Service Designer & Design Strategist
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Futuring; the Implications of Intelligent Technologies’

A short-film scenario that prompts a discussion around the socio-political implications of intelligent technologies’ on human emotions and cognition.

Screengrab from short-film ‘Face It’

Screengrab from short-film ‘Face It’

 
 
 
True superintelligence might be attained via AI. There are, however, many fundamental uncertainties along this path. This makes it difficult to rigorously assess how long the path is or how many obstacles there are along the way.
— Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence
 
 

PROJECT OUTCOME

A short-film scenario that prompts a discussion around the socio-political implications of intelligent technologies’ on human emotions and cognition.

GENERAL INFO

Team: Celina Lacaze, Carolina Corseuil, Daniela V Sánchez, Johanna Tysk
Location: New York
Role: Researcher, Design Strategist, and Speculative Designer


 
 
 

CONTEXT

Intelligent technologies are on the cusp of achieving unimagined levels of automation. But where are its limits? Should everything be automated, if not, what, and why? Which areas could genuinely benefit if automated, and besides automation, what other models might AI facilitate?

For this project my team and I looked into the socio-political implications and opportunities of AI, machine learning, neural networks, and other related intelligent technologies used for automation. Choosing to focus on the social sphere, our team explored scenarios that looked into some of the possible social and psychological challenges that the technologies could affect.

Using an interdisciplinary approach to research we looked at signals of change that indicate how emerging developments in automation and intelligent technology could impact humans psychologically and socially. The following five points highlight our most salient findings:

  1. Automation and human flourishing - as technologies develop jobs are changing, increasing productivity but also freeing up time, which in turn raises questions around the future of work and its relation to human flourishing.

  2. Psychological effects - Cyborg anthropologist Amber Case and author Nicholas Carr have both separately researched and written about the personal and social impacts of human dependency on intelligent technology. Their research reveals a list of social and personal effects caused by increased access to technology, below three of those impacts:

    1. Changes in the way we perceive time and space.

    2. Changes in the way we connect with one another.

    3. Losses in our ability to focus and reflect.

    4. Our increased attention to intelligent and social technologies is resulting on negative impacts to our sense of happiness and personal fulfillment.

  3. Redesigning the human body - CRISPR-Cas9, advanced prosthetics, and enhancements to human biological brains, are amongst some of the technologies currently being used to modify the human body, accelerate evolution, and enhance our level of intelligence. Their use raises questions about the ethical implications of human augmentation, it’s impact on healthcare, and how to ensure equitable access to all.

  4. Passive connectivity & instant gratification - instant gratification and passive connectivity are raising concerns on the implication of technology as external distractions that can hinder the development of our inner lives.

  5. Technology and social capital - given the impact that intelligent and social technologies currently have on our perception of time and space, questions are being raised on the possible unintended consequences that these technologies may have on the development of our own social capital and emotional intelligence.

The following list outlines the five main paths and global trends of intelligent technology. (As outlined by Nick Bostrom in his book ‘Superintelligence’)

  1. Artificial Intelligence

  2. Whole Brain Emulation

  3. Enhancement of human biological brains

  4. Human Machine Interfaces

  5. Networks and Organizations


MY ROLE

The following four areas explain in more detail the extent of my role.

  1. Interdisciplinary Research - problem framing, implementing primary and secondary research, and, synthesizing and communicating research learnings.

  2. Futuring and Scenario Development - prospective sensemaking, global trends analysis, and scenario development.

  3. Visualization & Systems Thinking - using visualization and systems thinking practices to communicate and visualize scenarios.


OUTCOME

A short-film scenario that prompts a discussion around the socio-political implications of intelligent technologies’ on human emotions and cognition.

 
We become what we behold. We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.
— Marshall McLuhan
 

A.I. will play a role in defining not just our socio-political structures, but also our own human cognition and emotions. To explore the implications between these two, my team and I created a scenario where the five paths outlined by Nick Bostrom had been realized. Using strategic foresight methods we developed a worldview that took the signals of change we found in our research and extrapolated from them a new space where we could explore its ramifications.

To create this world we used polarity mapping and the STEEP model (Social, Technical, Environmental, Economic, Political) in order to understand the multiple perspectives in thinking about intelligent technology and delve deeper into the world. Ultimately, the project resulted in the creation of a short-film scenario that prompts a debate, raises questions, and challenges conditions and structures in the current development of intelligent technology. In particular it raises questions about the relation of intelligent technology and its impact on the natural world and our human condition.

The project is not intended to predict the future, rather it provides a story to an alternative future using research and informed speculation. Ultimately, the project leaves the audience with the question of “what role might intelligent technology play, or not play, in the development of our own human cognition and emotions?”.

 
 

PROCESS & VIDEO IMAGES