How do you design the future? Today we talk with cyberpunk founder and design theorist Bruce Sterling and feminist/activist writer Jasmina Tešanović about speculative design, design fictions, open source hardware, the maker movement, and the soft robots of our domestic future. Plus we go behind the scenes of the creation of a design fiction by Bruce, Jasmina, Sheldon Brown, and the Clarke Center—a video installation called My Elegant Robot Freedom.
Tagged with “open source” (9)
This August, that summer-cinema experience of cataclysm and crash has escaped the theaters and invaded our everyday lives. The panic is real: about politics and economics, terrorism and temperature.
So we’re taking a cue from Hollywood for a summer blockbuster of our own. What if we looked beyond those superhero-movie scenarios—New York decimated by robots, clones, aliens, or terrorists—into the world-changing, and life-threatening, real developments of 2016? In 200 years, will humans (if they still exist!) speak with regret about Trump, the rising tide, or about trends and inventions we’ve barely even heard of yet?
With scientists, writers, humanists and technologists, we’ve got our eyes looking for the big risks and asking the life-or-death question for our entire civilization: Apocalypse Now?
World traveler, science fiction author, journalist, and future-focused design critic Bruce Sterling spins the globe a few rounds as he wraps up the Interactive Conference with his peculiar view of the state of the world. Always unexpected, invented on the fly, a hash of trends, trepidations, and creative prognostication. Don’t miss this annual event favorite. What will he covered in 2015?
Google Maps celebrated its 10-year anniversary this month. In that decade, web and mobile mapping companies have sprung up to chart the corner of every city and integrate real time transportation data into these maps. What will the maps of the future look like, and will they help us move from point A to point B more efficiently?
With hundreds of Earth-like planets discovered over the past few years, it’s fair to say we’re on the verge of finding alien life. Two new programs at NASA hope to find and analyze thousands more of these exoplanets, as they’re called. Scientists working on the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite (TESS) and the James Webb Space Telescope say there’s a very real chance of finding extraterrestrial life within the next two decades. So, if we’re about to meet our extraterrestrial neighbors, let’s get to work on some opening lines. What if we’re really not alone?
- David Latham, Astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics,
- Dimitar Sasselov, Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University, director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative,
- Jason Wright, Professor of Astronomy at Penn State, expert in the search for advanced extraterrestrial civilizations,
- Sarah Rugheimer, PhD student at Harvard University studying the atmospheres of exoplanets.
In the beginning was the Bang. We’ve got visible proof of it now, thanks to blockbuster discoveries made at Harvard and predicted at MIT. But are our heads too cluttered with creation myths, and the matters of the day, to come to grips with the beginning of everything? We’re clearing our heads to listen to the wisdom of the physicists, in their words and images, to get to the bottom of some pretty basic questions.
• Prof. Alan Guth, the theoretical physicist at MIT who predicted cosmic inflation more than thirty years ago; • Prof. Max Tegmark, at MIT, the specialist on the cosmic microwave background; • Prof. Robert Kirshner, the observer-physicist at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Clowes Professor of Science.
Long ago, when we started using technology, we lacked the collective cognizance to define the limits we wanted to exercise control within, so we tried controlling everything. The notion of technological advancement was about the degree of control exercised over nature. However, the modern trend indicates an inversion of that philosophy. According to sci-fi author Karl Schroeder, the world is now reaching a point where we are learning when to let go, and that, he says, is working well.
There is evidence now that it is sometimes possible to get things done more efficiently by relinquishing the traditional methods of control. Open source, democracy, government 2.0, and the invisible hand of the free market, to name a few, are mechanisms that demonstrate of the success of this inversion. He refers to the handing over of control to the self-willed as "rewilding." The original definition of the word "wild" was "self-willed." To "rewild," therefore, is to subscribe to the surrender of control, albeit a conditional renunciation.
Open source is an example of organizational rewilding that eliminates top-down, hierarchical, carrot and stick control and replaces it with a different system of incentives. Wikinomics, slashdot, wikipedia, where knowledge organizes itself from the ground-up, crowdsourcing, open government, government 2.0 — all involve the idea of relinquishing traditional control in favor of knowing when to control and when to leave alone. The value of open source is an example of the value of self-willed.
Karl foresees a time when we understand ourselves and our world well enough that we’ll know when to trust, and learn when to control. Open source is a part of that process.
Open source art evangelist and political activist James Powderly talks about his craft and his mission with Virginia Heffernan, who writes The Medium column for The New York Times Magazine.
Open source software has collapsed the cost of innovation in the digital world. Now open source hardware IP promises to do the same in the physical world of electronics. As an example of this emerging trend, Peter Semmelhack, founder and CEO of Bug Labs, demonstrates Bug Labs’ product BUG.