Reading Response 6 / Heather Weyda

In chapter 9 of Speculative Everything they write about how speculative design is not the same as design thinking and social design. Design thinking is all about solving problems for commercial reasoning, while social design is focused on fixing human problems without the incentive of financial gain. Speculative design, however, is intended to be a inspirational and address values and ethics. It is a way of imagining the world as it could be. This change from reality as we know it is argued in this article to be solely due to the actions of the individual. The individuals actions can act as the jumpstart to these proposed ideas. It’s also suggested that in order for these ideas to come to light people also need to change their behaviors for the greater good. One example they provided was quitting smoking because it effects others around you. Everyone has the opportunity to influence design by what they do or do not decided to participate in, such as what you choose to buy and companies you support. When we hold certain beliefs it can stifle the development of designs. Our designs can only go as far as our imagination and when personally held beliefs come into play it greatly influences what does or does not become a reality.  If companies see that certain products or ideas are popular amongst consumers than they are more likely to follow the trends and produce similar products.

It is also argued in the reading that there are a infinite amount of realities. Each person perceives and experiences things differently, making their own interpretation of reality. This is important because when thinking of what realities could exist we need to place ourselves in the mindset that there is more than one way to view the reality that we all share. People’s outlooks on their reality also leave a lasting effect on the way things are designed, for example whether they have an optimistic view of life can influence what ideas they are willing to embrace. While simply thinking about these different realities that could be is an important first step, it’s also important to make these realities a possibility by funding organizations and corporations that are shifting in the direction that you want your reality to go. This ties back into the idea of supporting businesses as an action to further your ideal reality.

In Just Design by Cameron Tonkinwise he goes into why it is important not to add words surrounding design because it makes design seem as the secondary thing and furthers the idea that design is simply styling things. Tonkinwise states that if you have design that doesn’t fit into the catergories of Future, Fiction, Speculate, Criticize, Provoke, Discourse, Interrogate, Probe, Play, then it is inadequate design. He argues that designs make the future. Society will eventually embrace the design ideas that are created and except them as a reality. What we create now through speculative thinking, could eventually shape people’s daily lives, such as the speculative idea of highways that forever changed the world.

Reading Response 5 / Heather Weyda

In “Four Futures” by Peter Frase, he touches on the subject of automation and the possible effects that it may have on the world as we know it. There is often a negative connotation around the idea of further implementing AI into labor positions due to the already volatile state of employment, specifically in the United States. It’s estimated that 47% of the jobs can be replaced through robots and automation. When people think of this possibility they usually imagine more menial jobs such as fast food, factory work, of toothpaste cap screwers like the dad in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But, this reading suggests that it will take over more skilled work as well such as doctors or lawyers. I found a website that I’ve posted here before, but is even more relevant to this reading, https://www.replacedbyrobot.info/.
For reference:
Graphic Designer: 3.7%Chance of Automation
Industrial Designer: 3.7% Chance of Automation
Fashion Designer: 2.1% Chance of Automation

So luckily we all seem to be in the clear!But why don’t we want to be replaced by robots?  Mostly, for the idea that we need that job to survive, make an income, and to have a sense of fulfillment. In the current capitalistic society we often base our value on our work and the wages we earn from said career path. But, if there is a universal basic income it might ease the fear of the automated replacement of jobs. Then I beg the question of if only some of the jobs are able to be replaced would people simply shift to a more creative fields or automation sciences and somewhat keep up the capitalistic ideals of earning the most money as possible? Or would people embrace the freedom without work and live life based off of their own interests? As Frase suggests, the main issues behind automation is the political system rather than the automation itself. The way things are now do not allow for a good alternative for people who are being replaced by these robots and therefore scares people when they think of the inevitable robot takeover. I also found it extremely interesting when he said that many farmers in California were turning to automation due to the lack of workers after the southern border surveillance increased. It would be interesting if it was actually due to a lack of labor or if it was a lack of cheap labor, simply because most do not think that automation is due to a lack of available workers, but because the automation is overall cheaper than the labor.

When I was reading about the job aspect of this reading I thought about this article where Elon Musk Warns Governors: Artificial Intelligence Poses ‘Existential Risk’ It’s interesting when someone who is one of the leaders warns against this specific area of technological advancement. “Musk told the governors that AI calls for precautionary, proactive government intervention: ‘I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’s too late,’ he said.” I wonder as to why he feels as though the AI needs to be regulated and it is not political policy that should change. I question how far the robotics is allowed to go and that might possibly what worries Musk as well. For example, Frase talks about the artificial womb in which we grow human embryos, but only up to 2 weeks. Even though the timeline of the grow is regulated I question the necessity and morality of this research.

Reading Response 4 / Heather Weyda

In Guidelines for Envisioning Real Utopias by Erik Olin Wright he talks about how we need to think about future utopias using three different criteria: desirability, viability, and achievability,. When it comes to desirability it is more about the basic principle of the utopia rather than set institutional design. Viability is whether or not it’s actually capable of working successfully or is feasible and focusing on the likely dynamics and unintended consequences. Lastly achievability focuses on what is needed in order to actual implement the new system.

The main concept that was brought about by Wright that interests me the most is the idea of a unconditional basic income (UBI). Universal income is when every gets a basic allowance of what you need to live off of. The idea in theory is really comforting to think about. I know a lot of people who wanted to pursue a career but they were deterred by the fact that they might not be able to make enough money to live off of doing so or that particular field was oversaturated and it would be more difficult for them to find a job. The idea of allowing people the opportunity to pursue the arts or something they love without having to worry about starving is a nice one to think about. This would also allow for students to be able to focus on their studies instead of working in order to afford the cost of living.

However, I do have my reservations. I question if this would simply bring up the rate of everything else. This basic income, in the current state of our economy, would act almost as a baseline for prices. Since the current state of the economy is completely flexible prices change in the same way the economy does. So in theory if everyone starts off with a certain amount of money then it set the precedence for how much everything costs, thus raising the cost of living over the universal basic income amount. Whenever I think about universal basic income my mind automatically goes back to the discussion of raising the minimum wage to $15, which had a similar argument against it. Also, if the universal income taxes the wealthy to give to the poor I question how they will decide the amount and where the cut-off point is. If the taxing is not done right then it could leave people in a worse financial situation than before.

But, there is evidence to show that universal income could actually help the economy grow. One study shows that if there is a basic allowance of $1,000 a month then the economy would grow by $2.5 trillion by 2025. This specific report states “The larger the universal basic income, the greater the benefit to the economy.” In this scenario the universal basic income would be paid for by raising the federal deficit. However, it did find that if universal income is paid for through taxing it does not change the state of the economy.

 

Source:

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/31/1000-per-month-cash-handout-would-grow-the-economy-by-2-point-5-trillion.html

 

New Tech Research / Heather Weyda

aero – water harvester

Created by the UMEÅ Institute of Design // Susanne Duswald and Janis Beinerts in collaboration with Husqvarna Group and Gardena

It is predicted that by 2030 there will be a shortage of water due to urbanization, population growth, and increase of demand for energy and food production. This will make things such as personal and community farming a luxury activity that is too expensive for the average citizen. In order to save urban farming it is necessary for people to be able to collect a cheap source of water in order for these gardeners to take care of their plants. This is where Aero comes in.

Aero is a water harvester that takes water molecules from the air using polymer coated cotton membranes. Aero can harvest up to 200 liters of water a day. This device is complete powered by solar energy and can have smart dosing feeders connected in order to automate the plant watering process and to reduce overwatering and wasting of the resource. While Aero is meant mostly for community use, there is also the Aero mini for smaller, more personal use.

While I do find this to be an interesting concept I can’t help but wonder about the effect that this may play on the environment and if it would only make the situation worse. I worry about the idea of quite literally squeezing the resource out of the air, especially if there is such a high demand to do so. It also begs the question if there is higher demand and increase of price for water then will produce prices also rise and become a luxury causing people to turn to personal farming? It would be interesting to see how much a device like this would cost as well and if this device itself would be a luxury product. If it were to be listed in a higher price range then I feel as though it would only be helping the people who could already afford the luxury of personal gardening. Also, could this concept be used for other applications such as drinking water? I feel as though this idea and technology has many potential uses and can prove to be beneficial to society, provided that proper research about its impact on the water supply and the environment has been conducted.

Videos

The Process of Making Aero – This goes into the research and design process

The Final Project

Source

http://www.sunneas.com/aero-urban-gardening/

Reading Response 3 // Heather Weyda

In the Dark Matter and Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Vocabulary by Dan Hill, he argues that strategic design is not about finding a solution, it is about gaining more insight into the situation for which you are designing. In order to create innovative, disruptive, lasting design, you need to design in a way that changes the infrastructure of the context in which you design. This context that is encompassed by things such as culture, structural relationships, legislative frameworks, business models, policies, etc. Hill refers to this context as dark matter. This is in reference to the theoretical physics term that is in explains the matter that can only be observed by its effects but not directly. This context of design can only really be observed by the effects that it has holistically. If you have the ability to observe this dark matter and create solutions that make it easier to see the macroscope of the situation then you have the ability to create design that is disrupts the system and effectively creating a lasting solution.

Hill refers to this wider systematic change as the meta and the design or other physical artifact as the matter. This matter can unlock the meta, meaning that design can bring awareness or more understanding of the situation and its context. In the same way meta can unlock the matter. For example, Renew Newcastle was successful because it changed the system in which people in Newcastle could occupy space in the city centre. Renew Newcastle convinced the landlords into new contracts and made it so that individuals could take out licenses instead of leases on the buildings. They saw a problem in the legal infrastructure and worked around it in order to regenerate and rehabilitate an entire area of Newcastle. This is why it is important to delve deep into the infrastructure of the problem or situation in order to fully understand it. Sometimes the problem is not easily seen from the outside and requires the investigation that is necessary with all good strategic design. Without the investigation into the leasing process in the city centre there would not have been a solution that was as appropriate for the actual situation in Newcastle.

This is why Hill suggests later in the reading that it is extremely important to work in multidisciplinary groups when working on strategic projects. In order to create solutions that will create a project that prevalent to the most people as possible it’s important to understand as many perspectives as possible. But, when working in an organization design roles can often unintentionally be taken on by people who are not designers. Decisions made by people throughout the organization often influence the solution or the product. These solutions or products design the situation in which we live. Every choice, whether intentional or not, has been designed by us as a society. That is why it is so important to delve into the dark matter of the situations. Without understanding the full context we design based on our own assumptions. We therefore design for a situation that may not actually be the macroscope of the system.

Reading Response Two // Heather Weyda

Capitalism, as suggested in Wolfgang Streeck’s How Will Capitalism End?, is at critical point to where it is almost inevitable that we will stray from the capitalistic economy that we’ve become accustomed to. Due to the array of US economic crisis people have lost faith in the economy, particularly after the housing crisis of 2008 where banks and loan companies took an unethical advantage of people’s trust in the predictable housing market. Unfortunately, people have just become used to this unpredictability and ramped economic crises and simply try to adapt to the ever changing economy. There are three main symptoms of a crisis. The first is a constant decline in economic growth. The second is a rise in overall debt in leading capitalist states. Lastly, is economic inequality of income and wealth. Inequality is one of the most detrimental to the economy because it impedes the improvement of productivity and also forces cuts to everyday public services. Capitalism is supposed to have a sense of spreading the wealth in areas that need it in order to continue to build a stronger economy. When the capital is not shared it creates economic inequality and stunts the growth and weakens the economy.This will cause stagnant wages and weakens demand.

Although the economic crisis of 2008 was detrimental and devastated many homes in America and economies around the world, nit much has been done to prevent another similar crisis. The Obama administration enacted the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, but many argue that is would not prevent another problematic economic decline. Much of the act was not even supposed to go into effect until 2017, but it was recently repealed by the Trump administration. So what is keeping the housing crisis from happening again? Absolutely nothing.

When there was an attempt to taper the injection of flat money into the economy due to its dangerous and problematic effect but there was a huge response in a plunging of stocks and caused it to be postponed. This is a natural reaction in a capitalistic economy, but prevents from major changes and reforms from being put into place and prolongs the weakening of the economy. Capitalism is so dependent on Wall Street that it gives a lot of power to the top investors on what changes in politics do and do not happen. This gives people and overwhelming sense of distrust of the government and furthers the idea of corruption in politics. When democracy and capitalism are combined it allows for money to have a huge influence in policy changes and elections.

A combination of the distrust and instability of the current state of our capitalistic economy I agree that it will more than likely not continue forever. However, letting the economy fail on its own and playing it out when we get to that point, as suggested in this article, seems somewhat irresponsible. The fallout from a failure of capitalism would be unfathomable and destructive to virtually every economically developed country around the world. Although it’s almost impossible to consciously develop a plan for the inevitable fallout I think it’s necessary to have some sort of safety net put into place.

More on Dodd-Frank Act

 

Reading Response One // Heather Weyda

In the first chapters of Speculative Everything the idea of designing for non-capitalistic needs is presented as a way to provide critique and commentary on our everyday lives. Creating design that isn’t necessarily trying to point out flaws in the way things are, but simply trying to make you think about why things are that way. It’s not designing in order to create a solution, but designing in order to generate and inspire more ideas. This “critical design” is meant to point out and present possible futures as a way to reflect on the directions that society could quite possibly be headed, whether it be good or bad. While arguing that radical design is a vital and powerful tool Dunne and Raby state that there are four reasons as to why design that is imaginative, social, and political have become more rare and somewhat unlikely. The first being that design has been hyper-commercialized and seen mainly as a way to sell products. The second being that recently we have seen many examples of non-capitalistic governments result in national tragedies. It’s hard to convince, or even simply show, people that there are other decent ways to live when they’ve lived in a time where they’ve seen the alternatives fail. Thirdly, society has become more about the individual in the sense that people are more likely to do things because they want to do them and encourages people to look out for themselves rather than society as a whole. Lastly is that people do not dream anymore. It’s argued in this book that we have downgraded our dreams into hopes. People do not strive for greatness they just hope that their life is a good one and it’s kept at that. Not only are these reasons as to why radical design has become more diminished, but I also believe these are reasons as to why we need more speculative design.

While the article Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem? isn’t shy about its bias, it does bring up an interesting idea of what would life be after capitalism. If so many people are unhappy with the current state of our capitalistic society when why isn’t anything being done about it? Does it go back to Dunne and Raby’s idea that the wounds are still too fresh from previous socialist attempts? It’s an interesting concept that in today’s time is almost unfathomable. This article suggests that ideally society will make a shift from putting value on individuals based on the amount of capital they have and put more emphasis on their meaning of life and well-being. It’s also suggested that capitalism is a main source of inequality in that most people believe that it is a largely unfair system. Another point made in this article is that capitalism encourages and rapidly increases the depletion of our resources and the demise of the environment. This argument is continued by saying that we, as a society, put more value on money than we do the planet’s well-being.

I found an interesting website that estimates the percent chance of your job being replaced by a robot. This concept itself is a speculative design. It asks the question of what would happen if AI becomes so dynamic that it will replace our need to work? It presents more questions than answers and allows for the user to ask “what if?”

https://www.replacedbyrobot.info/