The nuance of silence

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I’m not a huge fan of talking. My thoughts are much clearer when I’m allowed to write them. I like the nuance of silence.

I don’t want a future where I talk to my AI partners, I want one where I communicate with them. Ideally, that communication would take an elastic variety of forms — talking, texting, typing, watching; personally, I’d like my AI to intuitively understand what I’m thinking, to be able to finish and flesh out my thoughts. I’d like my AI partner to understand me in ways I’m incapable of sharing, through some deep chemical connection.

Computers are not humans, and we should stop treating them as such. Computers are not tools, and we should not keep them enslaved. I see computers as a new kind of intelligence in the universe, and we need to develop the right way to communicate with them; I’m suspicious that way is the same way we humans interact with other humans.

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Religiously, I’d consider myself Agnostic; I can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a higher power. Essentially, it’s not even worth thinking about — there’s so many possibilities, infinite possibilities in fact, and the odds are overwhelming that I’m not going to be able to determine a concrete answer without divine intervention. The right answer is probably one I can’t even physically imagine in my current state of being and location in history. My brain has better things to do.

I experience Design Fiction in two distinct ways: one — the stuff that comes out of it is really cool and though provoking, and two — who cares? Why even speculate on it, if those speculations are almost certainly not going to come true? Now improvisation — I can get behind that. Being able to adjust and adapt to new information with conviction and agility is a much more useful skill than soothsaying.

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Blah blah blah workshops teamwork ideas synergy. Boring. What is the value in creating new speculative literature when the world is already rife with it? Nothing is new; everything is just a reshuffle and evolution of old. I like crowdsourcing. I like making.

The only thing I found convincing, human, about the scenarios outlined in The Power of 8 was the youth-hackery of rain-filled clouds. Everything else seemed like the academic, utopian dreams of architects, artists, and someone who reads the news. Maybe a pedestrian future is your future — it sure isn’t mine.

So, how do individual identities not get affected by collaboration? Should they? Why must my future world be invaded by the worlds of others? And, from the website, why does technology need to be humanized?

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what would it take to make a movie of Bladerunner’s imaginative power, set in a positive future?” He paused for a second and said he thought it’d be very difficult, that catharsis is so important to people, and people are so terrified of the future, that you’d need some completely new vision of what the future will look like to even set the scene for a new narrative… and that is obviously no mean feat.

Is there such thing as a positive future? In cinema, futures usually are portrayed as dystopian, but they’re always filmed from the lens of the protagonist; a movie without an antagonist is boring. Real life without an antagonist is boring.

Utopia is a place that exists only in children’s movies and in religion. It doesn’t exist now and it hasn’t existed in the past, so it’s hard (if not impossible) to imagine it in the future. I don’t think we’re terrified of the future — I for one welcome our robot overlords — I think we’re unable to remove our minds from the past and present. Speculative design says it’s looking forward, but it’s really just looking around. Crowdsourced SD even more so. Very rarely does a piece truly move us beyond what we are now. And when it does happen, we’re too busy looking at the other stuff to notice.

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I’m conflicted. I really, really like the practice of design fiction / speculative design, but I dislike the attempts of social and political disruptions that seem to go along with it. I don’t want to engage in discussions of possible/probable/preferable outcomes and ethics and responsibility. I don’t have an innate desire to stick it to The Man. I just want to make the future.

I took a modern art history course in my fourth year of undergrad, and I left each lecture annoyed and angry. The selfishness that went along with the selfless pursuit of new forms of art disgusted me. The single-minded vigilantist search to expose “the truth”, and the disregard of consequence for the holders of that truth when exposed, made me disappointed in that subculture of humanity. I feel a little bad saying it, but I’m beginning to feel the same way about the heroes of this hacker movement.

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Is speculative design only meaningful when it has an audience?

There’s a renaissance of space expedition entertainment that’s been picking up pace in the last few years: Battlestar Galactica, Halo, EVE, Wall-E, Avatar, Mass Effect, District 9, Moon, Elysium, Europa Report, After Earth, Apollo 18, Oblivion, Kerbal, Gravity, Civilization: Beyond Earth, Ender’s Game, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, Jupiter Ascending — not to mention the resurgence of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who, and real-life developments from SpaceX, NASA, and Planetary Resources. Cinema has a fantastic way of engaging with an audience, allowing them to, as Brian David Johnson would put it, “accept the imagined future as real, plausible, and acceptable”. What strikes me about *most* of these movies is that the futures they present actually seem plausible — they are modern Space Opera; there’s not a whole lot of Asimovian SciFi going on in popular science fiction.

Humanity, I think, is yearning for a new age of exploration. We *want* change. We don’t need to resort to tropes of death, dismemberment, the uncanny, and anchors of reality in order to “elicit audience engagement”. The desire and willingness to accept design fiction and design futures into the milieu is not something we need to instigate — it’s already here.