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Can speculative design provide value in corporate settings? Show more Show less
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Speculative design (closely related to design fiction, design futures, or critical design) is the practice of designing future products or services as a way to explore the potential impacts of emerging technology or social or cultural trends. The practice shows up in art galleries and academic settings, but can it provide value in corporate settings where most incentives exist around the near term success of the organization?

Yes, speculative design can provide value in corporate settings Show more Show less

By fighting against the decision makers focus on the now, speculative design can expand consideration sets and improve the decision making of the organization.
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Speculative design focuses on technology's long term impact

The Argument

Amara’s Law states that people tend to overestimate a technology’s short term impact, yet greatly underestimate its long term impact. Problems can arise later on in a technology’s lifetime that could have been easily prevented if precautions were taken in the planning stages. Speculative design enables engineers to prepare for multiple possibilities, realistic or not. When Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby introduced the concept in 1996, they intended speculative design to be a progressive alternative to contemporary design. Functioning on an intellectual level and not concerned with the commercial market, speculative design places "new technological developments within imaginary but believable everyday situations” to address possible outcomes before they happen<sup><a class="ref-highlight" href="#reference-1">[1]</a></sup>. Specific aspects of technology can be ensured to be safe before it is too late. The Tesla Auto-pilot fatality raised concern in the general public over technology’s long term effectiveness. According to an MIT study, people want self-driving cars to be programmed to minimize the death toll<sup><a class="ref-highlight" href="#reference-2">[2]</a></sup>, something speculative design would guarantee. Companies have used the technique to investigate what the future could be like. Architectural firm BIG’s concept of designing a floating city addresses the influence rising sea levels could have on infrastructure, agriculture, and culture<sup><a class="ref-highlight" href="#reference-3">[3]</a></sup>. Speculative design helps shape difficult, future social issues, to better prepare ourselves for possible futures, and to investigate what the desired future is.<sup><a class="ref-highlight" href="#reference-4">[4]</a></sup>

Counter arguments

Speculative design primarily focuses on the long term impact of technology, attempting to prevent undesirable possibilities. Critics regard the concept as a safeguard from a dystopic future, such fictions “are often catered to privileged audiences and could actually be the representation of lived realities in many parts of the world”[5]. What speculative design fears most is a reality, and an alternative with an engaged and inclusive approach can guarantee an impact now.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://uxdesign.cc/speculative-design-for-the-real-world-551130b22827
  2. https://blog.optimalworkshop.com/what-is-speculative-design/
  3. https://arqa.com/en/architecture/oceanix-city.html
  4. https://www.gridd.nl/en/2019/11/4-examples-of-the-impact-of-speculative-design/
  5. https://design.cmu.edu/content/rethinking-speculative-and-critical-design
This page was last edited on Monday, 5 Oct 2020 at 07:29 UTC

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