  21. 21. Project by Jon Ardern, 2006 This is the website of Ark-Inc. showing the services and products it offers for living in a post crash civilisation, alongwith forums for people to meet and discuss, what investments might be good and so on. Surely this cant be real. Yes, you’re right, its not real, it was a design fiction project by designer Jon Ardern back in 2006. But over the course of the last few years, people like Helen, who barely survived one of the worst possible hurricane of our century seem to believe in the value of such services. This platform made one extreme scenario appear possible through the design tools it used. The fiction became a reality for many, and now as the project moves forward, it has become more about collaboration, service execution and ofcourse legal implications.
  22. 22. www.powerof8.org.uk Lot of ‘participatory projects’ stress the importance of multidisciplinary collaborations. I think the same is true even while prototyping possibilities for the near future. These are images from the Power of 8, a multidisciplinary collaboration where a diverse group of people came together to explore different possible ways in which emerging technologies might impact our natural ecosystems... And here, the designer becomes a facilitator, an astute generalist...
  23. 23. The Beamer Bee One key concern the group had was around dying honeybees and the unprecedented decline in natural pollinators. Now the biotechnologist in the group thought it might be possible to engineer genetically modified bees that appear ‘natural’. And some people in the group wanted to explore that idea further. However, the permaculturist thought that interfering with nature’s way would not be acceptable. Finally, we thought the best way would be to mock up a design prototype of this synthetic hacked bee and see what happens. And this is that bee. Its called the beamer bee.
  24. 24. BEAMER BEE EVOLUTION Here’s the diagram showing our hack. As you see plasmids of various different creatures were put together inside a bee embryo, including that of the bat’s - which can sense radiowaves. So unlike the current bees that are supposed to be disoriented by electromagnetic smog, our beamer bees live in harmony with them.
  25. 25. Video: Making of the Beamer Bees http://www.vimeo.com/7231401 Here’s the video we made showing how the biotechnologist/hacker might make the bees. Video here: http://www.vimeo.com/7231401
  26. 26. While that the video showing how our conceptual prototype was made, here are the actual 3d printed versions, made at the Bartlett School of Architecture. Or they could have been made in one of the fablabs, we have seen here.
  27. 27. Again, rather then leave it at the stage of a technology or a prototype, our interest was in seeing how people might adapt to these new creatures in their everyday lives. We do this by creating stories, and this image represents one such story: As local food growing gets increasingly popular, people attract these beamer bees by putting wifi routers emitting radiowaves to call them. By creating such stories, we are exploring that aspect of technology that makes us all tick - the actual day-to-day experience of using it and its implication.
  28. 28. But few months later I found myself inside a fake passport image, inside this Italian magazine! They had featured some women designers, and my title was ‘Inventor of Insects’! I also had some emails asking if we had patented the insects.
  29. 29. Robobees, Wyss Institute, Harvard So you might think, ah! you conned the press. But here I am not talking about another fanciful science fiction - look at these diagrams, these are real robotic bees! Maybe not biological, but certainly autonomous pollinating creatures, being created by the Wyss Institute Harvard, aided by $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The RoboBee scientists will create robotic bees that fly and pollinate crops autonomously, much like real bees. The design questions this robotic insect technology raises are similar to the ones we were discussing with the synthetic bees. How will they affect the ecosystems? How will we live with them?
  30. 30. While it may feel like these props and scenarios are tricking people into believing certain things - the significant point here is how these help people to see things in a new light, help them think about ideas outside of consensus reality. Also, the other important point is that what might seem unbelievable today is often tomorrow’s reality, and by creating such proposals, we could broaden the horizon of what is perceived possible. Lastly, it starts a sustained, trusting dialogue between very different disciplines who would not normally talk. Designers who may usually be considered as form givers or experience-creaters can also be the ones who can facilitate and even create change.
  31. 31. Alright then, lets have a bit of science fiction finally. Anyone guess what this is? Yes, thats right, its a 5th Dimensional Camera. This project was produced as a result of a collaboration with quantum physicists, with an objective to explore the implications of living in a world where quantum computing becomes ubiquitous.
  32. 32. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle A particle in all possible Superposition = states simultaneously Quantum computers that our physicists are trying to build is around this mathematical equation, called the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. It highlights the idea that atoms or molecules can be a state of superposition - simply put - even though we can not see it - they can be in many states at the same time.
  33. 33. The 5th Dimensional Perspective Inspired by Hugh Everett’s ‘Many World Interpretation’ But what we found most fascinating was Hugh Everett’s Many worlds interpretation, which states that just like the molecules and atoms being in many states at the same time, so are we, only we cant see or experience it. Could that mean, that I could be standing here right now, and be at some other place at the same time? Sounds very very counter intuitive.
  34. 34. Could we have Listening Devices that tune into parallel worlds? But what would you do if you knew this was possible? Well, I know what I’d want to do, I’d want to find out! So we began exploring how to reach out - could we have listening devices that tune into parallel worlds? (image showing a two-horn system of acoustic location at Bolling Field, USA, in 1921, came up in discussion with the scientists last year)
  35. 35. Could we have Devices to See into parallel worlds? Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/gsfc And what about actually seeing parallel worlds...?
  36. 36. there we are sketching a device that can see other other dimensions - beyond time - That sounds fascinating, the idea of breaking the time/space boundaries as we know them. We started sketching ideas of a device that might allow us to photograph parallel worlds. What might it look like, and how will it help people connect this weird scientific quantum theory to their everyday lives.
  37. 37. And here it is... our little contribution to science fictionalise your everyday lives: The 5th Dimensional Camera, a fictional device that takes images of parallel worlds as theorised by Hugh everett. Its a shiny machine-like object - with a timer. If you set a timer and point it at yourself or something you felt like, it would come back with a whole set of images.
  38. 38. Like this one. We created stories of three people who might use the camera to photograph their mundane lives. In this instance, its a young girl who leaves the camera on for 8 hours, comes back and writes what she did in that time. As the camera fires, it brings back images of what she might have done in other worlds. Most of them seem equally mundance... except for something like a fire, or someone else in her place, or her not being there at all. Each image is time stamped illustrating that they were taken parallel worlds at the same time.
  39. 39. In this case, public engagement was the key. Creating a curiosity, a dialogue between the science and wider public around technologies currently only in science labs, and which will be in inevitably part of our tomorrow became very important.
  40. 40. We got some great discussions with young students, including those who got lost from their groups. but the one comment on the right is particularly interesting- i like the idea of seeing into the future. Being able to have that visible design prototype helped him explore the possibilities this rather counterintuitive science might bring...
  41. 41. Robert Boyle (1627 – 1691) This idea of looking into the future was explored by British scientist Robert boyle - on the right is the wishlist he created back in the 1600s, almost four centuries ago. Some of the things on his list include:
  42. 42. The Art of Flying Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/dockwarrior The Art of Flying: Yes we have that, the boring journeys we make stuck in a chair in space.
  43. 43. The retaining of Youth, or atleast some marks of it Patient D maximum frown ‘The retaining of youth, or atleast some marks of it.’ One good example would be botox, it makes sure one stay young or atleast unable to frown about getting old.
  44. 44. The transmutation of species in minerals, animals and vegetables Then there’s the transmutation of species in minerals, animals and vegetable, here’s a genetically modified glow in the dark cat -the perfect pet you want to come home to, on a dark night.
  45. 45. Pleasing Dreams exemplified by the Egyptian Electuary and Fungus ...One area people have not stopped exploring!
  46. 46. The attaining of Gigantik Dimensions and finally - ‘the attaining of gigantik dimensions’ - maybe? well we tried...
  47. 47. “People assume progress even if they don't see it. They lean into tomorrow as if it will be better than today – but there is no shared vision of where this is headed, or where we’d like it to head. Kevin Kelly My point is that Boyle’s wishlist is not just an individual’s vision, but is infact archetypal of the desires of that era. Whether it was about wanting to live longer or fly. While today most of Boyle’s wishlist seems to have come true and some even feel very mundane. But as I was going through this wishlist it made me think of this statement by Kevin Kelly -
  48. 48. What would be on your Wishlist? So I’d like to end with a question - what would be on your wishlist?
  49. 49. Sabbatical on Mars TVs that hover next to you Biodiverse Planet again Friendly Alien parties Picnics on the Moon Stop desertification Could we use the power of the web and its participatory nature to create a heatmap of wishes? A heatmap that might help us discover what the underlying aspirations of people for the 21st century might be? Could the power of the web guide us in creating a more democratic and desirable future?
  50. 50. Thank You www.superflux.in | Twitter: @Superflux Special thanks to Nicolas Nova, LIFT organisers and Jon Ardern