Reading Response 5 | Emily Schaefer

The introduction of “Four Futures” by Peter Frase quickly jumps into the two conflicting dilemmas we face today – climate change and autonomous technology. Our (not so distant) future is going to experience unemployment on a large scale and at the same time, we’re seeing that our natural disasters are getting worse and worse.

The weird thing about all of this is that we can’t say that we “didn’t see it coming.” For years, we’ve heard the warnings from experts about climate change, and haven’t done much of anything about it. We’ve also seen movies that talk about robots taking over, and have laughed at the idea that it could actually happen.

For my generation, these issues don’t even seem real, yet they’re happening to us. I feel that even though we’re getting dumped with the bad news that these things will directly effect us (and our future families) – We’re still, in a lot of ways, being excluded from the conversation to talk about these issues. I’m not of the opinion that these two categories: automation and climate change are completely opposite problems, because for me, they’re still under the category of “things I can’t do anything about.” This is mainly because of politics, which Peter Frase says will have to be the cause for any of the 4 futures he talks about.

When you google search for millennials role in politics, you don’t see any one of us making a difference. Instead it’s a bunch of speculation about “why we’re not voting.” If we’re not in a position of power to make a difference, and aren’t being listened to, then how will we be able to help steer our futures into the right direction?

Millennials will have to make some really hard decisions coming up, and hopefully be able to see through the denialism taking place. I admire Peter Frase for trying to write about the future, as a way to warn what kind of futures should be prevented. I’m also glad that he’s adding in social inequality to the equation.

“If a robot takes your job, something else will surely be on the horizon.” – This opinion really bothers me, especially after going to college for so long and being in debt for the career that I’ve chosen. What worries me is that the people who think this way are more concerned with people “having jobs” than they are with a person’s quality of life and happiness. I wouldn’t want to be forced into trash collecting, just to be thankful to “have a job”.

And with climate change as well, Frase makes the point that:

“The key question surrounding climate change is not whether climate change is occurring, but rather who will survive the change.”

So it’s just a matter of who’s going to survive when all of these things happen (which might not be me or you!). I keep thinking about all of the hurricanes that we’ve had recently, and how thankful I am that I was unaffected by them. I wonder how climate change on a larger scale would effect me, and how I would survive that. Who’s paying the cost of ecological damage and who is enjoying the benefits of a highly productive, automated economy?

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I found this while doing some brand research for Tom’s:


I think the idea ties back to how big companies are responsible for giving money when we have natural disasters hit, but what if they could do more? Should they be responsible for more?

A guy named Aron Fried created these and asks “what if companies inspired other companies to give back?” Link

I thought this was a clever idea, so I searched about Aron some more and found out that he’s not just some random guy on the internet but an “Emmy-nominated Creative Director sitting at the intersection of brand storytelling and business understanding.”

Reading Response 1 / Severin Hackspiel

The book “Speculitive Everything” was about how to define critical design and in which context is should be set in. Mainly the biggest problem of critical design is the separation from design and art. That it is not one of them, but is deeply connected to both. Its problem that design is highly functional and non-critical and art is this only sometimes. So probably critical design is highly critical and non-functional art, which is used to focus and to invoke thought about how to live and in which future you want to live in.

It does that by using many technics which are found in other futurology fields, but it has more of an hypothetical approach to what could be than future predictions used in the industry.  It`s trying more to show real implications of living in an utopia or dystopia than showing what they really are. Also critical design products should be set in plausible futures more than in possible ones to connect more to the user.

Mainly the critic is, that today’s design doesn`t create as freely as architectural design, transportation design or graphic design in which there are more prototypes and non-functional future predictions to test our taste. These taste testers are used to look in which directions their designs language should go in the future. Some of them are critical about what they are forecasting, but many just do it to show how they envision the physical manifestations of their predictions.

So why we don`t see this done often with products and services? Probably it is too easy to create one of them, but bringing them into reality is much more expensive than just printing a poster. Also probably the abundance of designers in those other profession are making it much more crucial to distinct themselves from each other. This drive creates more future predictions and pro-bono work because they want to be hired and a company is looking for distinct styles and\or directions designers are thinking in. So to get a job they do have to do fictional work which are not based in present developments.

This is different for product and industrial designer which way more asked and probably only seen as designer which make a product more beautiful and not more capable. As this prejudice is changing more and more to a state in which it is seen what ID and PD can really do, there will be more tendencies to ask ID and PD to also think about problems of the future.

So if you want to create a critical design piece the main priority should be, to search an future prediction. One of my favorites is “City of slaves” from “Atelier van Lieshout” in which the artist collective is trying to predict a fully autarch community of 50.000 people. They`re taking the premise of having no footprint on the outer world to the extreme by predicting that everything is made out of human material. From food to the building blocks of the houses. They invented a chart in which human are categorized based on if they are smart, edible or healthy. By showing a new reality in which only the sole reference point is what you can contribute physically to a community they ask if we really want to have future built on this premise. They extended it into a whole art exhibition about that idea and had a lot of manifestations in different fields.

Showing extremes can be a good way to invoke thought and should be a way to connect to people. Showing them a vision which is plausible but so strange to imagine happing in the real world invokes the thought on how we could achieve or prevent this possibility.