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We don’t talk a lot about movies at Design Sojourn. Maybe we should?

Renowned futurist Ray Kurzweil, also a Googler working on machine learning and voice processing, reviews the latest Spike Jonze movie Her. Predictably the movie is about a man who falls in love with his operating system, or perhaps the artificial intelligence (AI) of his computer? Anyways the movie explores the notion of love and its manifestations.

While I’ve not seen the movie, I did feel troubled after watching the trailer. Though Charlize Theron, the voice of the AI Samantha, did help ease the discomfort. How about you?

Anyways Rays indicates that such learning and interactive “human level” AIs should come in about 2029, in about 15 years. A time of which with many of us would still be around. This would be made more possible with advances in tactile virtual reality systems that allow people to touch, shake hands or even kiss remotely.

I won’t go into too much more detail to spare you the spoilers, but Ray’s vision of the future is worth sharing:

In my view, biological humans will not be outpaced by the AIs because they (we) will enhance themselves (ourselves) with AI. It will not be us versus the machines (whether the machines are enemies or lovers), but rather, we will enhance our own capacity by merging with our intelligent creations. We are doing this already. Even though most of our computers — although not all — are not yet physically inside us, I consider that to be an arbitrary distinction.

Enjoy!

Via: Ray Kurzweil and Verge.

So it seems that Frog’s Chief Creative Officer, Mark Rolston, has left to start Argo a “new type” of design firm that is a hybrid mix of design agency, incubator and product development group.

With argo, Rolston is looking to create a nimble design group that can develop independent products in house, as well as work on more traditional design projects with customers, he told me in an interview. When it comes to launching products, argo could help raise funds to get those products to market. The group is already working on a cloud-based piece of software, and another product that’s further down the road that will be a physical product, Rolston said.

Indeed a great idea for a design firm, but this is nothing new. Many design firms, both big and small, are already doing this. I would consider this is a big name validation of a business concept that works.

With Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter moving the economic power from the corporations and/or VCs to the customer, the only missing link is knowledge. The knowledge of how to create stuff. So it’s only natural that the people WITH the knowledge jump on the bandwagon.

However I also am seeing a great opportunity for designers to be finally empowered with the financial means to create both meaningful and sustainable solutions that people want, rather than having to accepting briefs from organisations that are too financially driven.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Victor Papanek’s Design For The Real World to ponder about:

There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a very few of them. And possibly only one profession is phonier. Advertising design, in persuading people to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, in order to impress others who don’t care, is probably the phoniest field in existence today. Industrial design, by concocting the tawdry idiocies hawked by advertisers, comes a close second. Never before in history have grown men sat down and seriously designed electric hairbrushes, rhinestone-covered file boxes, and mink carpeting for bathrooms, and then drawn up elaborate plans to make and sell these gadgets to millions of people. Before (in the ‘good old days’), if a person liked killing people, he had to become a general, purchase a coal-mine, or else study nuclear physics. Today, industrial design has put murder on a mass-production basis. By designing criminally unsafe automobiles that kill or maim nearly one million people around the world each year, by creating whole new species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breathe, designers have become a dangerous breed. And the skills needed in these activities are taught carefully to young people.

In an age of mass production when everything must be planned and designed, design has become the most powerful tool with which man shapes his tools and environments (and, by extension, society and himself). This demands high social and moral responsibility from the designer. It also demands greater understanding of the people by those who practise design and more insight into the design process by the public.

Now go be awesome!

Via: Gigaom

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I thought you might like to know that I’ve been invited by my friends at the Shih Chien University Industrial Design Department to conduct a workshop to explore the future of the Design Practice and the Practice of Design.

Participants will understand and explore the changing roles of design and designers as a result of evolving industry trends and consumer needs. Central to our workshop discussions will be the function of Design Leadership and Design Research. I also think it will also be an interesting take on the application and evolution of Design Thinking from a Designers point of view. Have designers found a comfort zone with Design Thinking? Can designers better facilitate meaningful conversations? I’m really looking forward to this discussion!

Beyond Design is a 5-day workshop that will run in 2 phases. Phase 1 is from the 14 to 15 November 2013, and Phase 2 will run on the 8 to 10th of January 2014. Unfortunately it is by invite only, but I’ll see if the findings can be published soon.

The British Design Council has found that every £1 spent on design gives you over £20 in increased revenue, £4 increased profit and £5 in increased exports. A very nice and handy statistic to be liberally used in your next discussion with a business leader or decision maker.


Can’t see the video? Click here.

The Design Council has been working with the Arts & Humanities Research Council to measure the value that design thinking brings to small businesses.

What we found is that design thinking does so much more than just make products look nicer or work better, it improves the way a business operates.

Our research found that not only can design thinking increase the range of products a business develops, but it can also lead to more inspiring workplaces, happier staff, better service and, as a result, greater customer satisfaction.

For more details and the research evidence backing this video, visit the British Design Council’s mini site.

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