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YOUR BIWEEKLY DOSE OF EVERYTHING SPECULATIVE

DESIGN // FICTION // TECHNOLOGY // ART

 
   
 
 
 

SciFly // 153 // Remote Speculations Week 53/54

Speculative Events, News & Resources | Sent 3/22


Hey SciFly Readers!

It's been another blur of a two weeks, stuck (mostly) at home working by day, working by evening, and playing video games with friends in between. 

I also had a really fun opportunity to participate in a panel discussion with Andrés Valencia and Luisa Ji, my collagues from the Desing Futures Initaitive, hosted by Shared Studios and Planet Word Museum in D.C. The discussion was on the Language of Innovation. You can check out the recording here (I think I did a few good zingers in there!) and here is a quick synopsis.



Planet Word x Shared Studios: Language of Innovation
Language is one of the most powerful tools for sparking creative thinking and imagination; the questions we ask ourselves shape the possibilities we are able to explore. Design thinking and speculative design methodologies inspire people to create innovative solutions, with questions such as “What if?” and “How Might We?” to guide the process. The semantics of these questions are important: the ‘how’ part assumes there are solutions out there; the ‘might’ leaves room for possibilities; and the ‘we’ part assumes collaboration. This interactive workshop will explore the language behind innovation with futures thinkers from around the world who are using language to investigate the futures we want to build and the futures we want to avoid. Put these methodologies into action and learn how to imagine and create a better future.
Watch Recording
 


So Now Other People Are Into NFTs?


Otherwise, one thing that has caught my interest, and caused me to revisit some past passions has been the crazy popularity in NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) over the last. few months. As you may have noticed, there has been a huge uptick in the sale of these digital assets, mostly on the Ethereum blockchain (but not always) and everyday news is coming out of another type of NFT being minted (created) or sold for ridiculous amounts of money.

This perked my interest because I actually randomly have a couple of NFTs. Many of which I got for free, or for super cheap back when Ethereum was a fraction of what it is worth now. During the ICO craze of 2017, I was super into the blockchain. I had done my graduate school thesis on it, attended IDEO CoLab's Summer Fellowship in San Francisco, and joined a group focused on blockchain innovation. I lived and breathed blockchain. As a result, I was always picking up new types of cryptocurrency, or joining emerging projects ICOs, token-drops, raffles etc. Even back then, I could see the glimmers of shape that is slowly beginning to emerge now, as web-3 made it possible to interact with blockchains on websites, the ERC-721 standard came out enabling a new type of digital asset, the NFT, to emerge as a uniquely different way of storing and exchanging value over blockchain networks. It was fun to try out all of the new things and see just how far they could go, which sadly, wasn't super far at the time, before blockchain infrastructures were as widespread as they are today, and before many of the issues around speed and scalability were solved for.

Now, 4 years later, I find myself booting up the old wallets and checking, what assets do I even have exactly, and how much are they worth? Turns out some of them might be worth ALOT.  

More interesting, is what these NFTs I own represent. What exactly are they? Well...they represent:
  • Cats randomly generated from a subset of different images (eyes, fur, and so on)
  • Basically a pokemon, but not, generated the same way
  • A 24x24 pixel art image generated algorithmically of punky-looking guys & girls.
  • A 'limited' edition of a piece of digital art
  • Armor and weapons of Rare quality that I earned playing a video game
  • The "deed' to a piece of land in a virtual world (basically edit rights)
  • Ownership of the name 'docmartens' in a virtual world (no one else can use it.
  • Clothing and accessories my avatar can wear in a virtual world, much of it rare or epic since it was obtained by playing games during a launch event
  • Edit rights to a 4 pieces of virtual land held cooperatively with a district of people who want to build 'cyberpunky' experiences


So all together.. a pretty mixed bag.

In doing this, I also revisited many of the blockchain projects I helped sponsor in the early days (basically I staked in their ICO) are actually doing pretty well (finally) and starting to operate on their mission. For example, I finally got back into Decentraland and saw that there is TONS more content that people have been creating, events, live voice chat, and a bunch of new interactive building elements that land-owners can use to sync into other types of content (e.g. a tv monitor 3d asset that syncs to a live-stream, a picture-frame that will hold NFT art you own). 

With all of this hype, and all of these improvements, I kept wondering, where is this all going?

I've always thought the best way to describe NFTs (for someone learning about them) is as 'in-game currency'. Imagine that you could take all of the gold/crystals/Gil whatever you earn in a video game, bring it out of the game, and trade it for things in other video games. Now, imagine you can trade it for 'real money or at least for real products and services that you want. That's crypto. Now imagine that you could take the Sword of Untold Power that you spent 300 hours grinding to achieve, and are one of only 5,000 people in the world to get, and sell that for other goods and services. This is the future represented by NFTs. The video game just got a whole lot bigger. In fact, it's starting to resemble a metaverse.

Over and over this year I have seen small signals of emergent metaverses, and NFTs surge in popularity is another interesting thread in the story. We already know that people place a lot of value in virtual creations, their own and others. People spend lots of time and money playing video games, creating art for friends, sharing their thoughts, recommendations, recipes, etc. In many ways, NFTs are a way to capture that value and trade it, much as we might with another craft or product someone makes physically. (and it would be really interesting to see NFTs combined with physical things as well...) At the same time, people have spent more and more time in the digital world this year than ever before, stuck at home during the pandemic. I have spent HOURS playing a fictional game about Vikings (of all things) because I can connect in real-time with people to join in on collectively creative pursuits, share ideas, help one another, and create cool things that they can use and enjoy. How is that not valuable? 

So it doesn't surprise me that NFTs are finally enjoying their day in the spotlight. They are a vehicle for us to assign (and trade) value for our digital time and energy. More and more we will see digital platforms,  games, metaverses, etc. that allow us to showcase and use them in new ways, bringing that value up further. I'm not sure what this future will look like, but I imagine that one day I'll be able to hop in and out of metaverses, elaborate 'video games' that are really whole new worlds filled with people, games, jobs, creative pastimes, etc, and that I'll be able to 'earn value' in these worlds by spending time and creative energy within them.

For now, I'll just hodl onto my blockchain cats, my punky art, and my slice of a future virtual world and see what happens. Who needs $$$ when you might have a stake in something that could turn out awesome?

Now, I have to get out there and trying making some myself. :D

Speaking of, for a really cool breakdown of what it is like to mint NFTs, check out this rundown by my friend Adam Zeiner, 'I minted a #GlitchInTheWild as my an NFT, and here's how I approached that'.

Anyway, that is enough blockchain-glomming for one night!

As always, I hope you are all doing well, wherever you are!

Don't forget you can find me on the Speculative Futures Slack (which I pseudo-moderate) if you want to chat! @DocMartens

Stay safe in your speculations, and catch you next week!

❤️Doc

"The future is here, now let's distribute it." 
 

Doc Martens


SciFly is a design studio dedicated to leveraging speculative design and science fiction to imagine and prototype alternative futures enabled by today's emerging technology.
 
 
   
 
 
 

Online Events 🗓

Events are organized chronologically by week with events from Speculative Futures chapters listed separately at the end.

WEEK 1 - Tuesday, March 23rd - Monday, March 29th

Tuesday, March 23


Extant: The past, present and future of inclusive design in the arts // 2pm - 3pm EDT // Free
Rhianne Rowson, of Extant, will be kicking off our new series with a look at inclusivity in the arts. Extant is the UK's leading professional performing arts company of visually impaired artists and theatre practitioners, producing touring productions, delivering training regionally and internationally, and articulating and celebrating what visual impairment brings to the performing arts. Rhianne will be speaking on the purpose of Extant and the impact of the pandemic, exploring the current and past state of design within the arts and its accessibility for visually impaired people, and looking to the future. 
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Altered Consciousness: Between Virtual & Real // 3pm - 6pm // Free
A virtual mosh-pit for Gnostics! A monthly series of lectures in Virtual Reality showcasing the Returning Adventurers of the Imaginal Realm. Come Immerse yourself in the New Abnormal! Join us each month to listen to the world’s emerging mystics, thinkers, esotericists and explore their findings and theories!
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Imperfect Worlds: An Artist Talk with Lorin Roser and Eva Davidova // 12:30pm - 1:30pm EDT // Free
Join us for a panel talk on Zoom exploring strategies for creating imperfections and anomalies in fantasy digital worlds to replicate reality more reliably. As we struggle to vacation during the pandemic artists create virtual worlds animated by extraordinary architectural abilities and unconventional forms born from mathematical constructs and codes. New advances in technology allow interaction and real-time ray-tracing. Hybrid digitally constructed and videographic presentations allow for novel experiences in documenting the exodus into virtual spaces.
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Public Lecture: Climate Change as Seen from Space // 5:30pm - 6:30pm EDT // Free
Extreme weather events are constantly in the news, from devastating wildfires to destructive hurricanes. These natural disasters have tremendous impacts on our lives and economy, causing billions of dollars in damages and hundreds of deaths every year. With the growing availability of data from space-based observations of Earth, researchers are now learning to identify when some classes of extreme events (such as heat waves, drought, coastal flooding, and intense precipitation) are caused or worsened by anthropogenic climate change. Is it possible to connect the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events with climate change? How do space-based observations of Earth support the latest in climate science?
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Parsons's Design & Technology Cloud Salon // 7pm EDT // Free
For the Design & Technology Cloud Salon next Tuesday, we're honored to host Kennedi Carter, a fine arts photographer with a primary focus on Black subjects and cultural media studies. Next week's artist talk is curated by black beyond.
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Wednesday, March 24

Made in Brooklyn: Artists, Hipsters, Makers, Gentrifiers // 2pm - 3pm EDT // Free
Made in Brooklyn is a belated critique of the Maker Movement: from its origins in the nineteenth century to its impact on labor and its entanglement in the neoliberal economic model of the tech industry. Part history, part ethnography, Made in Brooklyn provides a unified analysis of how the tech industry has infiltrated artistic practice and urban space. the event is hosted by Birmingham School of Architecture and Design as part of the Masters in Architecture Research Conference 2021. 
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CLOTHES AND CONCEPTS: Methods for a new materialism // 12:30 - 2pm EDT // Free
This lecture explores emergent approaches to the study of material culture, thinking specifically about the sensory study of dress. Placing the study of dress in the philosophical tradition of phenomenology, it asks “How do objects yield concepts?". Tracing the broader history of fashion studies, the lecture argues for the crucial role of clothes in the establishment of cultural studies. And, tracking new trends in the field, the lecture suggests how the latest developments in fashion research serve to crystallise some of our most urgent social and political issues, making the study of dress crucial to our understanding of labour, identity and digital life.
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Digital Intimacy: What Video Games Can Teach Us About Love // 4pm - 5:30pm EDT // Free
How do you make friends and create community in a game? How do you detect toxicity in games when the only ways to connect with people is digitally? In this conversation with game designers Lindsay Grace, Mitu Khandaker and Latoya Peterson, you’ll get a deeper understanding of how we can use technology to fill in those places where you might be lacking in your life. Presented by the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, co-sponsored by Visions & Voices and Arts in Action, this conversation is part of a longer series of events under Portal: A Healing & Dreaming Experience of Afrofutures.
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Considering Art : Considering Identity // 7pm - 8:30pm EDT // Free
On March 24th, join Mark as together we explore the urgent work of artist Yinka Shonibare MBE. In this tour, we look to challenge our understanding of history, tradition and the mechanisms supporting their constructions. Embarking on a path towards unlearning - we aim to problematize, evoke and bear witness to what makes us us. We ask: What does it mean to be present? How might existing infrastructure enforce the process of othering? How do we create/maintain the space of both interior and exterior? How may we all live more equitable and inclusive lives?
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Thursday, March 25


🔥 Rewilding the Future // 1pm EDT // Free
Artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and Jane Calvert, Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Edinburgh, have collaborated together before – critically ‘investigating synthetic biology’s designs on nature’. Using Growth Assembly (a work that will be shown at Talbot Rice Gallery, by Ginsberg & Sascha Pohflepp) and a small selection of Ginsberg’s previous projects as a springboard, this conversation will question the attitudes we project on to the future and the implications they have for different ecological systems. Rewilding the Future promotes a decentring of human perspectives – in order to avoid continuing the cycle of colonising, industrialising and marketising nature – and the important role art can play in generating different forms of knowledge: in the context of The Normal, something of a toolkit for thinking into post-COVID-19 realities.
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🔥Critical Conversations: Mohawks in Jetpacks // 2pm - 3:30pm EDT // Free
Skawennati will present some of her art projects from this millenium, in which she imagines Indigenous people in the future. Skawennati makes art that addresses history, the future, and change from her perspective as an urban Kanien’kehá:ka woman and as a cyberpunk avatar. Her work has been widely presented in both group exhibitions and solo shows and is included in public and private collections, such as the National Gallery of Canada and the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. She was honoured to receive the 2019 Salt Spring National Art Prize Jurors’ Choice Award, a 2020 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship and a Visiting Artist Fellowship at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. She’s represented by ELLEPHANT.
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On Cultural Analytics & AI Aesthetics: Lev Manovich and McKenzie Wark // 7pm - 9pm EDT // Free
Leading digital culture theorist Dr. Lev Manovich joins writer and scholar McKenzie Wark for a conversation. We conclude with a poetry reading from Stephen Ira. Dr. Lev Manovich is one of the leading theorists of digital culture worldwide and a pioneer in the application of data science for analysis of contemporary culture. Dr. Manovich is the author and editor of 15 books including Cultural Analytics, AI Aesthetics, Theories of Software Culture, Instagram and Contemporary Image, Software Takes Command, Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database and The Language of New Media. McKenzie Wark is the author, among other things, of Reverse Cowgirl (Semiotexte 2019) and Capital is Dead (Verso 2019). She teaches at The New School. Stephen Ira is a writer, filmmaker, and performer. His poetry has appeared, or shortly will, in venues like DIAGRAM, Poetry, Fence, American Poetry Review, and tagvverk.
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Intersections 2021: Bodies/technologies  // 11:30am - 1pm EDT // Free
Technologies affect the embodied experience of being a human in this world. Technologies read, interpret and mediate bodies. Technological enhancement, care, surveillance and control are topics that play a role in the works of the artists Nicola Woodham, Sophie Hoyle and Katie Tindle. We are happy to welcome three artists to each present an aspect of their work and join a panel discussion, where we will explore and consider how technology can be both empowering and oppressive.
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Coda Live: Panopticon // 1pm - 2:30pm EDT // Free
In a panopticon, prisoners never know whether or not they are being watched. With modern surveillance systems, everyday life feels very similar. Coda Live: Panopticon is an online live storytelling event, which brings together stories on surveillance and facial recognition from around the world. We will talk about how this technology is used in China, Russia and Europe. People who have personally been affected will tell their stories and Coda journalists will bring them to life with art, music and conversation. The event will feature a moderated discussion with people from all over the world who’ve lived under surveillance.
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Creative Minds Panel: Discussing the Intersection of Mental Health + Design // 7:00 pm - 8:30pm EDT // Free
Art and design students are especially prone to intense anxiety and depression. In a 2020 study, 47 percent of students in the arts were found to have some form of depression, compared to 39 percent in the general student body. And for professionals in the field, burnout and anxiety are all too common. Open conversations are the first step toward building empathy for others, and better habits for ourselves. This series celebrates successes and raises awareness of artists and designers thriving in tough times. All advocates, allies, artists and designers are welcome.
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5G and Me // 2:30pm - 3:30pm EDT // Free
As with all major technical advances, “change” will be required to take advantage of the potential. The transformation required will be described and examples of the many new services that we are likely to see will be explored, including, for example: Remote and automated (mobile) device control, Internet of Things and the many opportunities enabled by freeing applications requiring broadband speeds from the confines of wired and WiFi networks. In this webinar Dr. Lester Thomas will give an overview of what 5G is and how we are likely to use it in the (near) future. With 5G, mobile internet at (faster) landline data speed, reliability and cost becomes available to “everyone”.
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Crip Ecologies: Kay Ulanday Barrett, Petra Kuppers, and Naomi Ortiz // 8pm - 9:15pm EDT // Free
Join us for a reading with Kay Ulanday Barrett and Petra Kuppers, followed by a moderated discussion with Naomi Ortiz centering the intersection of disability justice and ecopoetics. How can access culture further the project of mutually sustaining care, for each other, kin species, and the planet?
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E17 Art Trail IDEA SPARKS Talk: Creative Climate 3 // 3:30pm - 5pm EDT // Free
Panel discussion with artists and creative climate activists to interrogate the E17 Art Trail theme: Possible Futures. In preparation for the E17 Art Trail 2021 we are hosting a series of 3 live panel discussions to share the different ways artists and creatives are adapting their practice in response to the climate emergency. It also ties nicely to our art trail theme of Possible Futures. 
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Biometric Mirror – Discussing Ethics in the Public Arena // 12am - 1:30am EDT // Free
Biometric Mirror is an ethically provocative AI-driven installation that offers a glimpse into a future of unregulated automated decision-making. Dubbed a weird mix between phrenology and machine-driven profiling, the project enables the public to participate in the debate about technology ethics, by (1) enabling interaction with a personalized AI, (2) confronting people with potential, real-world consequences of AI, and (3) inviting them to share opinions and concerns. In this talk, I will present the research rationale behind Biometric Mirror and its significance, and illustrate future opportunities for this form of research.
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Multistory by Prem Krishnamurthy // 2pm EDT // Free
CHANGES:CLIMATE - What is being done across the industry to stem the tide of the climate crisis? How is a creative arts institution such as ours best equipped to address the most pressing issue of our age? The CHANGES:CLIMATE series will explore climate action through design, technology and community, and discuss what needs to change to make the biggest difference. MULTISTORY* is a student and alumni led guest lecture programme series at Canterbury School of Architecture, University for the Creative Arts, seeking to invite architects, designers, writers, curators, photographers and artists to speak about their work.
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Friday, March 26


Lecture: The Future of Protest in a Post-Digital Age // 12pm EDt // Free
In "The Future of Protest in a Post-Digital Age", Anthony Downey outlines the impact of digital technologies on contemporary protests. Throughout this short presentation he poses a series of questions about the future of protest and how social media, through algorithmic means, effectively prescribes our understanding of historical events (including the Arab revolutions of 2011 and, more recently, the attacks on Capitol Hill in 2021). Given the extent to which algorithms determine whether an incident is viewed as “newsworthy” or not, it is increasingly important to enquire into what digital technologies will afford us when it comes to future acts of protesting.
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On Time and Water with Andri Snær Magnason // 3pm - 4:30pm EDT // Free
In the next century, the Earth’s oceans will undergo fundamental change. Glaciers will melt, sea levels will rise, and the acidity of sea water will change more than it has in the last fifty million years. These changes will affect all life on Earth—within the oceans and beyond—straining ecosystems, shifting biological patterns, and creating dire challenges for future generations of humanity. The implication of these changes is the central question of Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason’s best-selling book, On Time and Water. In a new theatrical performance based on his book, Andri partners with composer and musician Högni to draw upon the power of storytelling to effectively convey these coming changes that are of such great magnitude that they are difficult for the mind to grasp. Through tales of glaciers, memories of his grandparents, and stories told by the Dalai Lama, renowned scientists, and other great thinkers, Andri brings On Time and Water to life for audiences.
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The 4th Paradigm: Utilizing the Potential of Artificial Intelligence // 8am - 8:45am EDT // Free
Artificial Intelligence is a fairly new technology being used in a wide range of practical areas. While showing great potential in predicting outcomes both in the private and commercial sphere, AI might also pose some challenges as the privacy of consumers and citizens can be compromised. However, learning about the fundamentals of AI, both technically and conceptually, is paramount in understanding this new technology that will only gain more traction and influence more areas of society. Furthermore, it is essential that AI still represents the society and world we live in. But how can we be part of ensuring this if we are not data scientists?
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Ideating 2030: 2021 MIT Tech Conference // 3/26, 8am - 3/27, 8pm EDT // Free
This historically sold-out student-led event typically attracts 400+ students, founders, investors, academics and industry professionals. As we shift to a virtual event this year, we want to leverage our expanded reach in order to include thinkers from across the world. Topics this year include tech for social justice, diversity in tech, artificial intelligence, business going digital, mobility, and consumer tech. In keeping with MIT Sloan School of Management’s mission to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world, the 2021 MIT Technology Conference theme is “Ideating 2030” – looking ahead to how technology will and is changing the way we learn, govern, and work.
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Histories of Artificial Intelligence: A Genealogy of Power // 9:30am - 10:30am EDT // Free
Fears about misinformation, fake news, stolen elections, and events like the recent ‘A-Level Algorithm’ debacle demand reflection on the aims of our digital future. Where, exactly, are we going, and why? Understanding our future requires understanding our past - where we’re coming from determines where we’re going. It’s not just the hype, but the history of artificial intelligence that matters. Our panel unites experts in the History of Science and Technology and in Literary Studies for an interactive hour-long presentation drawn from sustained dialogue with hundreds of scholars based around the globe.
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Saturday, March 27


IEEEVR // 3/27, 2/2 // $30 - $80
The IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (IEEE VR) is the premier international event for the presentation of research results in the broad areas of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR/AR/XR). Since 1993, IEEE VR has presented groundbreaking research and accomplishments by virtual reality pioneers: scientists, engineers, designers, and artists, paving the way for the future. Soon, IEEE VR expanded its scope to also include augmented, mixed, and other forms of mediated reality. Similarly, the IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces (3DUI), which started as a workshop at IEEE VR in 2004, has become the premier venue for 3D user interfaces and 3D interaction in virtual environments. In 2018, VR and 3DUI were merged into the IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces, with the short name IEEE VR. In 2020, VR was the first major IEEE conference to be held entirely online and in a virtual environment.
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Sunday, March 28

Fabricating with Fungi @ Genspace // 11am - 2pm EDT // $25 - $50
Our world is in need of sustainable, bio-based products and materials. Biotech companies are quickly adopting fungi into their processes because they continuously outperform existing substances. Examples of emerging fungal materials are leather-like textiles, faux-meats and industrial food & cosmetic dyes. The more we learn about fungi’s versatility, the more warranted the exploration.
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Creativity And The Future Part 1: How Creatives Will Shape The Future // 6pm - 7:30pm EDT // Free
parth_e + Studio Coles present a new series of online events exploring the impact creatives have on building our future during these times of flux. The series will run throughout the year and will include panels, community discussions, workshops and activities to explore each theme in detail. In the first session of our Creativity And The Future series, we look at how creatives working across a number of product, spatial, architectural and experiential practices may be using their talents to shape what’s next. This 60-minute discussion will be followed by a short guided creative exersize.
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Monday, March 29


The Things We Made Next // Artists Talk // 3/29, 11pm - 3/30, 12am EDT // Free
 The Things We Made Next, future thoughts, today’s possibilities. Alex K, our Keeper of Time, will transport us between the design states of 2021 and 2029. Hear from our curator, Elliat Rich and The Things We Made Next designers as they share their insights and reflections across time, space, politics and community. Panelists: Alex K, Elliat Rich, Alison Page, Su san Cohn, Ella Cutler, tessa Zettel, Damien Wright.
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Why Algorithmic Accountability Matters // 6:30pm - 7:30pm EDT // Free
Join members of Valkyrie data science team as they discuss the responsibility that data science practitioners have and how to take ownership of models and implementation. This panel, with Principal Data Scientist Betsy Hilliard, Data Scientist Keatra Nesbitt, and Account Manager Evan Bleiweiss, will discuss being accountable for data, models and methodology, and implementation of use.
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WEEK 2 - Tuesday, March 30th - Monday, April 5th

 

Tuesday, March 30

Tales from the CyberSalon  – #1 New Normals in Health // 1:30pm EDT // Free
Spanning four events across the year, ‘Tales from the Cyber Salon’ will feature newly commissioned, speculative short stories written for the exploration of Healthcare, The High Street, Social Communities and Political Representation. We will explore our tales on this theme and those of scaling care, data protection, intersections with AI, robotics and machine learning.
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What If Buildings Could See? // 9am - 9:45am EDT // Free
Latent Façade is a site-specific media artwork which celebrates the history of ground-breaking research developed at the Science Park. Using computer vision as an essential research and artistic tool, the artwork teaches the building to see, and creatively re-imagines its surroundings. Inspired by the work of Sir Neville Mott, who was instrumental in the Foundation of Cambridge Science Park, the artwork is an exploration of image processing techniques.
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Wednesday, March 31


🔥reFrame : Weaving Indigenous Perspectives in Design // 2am - 3am EDT // Free
In this session, we will explore the embodied, situated, social, speculative and reflective orientation of design as a relational practice that can learn from and be deepened by an acknowledgment of Indigenous knowing and being. Part of the reFrame program, this online panel discussion will explore how an Indigenous lens can productively reframe colonial or modernist perspectives on design research, education and professional practice. Reference to existing Indigenous methodologies, research projects and case studies will frame the conversation before opening up for an interactive discussion.
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Unfolding Intelligence: The Art and Science of Contemporary Computation // 4/1, 5pm - 4/9, 1pm EDT // Free
"Unfolding Intelligence: The Art and Science of Contemporary Computation" is third in a series of MIT CAST symposia that bring together artists, scientists, engineers, and humanists from a variety of disciplines to address topics of common concern in areas of rapidly evolving research and urgent social relevance. 
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Considering Art : Considering Plastic // 7pm - 8:30pm EDT // Free
Join our community on March 31st for a sensory delve into the world of artist Mika Rottenberg. This interactive and exploratory tour led by Mark aims to immerse participants into the highly textured, sensually active, and brightly colored world of plastic, capitalism, politics, and desire. Navigating a diverse portfolio of work and mediums, we aim to explore the consequences of our continual thirst for the 'new', the 'cheap', and the 'luxurious. We ask: How is luxury established? Who ultimately pays the price for our access to global 'free' markets and systems? When/where/can this ever end?
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TomorrowLove™ By: Rosamund Small // 6:30pm EDT // $5 - $10
Theatre UNB is excited to announce that the final production of our all-Canadian 2020-21 season will be the mind-blowing science fiction epic TomorrowLove by Toronto playwright Rosamund Small. TomorrowLove is a cycle of fifteen short plays about love, sex, technology, and the future. Each of the plays centres around a different amazing new technology that rewrites the basic rules of human interactions and has profound emotional, ethical, or moral ramifications for love and relationships. By turns comic, tragic, unsettling, and thought-provoking, the plays in TomorrowLove deal with topics as diverse as cloning; implantable technology; time travel; the intersection of pornography, online gaming, and virtual reality; and kitchen appliances that open portals to new dimensions.
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Re-Fest | Data-Confluences¹: Sculptural Iterations // 7pm - 9pm EDT // Free
Data-Confluences¹: Sculptural Iteration - 1: a coming or flowing together, meeting, or gathering at one point. Artists, designers, and anyone interested in generative design are invited to join this workshop facilitated by Clarissa Ribeiro. Exploring generative design strategies, we will use specific input values in a Grasshopper definition to have as an outcome algorithmic transduction from a confluence of data – extracted from shared 30 seconds video/audio captures from the places we inhabit – entangled information crystalized in 3D objects that remind us of the need of getting together.
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Probable Meets Possible: Leveling Up to Combat Climate Change // 5pm - 6pm EDT // Free
Scientists unravel the effects of climate change at two vastly different levels — from the activities of individual microbes to fluxes of gases in the atmosphere. They engage in conversations with individual community members and groups of global political leaders. Dr. Jennifer Powers and Dr. Heidi Roop will share the challenges and strengths of working across these scales. They’ll share insights into how these dual approaches might catalyze novel collaborations and progress in climate change work.
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Thursday, April 1


Future Designers // 8am - 9:30am EDT // Free
Join us for our final event - a series of short talks and forward-thinking design solutions from our future designers, compèred by Laura Giles of CLASH and Goodfest Cornwall co-founders, Thad Cox and Ben Akers. Hosted in collaboration with CLASH, the creative sector network aiming to address the climate emergency and support businesses in growing a circular economy.
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Technology with Empathy for Humanity | #AFutureByDesign Salon // 2am - 3am EDT // Free
Chris Solarski started work in video games at Sony Computer Entertainment’s London Studio as a character and environment artist before making a career-defining detour into figurative oil painting. The unusual mix of game art and classical art eventually resulted in Chris authoring the Interactive Empathy and Embodiment (IEE) framework—a sensory design methodology that adapts traditional craft to interactive media with the aim of heightening kinaesthetic empathy and embodiment. Chris has authored two other books on game art and storytelling in games that are endorsed by the likes of Assassin’s Creed founding member Stéphane Assadourian, and Cyberpunk 2077 level designer Max Pears.
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The Power of Objects, Art and Fetishism // 2pm - 5pm EDT // Free
Laura I. Art Gallery presents a collection of artworks by Degard which will take us into an immersive experience of discovery where artworks will be presented not only to re-evaluate our values—to elevate everyday objects but also, and more importantly, to let us sense the dimension out of which objects emerge, and to invest them with a magical quality that has the power of drawing us into their radiance and power. In Drip: Still Lifes, Degard captures some of the world’s most impactful brands, exploring the psychometry of high-end objects, brands and works of art. Degard visualises the auras or energy fields around people, objects and even places. In this series, she captures the auras of many of the world’s most enduring luxury brands including Gucci, Moschino, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Paco Rabanne and McDonald's! How do the Auras of brands and things in our lives help and hinder our mental health?
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Betwixt and Between: A Climate Change Conversation among Artists // 12pm - 1:30pm EDT // Free
“Between the idea and the reality,” as TS Eliot famously intoned, “between the motion and the act, falls the shadow.”  The human world these days seems palsied—stuck in shadow—between dawning recognition and requisite response: people are at last beginning to sense that something is desperately wrong and out of balance in the human relationship with the wider natural world and yet still not quite ready to take the sorts of action, at the required scale, that might truly address the crisis at hand and, in so doing, assure a humane future.  To the extent that this palsy is a crisis in vision, to what extent might artists (whose very métier is clear seeing) yet help to cast light, as it were, into the shadow gap, thus waking us all up to how we have been sleepwalking and thereby helping to mobilize us to urgently necessary action?
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Friday, April 2

Nothing to Report 👾
 

Saturday, April 3

Nothing to Report 👾
 

Sunday, April 4

Nothing to Report 👾
 

Monday, April 5

Beyond Representation: Political Possibilities of 21st Century Media // 1pm EDT // Free
Structural inequities that have long impacted marginalized communities are now at the forefront of our cultural conversation. Both audiences and creators have been pushed to rethink the voices and narratives that are represented on screen, and those that are silenced. On a more structural level, initiatives like Hollywood 4 Black Lives and the Academy Inclusion Initiative are finally forcing the industry to take a closer look at the systemic factors that marginalize BIPOC and LGBTQ creatives. In this changing cultural landscape, what is the role of storytelling and representation? How can film and television actualize much-needed change? In this conversation, we hope to go beyond slogans like “representation matters” and towards a more critical understanding of the connection between politics, media, and activism. 
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Upcoming Speculative Futures Meetups 


Beyond Speculative Design: Past - Present - Future // Speculative Futures Milan, Wednesay March 24th, 1pm - 3pm EDT // Free
After interviewing dozens of leading design practitioners, educators, and theorists from across Europe (and in a few cases beyond), as well as soliciting survey responses from dozens of professionals currently working in the industry, in addition to the hosted education related activities, we are able to draw a clearer path to show where Speculative Design has come from, where the approach is at present, and where it might be headed in the future.
All our findings and beyond are archived in a book, Beyond Speculations. Join the event and witness the “walk through the book” - a snapshot of contemporary Speculative Design, past - present - future.
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Imagining Feminist Futures with Foresight and Speculative Design [Digital Panel] // Speculative Futures Berlin // Tuesday, March 23rd,  1:30pm - 3pm EDT // Free
Meet us in the feminist future!
Narratives and discourse on the future of society and the planet shape the world's stage itself. In this event we want to add to the cultural conversation about the future from a feminist point of view:
Alu and Franziska will present the platform zukunftsforscherin.de and talk about questions of representation in futures studies, the role of women* and the importance of feminist futures.
Next, Marie Louise will present her speculative design “AYA” – a voice assistant pushing back on sexual harassment. She will use this example to discuss the challenges of gendered algorithmic systems and opportunities of imagining feminist futures of AI. As voice-enabled, AI-powered systems are entering our most intimate spaces, what unintended consequences might they bring? Can we imagine these systems becoming feminist?
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Happy Little Futures: word of the year // Speculative Futures Frankfurt, Wednesday March 31, 2pm - 3:15pm ET // Free
In 2020, "Corona pandemic" was the word of the year, "Corona dictatorship" was the bad word of the year and "Lockdown" was the Anglicism of the year. In most years it is not quite as mono-thematic. In 2017, for example, the  Jamaica-Aus, Alternative Facts and Influencers won the respective titles.
Some words stay (e.g. "multimedia", word of the year 1995), others are quickly forgotten (who knows without googling what the "light limit" was, which became the word of the year in 2014?) But they all stand for a topic that played a special role that year.
What will the word of the year 2032 be, and above all - why? Of course this cannot be predicted, one could only speculate wildly - and that is exactly what we want to do,
We (Vitalia and Michael) bring a few special words from the future and want to know from you what could have happened in the respective year that let these words shape the discourse.
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Book Club! :: Speculative Everything by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby // Speculative Futures Indianapolis // Wednesday, March 31st, 6:30pm - 8pm EDT // Free

"Speculative Everything" by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby. Which by all accounts is a quintessential piece of speculative literature. If you haven't purchased the book, no worries - there is a version of the book online (link here). 
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Speculative Characters for Visual Inflection: Mia Cinelli // Speculative Futures Louisville // Thursday, April 1st, 5:30pm - 7pm EDT // Free
How could a new quotation mark convey annoyance or worry? How might a heavy sigh, skeptical eyebrow, or elated shudder exist as a new letterform?
In the age of emojis, type and image work in tandem to bolster our typographic voices, conveying our wide range of emotions. What if new punctuation could formally articulate the meaning of a message as conveyed through gesture and expression? Engaging with design as a medium for inquiry, Cinelli proposes a new set of characters to supplement our existing typefaces, attempting to make the rich complexities of verbal and nonverbal conversation visible.
Mia Cinelli is an Assistant Professor of Art Studio and Digital Design at the University of Kentucky. Her design practice encompasses an eclectic span of poetic and pragmatic products, installations, and graphics which have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Recently, her typographic works have been acknowledged with Best in Festival for New Work at DesignTO (2020), a Graphis Silver award for typeface design (2018), a Society of Typographic Arts “STA 100” award (2019), and a Communication Arts Typography award (2020). With an inquiry-driven practice, she is passionate about—and continually excited by— the possibilities of visual communication and human-centered design.
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Speculative News & Resources 📰

News, resources, and musings about emerging technology, speculative practice, and futures design and related topics.

Platforms vs. PhDs: How tech giants court and crush the people who study them // Protocol
Tech companies are simultaneously cracking down on academics whose methods break their rules. As topics like online disinformation, ad targeting and algorithmic bias have emerged as core fields of study, researchers have relied on APIs and social analytics tools, dummy accounts and scraped data to figure out, say, whether online housing ads are discriminating against Black people or whether fake news gets more engagement than real news online. Often, those methods violate companies' carefully crafted terms of service forbidding data scraping, data sharing and fake accounts, among other things. And so, to protect their users' privacy — and their own reputations — tech giants have at times used those terms of service as a cudgel to shut down even well-meaning research projects...
Read More

The debate about cryptocurrency and energy consumption // TechCrunch
Energy consumption has become the latest flashpoint for cryptocurrency. Critics decry it as an energy hog while proponents hail it for being less intensive than the current global economy. One such critic, DigiEconomist founder Alex de Vries, said he’s “never seen anything that is as inefficient as bitcoin.” On the other side of the debate, research by ARK Investment Management found the Bitcoin ecosystem consumes less than 10% of the energy required for the traditional banking system. While it’s true the banking system serves far more people, cryptocurrency is still maturing and, like any industry, the early infrastructure stage is particularly intensive...
Read More

Tech + Storytelling Event: "BLM, Immersive Film & Activism" Panel [Video]
On March 10, 2021, NYC Media Lab brought together creators, technologists, and filmmakers to share their cutting-edge work in immersive storytelling during our virtual event, "Technology + Storytelling: Engaging the Immersive Future." Watch the panel here.
Watch Now

This AI Uses Your Brain Activity to Create Fake Face // SingularityHub
A new AI could throw a wrench in the already-overwhelming world of dating apps. Developed by a team from the University of Helsinki and Copenhagen University, the artificially intelligent system was able to generate images of fake faces that it knew particular users would find attractive—because those same users’ brain activity played a part in training the AI. It sounds creepy, futuristic, and like the ultimate catfishing opportunity, right? Here’s how it works...
Read More

Are Tech Companies Squandering 'the Good of All' for Extractive Behaviors? // Slashdot
The extractive behavior the tech giants exhibit has been the norm for modern capitalism since Milton Friedman set its objective function in 1970: "The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits"... It's a sad time for Silicon Valley, because we are seeing not only the death of its youthful idealism but a missed opportunity. Paul Cohen, the former DARPA program manager for AI, made a powerful statement a few years ago at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences that we both attended: "The opportunity of AI is to help humans model and manage complex interacting systems." That statement sums up so much of the potential that is squandered when firms like Google, Amazon, and Facebook fall prey to the Friedman doctrine rather than setting more ambitious goals for their algorithms...
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Wikipedia Is Finally Asking Big Tech to Pay Up // Wired
From the start, Google and Wikipedia have been in a kind of unspoken partnership: Wikipedia produces the information Google serves up in response to user queries, and Google builds up Wikipedia’s reputation as a source of trustworthy information. Of course, there have been bumps, including Google’s bold attempt to replace Wikipedia with its own version of user-generated articles, under the clumsy name “Knol,” short for knowledge. Knol never did catch on, despite Google’s offer to pay the principal author of an article a share of advertising money. But after that failure, Google embraced Wikipedia even tighter—not only linking to its articles but reprinting key excerpts on its search result pages to quickly deliver Wikipedia’s knowledge to those seeking answers...
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Inside Facebook Reality Labs: The Next Era of Human-Computer Interaction // Tech@Facebook
Imagine a world where a lightweight, stylish pair of glasses could replace your need for a computer or smartphone. You’d have the ability to feel physically present with friends and family — no matter where in the world they happened to be — and contextually-aware AI to help you navigate the world around you, as well as rich 3D virtual information within arm’s reach. Best of all, they’d let you look up and stay present in the world around you rather than pulling your attention away to the periphery in the palm of your hand. This is a device that wouldn’t force you to choose between the real world and the digital world...
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Self-Driving Trucks Will Create a Megaregion Economic Boom // NextBigFuture
Urban areas are richer and more productive. Research shows that doubling the population and increasing urban density boosts productivity by about 15%. Roman cities were connected by the distance someone could walk in one hour. Self-driving cars, trucks and buses will be able to eliminate traffic jams and then have steadily increasing safe operating speeds. The German Autobon has safe operation with people allowed to drive at any speed they feel is safe. This ends up grouping drivers into 80 mph, 100 mph and 120 mph groups. Self-driving vehicles and having some dedicated roads and highways would enable rapid deployment of fast inter-region logistics. This would be deployed far faster than the decades China has used for high-speed rail connections between and in large cities...
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New York lawmaker wants to ban police use of armed robots // ArsTechnica
New York City councilmember Ben Kallos says he "watched in horror" last month when city police responded to a hostage situation in the Bronx using Boston Dynamics' Digidog, a remotely operated robotic dog equipped with surveillance cameras. Pictures of the Digidog went viral on Twitter, in part due to their uncanny resemblance with world-ending machines in the Netflix sci-fi series Black Mirror. Now Kallos is proposing what may be the nation's first law banning police from owning or operating robots armed with weapons.
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EFF's Jillian York on the consequences of Section 230 reform // NYC Media Lab [Video]
When Twitter made the decision to de-platform Trump, it was, according to Twitter, to mitigate "the risk of further incitement of violence." Since then, a wide range of tech companies and platforms have restricted or removed speakers they've deemed dangerous. The practice of de-platforming is praised by some and criticized by others, but many agree that the power and responsibility of Big Tech has led to a slippery slope. Where's the line between private platforms and government responsibility? Who do we want to determine what speech should be deemed as dangerous? What are the appropriate remedies for publishing such speech? These may be the most important questions of our time...
Watch Now

The Golden Ratio, a supposed Greek invention, may have African roots // FastCompany
Design remains a largely white profession, with Black people still vastly underrepresented—making up just 3% of the design industry, according to a 2019 survey. Part of the lack of representation might have had to do with the fact that prevailing tenets of design seemed to hew closely to Western traditions, with purported origins in Ancient Greece and the schools out of Germany, Russia, and the Netherlands deemed paragons of the field. A “Black aesthetic” has seemed to be altogether absent. But what if a uniquely African aesthetic has been deeply embedded in Western design all along?
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A Futures Magic Wand // Hinesight Blog
If you had a magic wand that could successfully challenge one current widespread assumption about the future, what would you “fix?” I was thinking about some of the key assumptions that I was challenging for After Capitalism, and as I thought about mine, I wondered what others might choose. No need to stick to “after capitalism,” but I would appreciate your insights if you do! I would use my assumption fixing wand on this one: Humanity as separate from nature...
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Scientists plan to drop the 14-day embryo rule, a key limit on stem cell research // MIT Tech Review
There is an internationally recognized ethical limit called the “14-day rule.” Under this limit, scientists have agreed never to allow human embryos to develop beyond two weeks in their labs. That is the point at which a spherical embryo starts to form a body plan, deciding where its head will end up, and when cells begin taking on specialized missions. Now, a key scientific body is ready to do away with the 14-day limit. The action would come at a time when scientists are making remarkable progress in growing embryonic cells and watching them develop. Researchers, for example, can now coax a few individual stem cells to grow into embryo-like structures, and some hope to follow these synthetic embryo models well past the old two-week line...
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China's new obsession: 'Private traffic' // Protocol
"Private domain traffic," or siyu liuliang (私域流量), is a term that's enamored Chinese tech CEOs over the past two years as the country's internet growth approaches a natural limit. With overall internet penetration at 70%, upstarts and tech giants alike are increasingly focused on turning casual users into dedicated ones; that is, capturing "public traffic" and turning it into "private traffic." Private traffic can come from users dedicated to a company's app, or from followers of an influencer's personal livestreaming channels. A U.S. equivalent might be newsletter subscribers...
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Deep Learning Enables Real-Time 3D Holograms On a Smartphone // IEEE Spectrum
Using artificial intelligence, scientists can now rapidly generate photorealistic color 3D holograms even on a smartphone. And according to a new study, this new technology could find use in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets and other applications. A hologram is an image that essentially resembles a 2D window looking onto a 3D scene. The pixels of each hologram scatter light waves falling onto them, making these waves interact with each other in ways that generate an illusion of depth...
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The World’s First Space Hotel to Open in 2027 // ArchitecturalDigest
Those of us making grand postpandemic travel plans might want to consider the final frontier as a destination. That's because Orbital Assembly Corporation, a new construction company run by former pilot John Blincow, is planning to open a luxury space hotel by 2027. Voyager Station, as it's being called, would accommodate 280 guests and 112 crew members while aiming to be the first commercial space hotel, upon completion...
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A World With Most in a Work Optional State // NextBigFuture
People who reach a comfortable retirement have savings, assets and investments that enable them to pay for their spending without being required to work. Financial institutions and governments have described this as an achievable and desirable state for most of the middle class. It was generally argued that it was a crisis that people would become elderly and still need to work to pay for their expenses...
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This Atari 3D Sneaker NFT Auction Is Using Snapchat to Let You Try Before You Buy on the Blockchain // Next Reality
When you're talking about collectibles, in 2021 it's heresy not to include the world of sneakerheads. Nowadays, a single, limited batch of newly designed sneakers from Nike can quickly sell out and then go on to be resold for many thousands more than they were purchased for at launch. Predictably, the sneakerhead world is now converging with the hot new world of NFT (non-fungible tokens) auctions. One of the most recent and prominent auctions comes in the form of a concept Atari sneaker that looks like something out of a retro science fiction film...
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Why Capitalism as we know it is unfit for the Future // Gerd Leonhard Blog
2019 was a year of great prosperity and innovation, with stock markets booming, democracy largely thriving (well, apart from what went down in Trump's USA), and unemployment at near-record lows throughout much of the developed world. But then, Covid-19 struck and changed everything as half the world went into lock-down, economies and supply-chains ground to a halt, unemployment skyrocketed, and the world suffered its greatest health/humanitarian crisis since World War II. All of a sudden, the future looks bleak...
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All designers are futurists: Why Bruce Mau still believes design can change the world // FastCompany
Over a career spanning decades, Bruce Mau has developed a radical vision of what design can do. A documentary premiering at SXSW today, Mau, shows us how his vision manifests: with design that breaks boundaries on a massive scale. The documentary, filmed over about three years and directed by Benji and Jono Bergmann, offers a retrospective of Mau’s life and career so far. It uses some of the designer’s biggest projects to showcase his wide-reaching, fundamentally optimistic view of design as a global change agent...
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The True Cost of Bitcoin and NFTs // OneZero
The price of one bitcoin, as I write this, is $57,383 — more than 10 times what it cost just a year ago. That price is volatile, so it will be different by the time you read this. But rest assured it will remain expensive.
There’s another toll, though, for every bitcoin created: the toll it takes on the environment. It’s one that is not paid in full by either the miner or the buyer. As bitcoin reaches new heights, fueled by advocates such as Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey, it’s a cost that’s becoming impossible to ignore...
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Fun Stuff 🚀

Cool projects, articles, games, books, and other nerdy speculative things that I've discovered recently.

Open Calls/Submissions & Cool Projects

Open Calls & Submissions

Museums Without Walls // Deadline 3/29
Museums Without Walls is seeking proposals for its virtual reality residency program. Residencies will take place through April and May in different versions of the Espírito Santo Art Museum – MAES hosted in the Mozilla Hubs plataform. Four participants will be selected to occupy and recreate this environment based on their artistic and/or curatorial visions. The selected proposals will receive specialized mentorship and a development fee of CAD $ 600. The residency outcomes will be presented in the Museum Without Walls program in late May.
Learn More & Apply

Feminist Future(s) Hackathon // Deadline 3/26
Good question! This project is brought to you by members of the “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck!” collaborative. We love producing hackathons that help us imagine and prototype more just and equitable worlds. It’s also part of a research project at MIT about changing the culture of technology innovation spaces. The hackathon will have four tracks: Reproductive Justice, the Care Economy, Prison Abolition, and Environmental Justice. Each track will be produced in partnership with a community organization who will help shape design challenges for participants. When you apply, you will select a track to join.
Learn More & Apply

Call for Papers: Portals to Black Futures in Education // Deadline for Proposals April 10th
In this proposed issue of the Journal of Future Studies, contributors engage the question, “What are the futures of Black education?” through a series of forecasts and essays from the perspectives of philosophers, artists, designers, futurists, and education researchers. In many ways the intersection of the spread of COVID-19 and the trilogy of murders (Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor) spurring a new anti-racism movement are exposing histories and futures that multiply – marginalized people were already living with and that many white cis-gender people were surprised to learn. Therefore, the fissures have exposed how the lack of access to high quality teaching and learning have rendered many Black children dispossessed of desirable futures.
Learn More & Apply


Cool Projects

A music video you can play: Indie rock inside the Unity engine // ArsTechnica
"Greatness Waitress" is the lead single for Waitsgiving, the upcoming seventh album by Fishboy. This long-running pop-rock group out of Denton, Texas, compares favorably to the likes of They Might Be Giants, Weezer, and Ben Folds. It's the band's first 3D-rendered music video, but in fitting indie-rock fashion, this isn't the result of a Pixar-caliber computer farm rendering each frame to immaculate, ray-traced levels. The video "Greatness Waitress" was instead built using the immediate-rendering flexibility of the Unity 3D game engine, and its limited geometry means it'll run on most any gaming-capable PC. To prove this, the band decided to keep the indie spirit alive by launching its video as an interactive executable; you can even "play" it within a web browser. This build removes the YouTube version's intentional cinematography, instead allowing viewers to WASD their way around the environment.
Learn More
 

Gaming, Shows, Books & Other Random Cool Stuff

The year we spent in Animal Crossing: New Horizons // Polygon
 Crossing: New Horizons came out a year ago, and since then it’s felt like a bright spot in a very bad year marked by a pandemic, protests against systemic racism and police brutality, and a world that felt like it was on fire. (And sometimes, literally, it was.) The life simulation game, released by Nintendo for Switch just as the pandemic became a pandemic, is inextricably linked to the events of the year in which it came out. That’s reflected in the ways players and communities used New Horizons to connect, grieve, protest, and celebrate together...
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Liquid Sky, More Electroclash Than Cyberpunk // Adafruit Blog
There a number of novels, films, comics, and other media that always seem to get caught in the tractor beam of the cyberpunk label. For some, even if they don’t check off enough boxes to be considered legitimate expressions of the cyberpunk mode (high-tech/low life, physical vs. virtual, corporate dystopia), they are just too pregnant with the styles and associations of the genre to be ignored. They are stubbornly cyberpunk adjacent. One such victim/beneficiary of the c-punk label is the rather disturbing 1982 art house film, Liquid Sky. The film, directed by Slava Tsukerman and starring Anne Carlisle (in both a female and male role) and Paula E. Sheppard, concerns a tiny alien spaceship that lands on the roof of a New York apartment building. The aliens live off of the highs of heroin junkies(?) and there are plenty of those in NYC to feed on. But, they soon learn they have an even greater appetite for a different high, the sensations they vampirically feed off of from human orgasms. If they dine on your orgasm, you die. The film is gritty, disturbing, and full of violence and suffocating nihilism.
Learn More
 

What I'm Reading

Here is a quick snapshot of my favorite books, podcasts, and articles this week.

Parable of the Talents (Earthseed #2)
Octavia Butler

The Sword of Summer
Rick Riordan

NFTs? No Fucking Thank You
Nathan Grayson

Thanks for Subscribing

Thanks for reading! Hope you have enjoyed this dose of speculative design, fiction, art, and technology!

If you aren't yet a regular, please subscribe here!

You can also learn more about my work at danamartens.tech.

 


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Join the NYC Speculative Futures meetup, a group for those interested in Critical Design, Speculative Design, Design Fiction, Discursive Design, Futurism, Science Fiction or any other incarnation of the approach which involves using Design to speculate about alternate futures. We'll be hosting speakers, workshops, and more!
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