DESIGN AND THE POSTHUMAN PERSPECTIVE
How technology and transformations of human-artificial ecosystem affect the design culture
The Monodisciplinary Course “Innovation Culture and theories” wants to inquiry how transformation affects the sphere of human ecosystems, to investigate this change of our living environments.
It will observe and analyze the evolution of technological systems surrounding us, provides a crucial understanding of the perspective of change in the fields of design, materialization, and use of contemporaries’ products and services.
This territory has been mostly explored by literature, fiction and research – not only scientific– that envisioned scenarios of a possible change of perspective in the world: from an anthropocentric vision of the civilization process development to a vision where complementarity between the biosphere, info-semiosphere, and technosphere is modified irreversibly.
The scientific and technological acceleration in several different disciplinary fields is causing a growing transformative tension, that inherently changes the structures through which human ecosystems are born and grow.
The process of integrated digitization — which is the seam connecting all these scientific and technological transformations in various disciplinary fields — is nowadays increasingly powered by the exponential growth of computational capacity, resulting in the integration of new form of intelligence, that ranges from the artifact to the system. This techno-mechanical evolution is progressively applied in some aspects of the ecosystem, in a way that is more and more invisible, embedded, driven by a pervasive cybernetic logic and based on an “information-feedback-control” cycle.
The dense saturation of subjects and environments and their degree of interconnection enables the condition for a new Third space (Edward William Soja) where the structural action of agents-machines (physical and algorithmic), or even their simple existence, takes place.
All this produces a horizon of incredible change for the design discipline, which systematically has to deal with the connection between a single artifact’s structural characteristics and its capacity to express functions within a technological system in an appropriate domain.
In this sense, the culture of design has many points of contact within is a cultural field: changes in the structure of markets, new forms of production/supply of goods. For example through processes of digital fabrication, allowing autonomous materialization of artifacts for a growing number of subjects — and the simplification and miniaturization of technologies, that readily permit the embedment of interaction elements, connection, and control inside objects.
The analysis of cases, approaches, structures, models that use this renovated agency shows new model of interaction between the human and the artificial, expanding and modifying the boundaries of the cultural action for traditional design, on one hand in relation to single artefacts, on the other to the properties of those systems, connecting them to human through algorithmic interfaces (C.B. Frey & A. Osborne; Brynjolfsson E. & A. McAfee).
In this context, a new evolved user has an empowered agency and deals with a non-human domain, characterized by the exponential growth of automatic and systemic learning capability, by algorithmic models of cognition/communication.
The final effect of this great transition is a shift, from the traditional paradigmatic approach to the project in contemporary design. It has its foundation in a user-centered culture, in which the subject-object of the design action was a human user — toward a new hybrid-centred approach, where the subject-object are not necessarily human and therefore opening for a new agency which is not just human anymore, but post-human.
The Course will set out on a cultural, technical and scientific journey in this new emerging territory of post-human design, through a multidisciplinary dialogue.
It will discuss a new point of view in design and welcome contributions from fields of cognitive science, logic, philosophy of language, history of technology, new economic models, the theory of systems and policy science.
From a methodological point of view, the course will propose an experimental didactical approach, called flipped classroom. The course will be divided into Thematic Units (e.g.: “Diffusion of AI in daily practices”), each providing suggested readings (e.g.: essays, books, articles), videos and websites. Thematic Units will be introduced by the professor, and later discussed by the whole class in a guided exercise (in groups), building a process intended to establish an inquiry-based learning.
This methodology also aims to create an open knowledge approach, enhancing peer-to-peer knowledge access and sharing. Part of the goal is to rethink educator role, which should not be intended anymore as a magister (in a classical sense), but as a mentor, a guide through the difficult art of heuristic, in times where the quantity of information exceeds the capacity of knowledge embodiment for a single individual.
Partnerships and collaborations
As this is a theoretical-methodological course, cases studies will be discussed the didactical journey (possibly also with external guests), whenever necessary, to illustrate and better contextualize the course’s contents. Calendar with guests will be presented at the beginning of the course.