Speculative Vision / Margot Harknett

Plastic Packaging is the main example of single use plastic, representing a quarter of the total volume of plastics and almost a third of all plastic packaging leaks into the ocean.

What if we had an Artificial Intelligence system managing the recycle and reuse of plastic and a new generation of compostable plastics that ultimately drove the plastic companies out of business leading to the collapse of capitalism since the plastics industry is the third largest manufacturing industry in the U.S?

In this new America the recycling AI manages and keeps a profile on your consumer and waste habits, instructing awareness through fines if certain recycling procedures aren’t met. The AI controls so much of the recycling process that humans start avoiding plastics and because of recycling there is no supply and demand so the plastic business collapses. Humans start to bring new values and meaning back into objects since there is no longer a surplus of one-use items.

Since the plastic industry crashes the food industry is forced into more farm to table and organic production since plastic isn’t being used to package food. More algae farms are put in place as we start to use biodegradable algae bioplastics.

Reading Response 4 / Margot Harknett

In Guidelines for Envisioning Real Utopias I think it touches on a point that myself and others struggle with when it comes to speculative or futuristic thinking and that is it’s easy to be realistic about what already exists and it’s easy to imagine a perfect world without being realistic but it’s very difficult to be realistic about a perfect future. I think it’s very relevant to analyze through systematic theoretical models of institutions and empirical studies of proposals that have been tried. Most proposals get through the phases of desirability and viability but get shot down in the achievability because people instantly think of how practices that are already implemented today. When the author talks about UBI I understand where he his coming from and yes something like eliminating poverty would be ideal but this is a situation when it is desirable but maybe not so viable or achievable depending on how you view the situation. I for instance think it would be nice but I see an issue with the poverty line rising. If we give everyone a grant then what is stopping the price of standard living from rising? Also the issue of if people are able to live off the grant then what is promoting them to find jobs and work? Which then kills it’s own system because the economy isn’t being stimulated. In many places the system hasn’t worked and I think we should take that into account and focus elsewhere.









New Tech Research / Margot Harknett

Gene Therapy 2.0

Scientists have figured out a way to take an engineered virus and have it deliver healthy copies of a gene inside someone who has defective genes. They had complications at first, which halted the process when some patients were dying from the gene therapy. One problem they were having were that the viruses they developed to carry the cells took the genetic information to the wrong part of the gnome, leading to cancer causing genes to be activated. Another problem was the viruses would mess with the patient’s immune system, which would lead to organ failure. The emerging technology is called CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing and it has been used by researches at the University of Massachusetts (MIT) and Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) in successfully correcting hereditary tyrosinemia, a rare metabolic disease. CRISPR can be packaged into an AVV or adeno-associated virus, which is the most versatile gene delivery vehicle, and therefor scientists don’t need to send an entire gene because CRISPER is an editing system. This is a big step for gene therapy but it is just the beginning, researchers are looking into more complex common diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart failure, and cancer that would require multiple genes that aren’t always involved in every case. A Harvard geneticist named George Church says that someday everyone may be able to use gene therapy to combat the effects of aging.



Gene therapy 2.0: Will CRISPR make expensive treatment accessible to all?

Reading Response 3 / Margot Harknett

I found this article to be very interesting as it explores the forces that make an idea reality or reality produce an idea. In the article they categorize this as “matter” and “meta,” Call the context ‘the meta’ and call the artifact ‘the matter’. Strategic design work swings from the meta to the matter and back again, oscillating between these two states in order to recalibrate each in response to the other.” (45) In an example of a car the article points out that all the work that goes on in the background i.e. everything from the company’s cultural habits to it’s networking is “all dark matter; the car is the matter it produces.” (83) “The dark matter of strategic designers is organizational culture, policy environments, market mechanisms, legislation, finance models and other incentives, governance structures, tradition and habits, local culture and national identity, the habitats, situations and events that decisions are produced within. This may well be the core mass of the architecture of society, and if we want to shift the way society functions, a facility with dark matter must be part of the strategic designer’s toolkit.” (83) this explanation of what dark matter is and how it applies to design shows how much we need and take for granted what goes in to making society work. Some people just see design as something that just exists, when I talk about my major or the co-ops I have worked for I’ve had so many people tell me that they never thought that someone actually sat there and went though the long process of concept to final product. I worked for Frontgate designing doormats and while they aren’t matters of extreme importance a lot went into the making of one. Like the article says designers and clients alike are, “attracted to the shiny end of projects, rather than delving into the dark matter and settling in for the lengthy engagement with and organization.” (94) I feel like we all get caught up in this a lot of the time and we must remind ourselves that the relationship between artifact and the system must exist or a project will fail.

Another quote that I liked and I felt perfectly represented our class was, “to ‘get the measure of a job, to get close to it, (you) project its life to absurdity (in all directions: scale, function, material, etc.) and then pull back to some sense of boundary in what you propose to do’”. (91) This statement opened a whole new door for me, I always use to think ideas had to be realistic, that you could have some out of the box ones but that you had to keep yourself relatively in check. While that isn’t a bad thing to keep in mind it can cut down on creativity that has potential to spark other ideas. Using strategic design and the system of dark matter, “design cannot pursue some prescribed rational course of action towards a solution” (106) instead it explores all options to fully understand the situation. In an article I found called Strategic Design vs. Tactical Design, they describe strategic design (or dark matter) as being, “effective way to bridge innovation, research, management and design.”


Reading Response 2 / Margot Harknett

To be very honest this subject is out of my element and the article, at times, had me lost on the point it was trying to make. With that being said Streeck talks about the different ways capitalism might end pointing out it’s symptoms of decreasing growth rates, increasing public and private debt, and increases in inequality. Because of these things capitalism is not able to keep it’s promise of progress for the community. He also mentions though that capitalism was brought about because of the successful Cold War and neo-liberal political forces. With the economic collapse in 2008 though Streeck believes that policies put in place then were just a stopgap and we need to figure out ways to stabilize markets other than sitting on fiat money. When the capital’s money intake slows it causes problems with the working population. This leads to exploitation and democracy handing over power to independent agencies and individuals. As long as corporate profits remain high then we get shared prosperity for higher productivity.

From that Streeck gets into what he calls the five disorders of the capitalist system. Those are stagnation, oligarchic redistribution, plundering of the public domain, corruption, and global anarchy. With stagnation he talks about slow long-term growth rates and how things are exploited to keep profits up. Oligarchic redistribution some capitalists are moving away from the people and looking overseas. Plunder of the public though underfunding and capital gain depends on public goods. Corruption is rising when boundaries between legal and illegal, corporate and political are blurred. Finally global anarchy is being threatened in the US with our military being over stretched and our dollar value dropping. Essentially what Streeck is saying is that capitalism is being hit from all sides and the economy is holding on through a life-support of unlimited assets. Instead of history repeating itself and capitalism being overthrown by other views Streeck suggests it will end through suicide.

Reading Response 1 / Margot Harknett

In the article Speculative Everything the likelihood cone model I found very interesting and relative to what we consider as designers and also in our future as humanity. The idea is having each cone represent the possible, plausible, probable, and ultimately the preferable fanning out in an order or varying degrees so that the preferable option is angled up, reaching into the plausible and possible. When we look at design in this way it opens up areas where we are able to step into conceptual design and create fictional situations to better our lives and the world around us. That is only achieved if we step away from the marketplace of how our world is run on capitalism.

The article Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem, really drives home the fact that millennial are coming in tune with the world around them and are realizing that we won’t move forward unless we use a more collectivism approach to the way we run society. Pointing at the fact that what hinders us from a beneficial life for all is the distribution of power and wealth to big businesses. Decisions are made based off of profit more than the wellbeing of society.

The Rules article discusses the fact that instead of a politician we elected a businessman. This just hits on the point again that we run on a mindset that profit and money drive everything. At the same time it makes note that since we elected a businessman like Trump it proves that as a nation we are unhappy with the political system we currently have. The article talks about how working as a community, relying on our own hands rather than some higher political or economical figure we can build more of a creative growing world away from the media and mainstream politics.

The article I chose to relate to these was Capitalism Needs Design Thinking, an interview with Tim Brown and Roger Martin in IDEO. In it they discuss how what we have in the government today is not working, why it’s not working, and what needs to be changed. They point out the flaw that we keep seeing when they say, “What we’re working on now is the upside-down thesis—which postulates that government investment in a piece of infrastructure gets perverted and ends up not benefiting the folks it was designed for.” They follow that up by saying if the government worked the way design thinking works then things would go through ideations and ultimately be assessed by the user until it works. All of these articles related to the fact that the design process, “preferable” outcomes, and creative growth in the community cannot stem from a capitalist way of distributing power and praying off profit.


Source: https://www.ideo.com/post/capitalism-needs-design-thinking