SciFly // 169 // Remote Speculations Week 84/85

Speculative Events, News & Resources | Sent 11/1

Hey Scifly Readers!

This week, I want to feature a couple of really cool upcoming events that sound super fun.

Also, I have to show off some of the amazing prototypes that came out of our Futures x Design Fall workshop last week. As always, I was so inspired by all of the things people come up with, and in such a short period of time!

Finally, I'm excited to share that the "Metaverse & Storytelling" panel I recently moderated as part of NYC Media Lab's Future Imperfect Summit is now up online! Video linked below!

Austin Design Week

November 8th - 12th

While putting together SciFly this week, I noticed that Austin Design week's theme this year is Futuring. This week of events, happening 11/8 - 11/12 has a TON of futures oriented events, so I wanted to pull out some of the coolest sounding below virtual events below for you to explore.

For the full schedule, check out their website.

Monday, November 8th

Uncertain Futures: Using Strategic Foresight to Guide Transformation: 10am - 11am ET
Nobody can predict the future, but we can generate possible futures through strategic foresight. Learn about foresight methods and how it's used in relation to service design!
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Intelligent Infrastructure of the Future: 11:30am - 1pm ET
The 21st-century Infrastructure supporting Industry 4.0 requires the bridging of the physical world with the digital world.
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Discovering Physical-Digital Spaces: 3pm - 4pm ET 
Emerging technologies like AR and IoT include not just spatial awareness, but spatial understanding. Learn how designing for spatial technologies demands different discovery approaches from screen-based design.
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Designing the Future of Online Marketplaces without Discrimination: 4:30pm - 5:30pm ET
As more online marketplaces are built, we need to design ways to prevent discrimination on these digital platforms. How can we create experiences that encourage unbiased participation and fair transactions?
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Austin Design Week Opening Night Livestream: 7:30pm - 8:30pm ET
Austin Design Week and the School of Design & Creative Technologies together invite the Austin design community to celebrate futuring. Come immerse yourself in a projection and lighting experience, hear from Austin's premiere futurist, and social reception with bar provided.
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Tuesday, November 9th

Un/making White Austin: Black Futurism for a Jim Crow City: 10am - 11:30am ET
How has Austin been designed, planned and enforced as a White, settler colonial and anti-Black space? How can designers contribute to creating an Austin that isn’t just anti-racist, but pro-Black?
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Art Island Does ADW: 1pm - 3pm ET
This ain't no zoom room- it's a choose-your-own-adventure virtual studio tour created by a local art collective! Wander around Art Island ATX's digital world to uncover secret worlds of art, music, and conversation.
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Embracing Diversity: Psychological Safety and DEI to Enable Futuring: 5:30pm - 6:30pm ET
One thing is certain, we're all different; thus today’s organizations must learn to embrace diversity. By identifying our assumptions, we can create psychologically safe spaces for people to be effective.
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Hear the Future: Co-Creating the Next Generation of Accessible Design: 7pm - 8pm ET
Let’s explore the future of accessible design through the lens of deafness and hearing loss. We’ll discuss a holistic approach and how to co-create with community advocates and living experts.
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Wednesday, November 10th

Imagining What's Next for Design Education: 9:30am - 10:30am ET
Join us for a panel discussion exploring the current state of design education and what some leading practitioners are envisioning for the future.
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How We Can Use Stories & Objects to Imagine the Future: 1pm - 2:30pm ET
In this brief workshop, you will be introduced to several alternative speculative design methods that connect aspects of storytelling and scifi-prototyping to help you imagine new desired futures.
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Systems Leverage Mapping Workshop: A Systemic Design Approach to Envisioning Better Futures of Health: 4pm - 5:30pm ET
Join a workshop with the Design Institute for Health to explore applying systems design methodologies to increase the leverage of your concepts and design interventions for systems change in health.
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Achieving Equity in Tech: A Practical Guide to Systemic Change: 6pm - 7pm ET
Systemic problems require systemic solutions and systemic solutions require collective effort. Regardless of our seniority, industry, strengths, and identity, there are methods of making this world more inclusive.
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Futuring Your Design Career: How to Craft Your Path in the Design Industry: 7:30pm - 8:30pm ET
The last year inspired many designers to reassess their careers. Do I still love what I do? This panel will help you define your path and future your design career.
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Thursday, November 11th

Durable Design: Leveraging Foresight for Multiple Scenarios: 1pm - 2:30pm ET 
How can you leverage foresight & design to improve social issues (eg. diversity, inclusion), commercial offerings (eg. products, experiences) or systems? Join us for an engaging presentation and hands-on workshop.
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Foresight Can Be 20/20: How to Get Alignment with Tough Stakeholders: 3pm - 4pm ET
Stakeholders can derail a project, but if we work with them early, we can get alignment and buy-in and keep projects on track.
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Designing Change through Creative Empowerment: 6:30PM - 7:30PM ET
Participate in a guided discussion exploring how creativity facilitates change and how to support ourselves and each other in embracing more creative lives.
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Friday, November 12th

Everything I know About Brand Identity I Learned in the 1980s: 10:30am - 11:30am ET
Growing up in the 1980s I didn't think twice about the design and branding around me. Years later, I understand how influential it all was.
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Design Makes Futures: 2pm - 3pm ET 
What is the relationship between futures literacy and the design of services and systemic interventions? Adam will speak about how he coheres Design + Systems + Futures through the lens of Strategic Design.
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Climate Con 2021

November 9th - 11th

One of my futures friends turned me on to this awesome upcoming conference, all happening virtually!

Climate Con is an online gathering for regular people to discuss what the heck we’re going to do about climate change. 

There’s something for everyone and anyone who wants to know more about the roles they can play—from entrepreneurs to designers, parents to employees, citizens to educators, storytellers, and even your mom.

During three doom-free days, hear the stories of others who have already charted their climate journeys. They’ll retrace their steps and share exactly how they took each one. 

We’ll learn how change happens, discuss the roles we can play, and explore the worlds we can create if we actually do something. 

Come for the ideas, accountability, and camaraderie. Bring a friend, your dad, a colleague. The more who care, the merrier.

Learn more on their website!

Futures x Design Fall Session

We hosted another awesome session of Futures x Design last week on October 22nd & 23rd. Though we had a small cohort this time around, we had some big ideas and awesome prototypes.

Check out some of the highlights below, and you can see the fully gallery on our website.

We also announced all of the Futures x Design 2022 dates, each timed for different timezones around the world.

You can register for any of them now on our website, and exciting news, we will be offering even better scholarships next year for those in need of financial assistance.

The Metaverse & Storytelling Panel

I was fortunate to have an opportunity to moderate this awesome panel in early October as part of NYC Media Lab's Future Imperfect Summit.

Panel Overview
As new platforms offer uniquely holistic worlds of virtual existence, a panel of experts will discuss virtual life, the economy of the Metaverse, and, ultimately, its impact on the self. Is the Metaverse today’s Ready Player One? What happens when our virtual and analogue lives blend beyond distinction? Will avatars, digital currencies, and machine-generated content take over the media landscape? This panel dives deep into the ever-evolving world of new media, human interaction, and creative storytelling.
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!


"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, November 2nd - Monday, November 8th


Tuesday, November 2

DT Cloud Salon // 7pm EDT // Free
This Cloud Salon is co-hosted with Decoding Stigma. Sex worker artists Sybil Fury, Cléo Ouyuang, and Empress Wu of Veil Machine explore the overlap between artwork and sex work—both of which, at their core, work through the interplay between fantasy and reality, intimacy and lies. Join us to discuss how they explore these dynamics through an intimate, relational approach spanning software, Zoom performance, chat rooms, theater, and zines. This talk will begin with a 20-minute presentation by Veil Machine, followed by a 40-minute conversation with participants, moderated by Decoding Stigma.
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Voices: Tempestt Hazel // 4pm - 5:30pm EDT // Free

To Keep, To Care, To Leave Behind. A discussion on self and community archiving, self-preservation, and taking time in the present moment to consider the legacies we leave behind. Tempestt Hazel is a curator, writer, and co-founder of Sixty Inches From Center, a Chicago-based arts publication and archiving initiative that has promoted and preserved the practices of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists, and artists with disabilities across the Midwest since 2010. Through her work at Sixty, Field Foundation, and other organizations, Tempestt has worked alongside artists, organizers, grantmakers, and cultural workers to explore solidarity economies, cooperative models, and values-based practices that are embedded at all levels of an organization.
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Wednesday, November 3

The borders of astrobiology: (un)disciplined futures: Situating astrobiology: abductive reasoning, speculative thinking, planetary futures.// 5am - 6:30am EDT // Free
Join us for as we stage an interdisciplinary conversation looking at astrobiology as a field that opens ethical questions about cosmic entanglements and environmental futures. It asks: what happens to astrobiology, or if one starts from astrobiology, when justice and ethics enlighten possible modes of relating to environments on and off Earth? Think of astrobiology as a pebble or a stone. Think of anthropology also as a pebble or a stone of a different shape but similar mass. Now, gently drop those two stones into a pond simultaneously and you should in all likelihood observe two overlapping concentric circles. A diffraction pattern. In this short intervention I wish to drop three stones –astrobiology, anthropology, and science fiction– into a pond, to relate their knowledge-making processes as a diffractive pattern of ongoing differences. 
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Colorful Game-Building with Film Noir and the Universe // 11/3, 3pm - 11/16, 4pm EST // Donation
With the growth of accessible game-building software comes an expansive game market. So it's no surprise that Genesis Noir, a smokey, film noir-style game in gray tones and gold, would be ushered onto Steam with gorgeous and jazzy fanfare. But why stop there when you could set gameplay against the backdrop of the Big Bang? In this talk, Genesis Noir creators, Evan Anthony and Jeremy Abel from Feral Cat Den, will discuss how they used their non-traditional backgrounds to build games before diving into the history and inspirations of Genesis Noir. They’ll also explore the larger story, theme, and gameplay. 
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Caroline Sinders: In Defense of Useful Art // 2pm - 4pm EDT // Free
Can artwork be useful, can it be productive, and can it be a work of activism? Sinders’ artistic output can take the shape of a white paper, a civil society action, a design to solve a solution, a social justice workshop, an article, or an artwork artifact. However, she considers all of these outputs to be a form of artistic practice and research practice. For the past few years, Sinders has been looking at the impacts of artificial intelligence in society. Some of this work has taken the shape of lectures and workshops on data, surveillance, and AI, numerous articles on the harms of AI, the Feminist Data Set arts research project, and a new project recognizing human labor behind artificial intelligence systems. Her current project named TRK or Technically Responsible Knowledge is an open source project that examines wage inequality and creates open source alternatives to data labeling and training in AI.
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Impact Conference: Music. Equity. Tech // 11/3, 10am - 11/5, 3pm EDT // Free
The IMPACT Conference will spearhead our commitment to transformative thinking, equitable design, and inclusion within tech, music, and entertainment spaces. SCAD students and alumni join forces with external community and industry partners to initiate an open dialogue centered around creative design and equitable inclusion. Interact with and hear from multiple top-tier organizations beyond the classroom through sponsored breakout sessions, keynote industry panels and conversations, targeted portfolio reviews, & a collaborative design challenge.
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Thursday, November 4

Ari Melenciano : Speculating Futures through Omni-specialized Design // 8pm - 9:30pm EDT // Free
Ari Melenciano is a designer, creative technologist, and researcher who is passionate about exploring the relationships between various forms of design and sentient experiences. She is a creative technologist at Google's Creative Lab, professor at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Graduate Program, and founder of Afrotectopia, a social institution that is imagining, researching, and building at the nexus of new media art, design, science, and technology through a Black and Afrocentric lens. Her award-winning work has been supported and exhibited by a variety of institutions including Sundance, The New Museum's New Inc, The New York Times, and The Studio Museum of Harlem. She is often guest lecturing at universities around the world. She is based in Brooklyn, NY.
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Elsa Sjunneson, author of "Being Seen" in conversation with Annalee Newitz // 9pm EDT // $0 - $27.50
As a Deafblind woman with partial vision in one eye and bilateral hearing aids, Elsa Sjunneson lives at the crossroads of blindness and sight, hearing and deafness—much to the confusion of the world around her. While she cannot see well enough to operate without a guide dog or cane, she can see enough to know when someone is reacting to the visible signs of her blindness and can hear when they’re whispering behind her back. And she certainly knows how wrong our one-size-fits-all definitions of disability can be. As a media studies professor, she’s also seen the full range of blind and deaf portrayals on film, and here she deconstructs their impact, following common tropes through horror, romance, and everything in between. Part memoir, part cultural criticism, part history of the Deafblind experience, Being Seen explores how our cultural concept of disability is more myth than fact, and the damage it does to us all.
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Artists in Conversation: Tech/Know/Future/ From Slang to Structure // 6pm - 7pm EDT // Free
Tech/Know/Future/ From Slang to Structure is a critical response to technological systems within art addressing the issues of identity, history and abstraction, placing the viewer at the intersection of the past, present and future. Eleven diverse cross-disciplinary artists will use their creative practices to establish new relationships among technology, knowledge and time through augmented reality, artificial intelligence, sound, video, textiles and works on paper. The exhibition is curated by Tom Leeser, Director of the Art and Technology Program and the Center for Integrated Media at CalArts, who brings together a group of innovative artists including: Morehshin Allahyari, Salome Asega, Nancy Baker Cahill, Stephanie Dinkins, Carla Gannis, Taehee Kim, LoVid, Amelia Marzec, Olivia Mole, Sondra Perry, and Casey Reas.
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4th Renewable Futures Conference // 11/4 5am - 11/6, 11am EDT // Free
The interdisciplinary artistic research project FeLT (Futures of Living Technologies) hosts the conference in conjunction with the Creative Europe project GREEN (Green Revisited: Encountering Emerging Naturecultures). The Renewable Futures Futures of Living Technology Conference will feature presentations of artistic and transdisciplinary research projects, as well as examples and discussions of applied projects and entries. The program focuses on four themes: Ecologies beyond Green: reconfiguring complex relationships to the environment, Making with: multispecies communication and co-creation, Living technologies: living environments, humans, machines, intelligence, life and emotions, Sensorium: how we experience, interpret and develop applied aesthetics today.
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Digital Days - Food of the future: high-tech or low-tech? // 3pm - 4pm EDT // Free
What do you think food will look like in the future? Whether it's a return to old practices or the development of new technologies, this online conference takes you into two completely different worlds.
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Points, Lines and Systems // 11/4, 2pm - 12/2, 3pm EST // €187.64 – €321.32
How can complex systems be created from simple rules? What unexpected emergent behaviour comes about when multiple rules overlap and interact with each other? In this class we take a hands-on approach to answering these questions, through creating generative art with code, under a simple constraint: our programs will be limited to drawing using only points and lines. Working within such a strict economy of means in the context of today’s technological pursuits of computer generated photo-realism becomes a subversive act, as it leads to questioning how much is actually needed in order to convey meaning. At the same time, it helps us demystify the inner workings of the various graphical interfaces we use daily. This limited set of building blocks will also allow for our focus to quickly shift from learning how to use the tools at hand towards developing our visual and systems thinking. The course meets once a week for five weeks, and each session will be split up between introducing new technical topics, engaging with the history of generative art, sharing work and discussing short readings. Outside of class, we are following a daily practice schedule: for the duration of the course, students are encouraged to spend 30-60 minutes daily working towards one finished sketch, with the tools and knowledge available thus far. By the end of our time together, everyone will have created a collection of about 30 visual (or not) pieces. The class focuses exclusively on developing still, poster-like compositions, but students are encouraged to explore motion in their daily sketches as well, if they desire to. (5 week course, Thursdays)
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Friday, November 5

What is Real? Physical, Digital or Virtual? XR Storytelling // 7:30pm EDT // Free
During the residency, Ms. Cohen and her collaborators set out to provide the tech support for a live virtual event with members of a native indigenous community and from a community of neurodivergent individuals. The hope is to explore what this expresses about their individual and collective identities and how this platform can help bridge the two. Kathleen Cohen is a digital and immersive experience artist focusing on extended reality (XR) and spatial computing projects, as it relates to future storytelling narratives and environments. Her background includes working as a creative artist and producer for DreamWorks Interactive, IBM Innovation, Disney Parks & Resorts, as well as being the Vice President of Digital Innovation for the National Constitution Center, helping to tell the contemporary story of our nation's U.S. Constitution.
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Transgender Storytelling // 5pm EDT // Free
Join us for an interactive inclusion workshop hosted by Scott Turner Schofield (Founder of Speaking of Transgender) with additional support from GLAAD. This presentation focuses on understanding what it means to be transgender and the past, present, and future of trans media representation. Starting with an overview of what it means to be transgender and non-binary, along with need-to-know terminology, the presentation will then examine stereotypes about trans people and the real world consequences of those. We will then discuss the history of transgender representation in film and television, the current state, and how to improve trans representation in the future, including best practices for casting authentically and including trans people behind the camera. We will conclude with how GLAAD can be a resource to content creators in telling authentic and accurate trans stories that truly reflect the world around us and accelerate acceptance through culture change.
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Saturday, November 6

Zine workshop: climate crisis and speculative fiction // 11am - 1pm EDT // Free
Join a zine workshop, where we work with extracts of speculative fiction by Octavia E Butler and Ursula K Le Guin, to create zines that explore the present climate crisis, the future, and what we can do about it. We'll use whatever we have to make the zines - a mix of writing, mark making, drawing, whatever we feel like - feel free to bring anything with you, including scraps of paper etc.
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AI: a future of Autobiography // 76er am - 8am EDT // Free
The School of Cyborg (SoC) is a project that Dundee Based Digital Art Festival NEoN proposes in a joint effort with students from MA Culture Criticism and Curation from the University of the Arts London.  How can an AI write a story? Can AI write OUR story? What happens when AI becomes a narrator? AI: a future of Autobiography’ is a workshop to fabulate around the possible sceneries to develop an AI that may be capable to tell our own story, or the story of another subject. With the help of HER: She Loves Data, an Italian AI Artistic Research Group, we will speculate on the possibilities of having a narrative AI, interacting with the Dundee territory. The workshop will be oriented towards inclusivity and accessibility, aligning with SoC’s aim to engage with local community groups. Throughout the workshop, we will take the time to review and discuss the works of HER. In line with NEoN's Wired Women * theme, we will focus on and highlight women's digital art *.
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Sunday, November 7

Conversation Garden with Shannon Mcrae, Author & Scholar (School of Cyborg) // 10am - 12pm EST // Free
The School of Cyborg (SoC) is a project that Dundee Based Digital Art Festival NEoN proposes in a joint effort with students from MA Culture Criticism and Curation from the University of the Arts London. Are we cyborg? How do we shape our online identities? Is our online identity political? The conversation with Shannon McRae will focus on the themes of online identity: from roleplay to catfishing, how our real-life shapes and is shaped online? With the help of the American scholar, we will delve into the short-circuits that happen when IRL and URL collide. We will be using the figure of the cyborg as a thread through which to develop a conversation around queer, feminism, social justice. The event will be oriented towards inclusivity and accessibility, aligning with SoC’s aim to engage with local community groups and address the digital gender divide.
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Monday, November 8

Design.Different // 11am - 12pm EST // Free
'Inclusive' is a term that has gained traction as organisations rush to reconsider what inclusion means. We talk about inclusivity in four primary ways, including people of all ages, abilities, genders and races. The first two represent a heartland for inclusive design. The second two speak to urgent and necessary conversations. Considering these four attributes is representative of the realities of the 7.6 billion people on the planet. Join us for the launch of our Design.Different series, where we will discuss a future where design can make a difference. We will showcase new projects, introduce emerging ideas and create a discussion. We will speak to a deep, global yearning to be more equitable, and inclusive. Come and help set the trajectory, and share your voices. They need to be heard.
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Re-Setting the Table: Gender, Clothing, and Cultural Policy // 7:30pm - 9pm EST // Free
Join Artistic Director Melissa Moschitto in a conversation with Dr. Lisa Merrill untangling the history of clothing, gender, race & cultural policy and the practice of policing non-gender conforming bodies in the 19th and 20th centuries. This will be a unique opportunity to go deeper into the lives of the historical figures portrayed in No Pants In Tucson, while highlighting the progress that still needs to be made to achieve true gender equality today.
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An Artistic Toolkit for the Apocalypse // 11/8, 12pm - 12/6, 2pm EST // €187.64 – €321.32
Heatwaves and forest fires, elevated sea levels, rising CO2 emissions, massive drop in insect populations. Distrust in democracy, civil unrests, super intelligence gone rogue, pandemic. But also asteroids hitting the Earth, nuclear bomb, antibiotic resistance, cyberwar, uncontrollable financial crisis. And all the unknown unknowns. For most of us, these disasters used to be confined to science-fiction, video games and Hollywood blockbusters. Not anymore. Every morning, news headlines seem to suggest that reality has imploded and that the end of the world is about to land on our own backyard. How will the human race get through escalating global catastrophes? As the past few years have painfully shown, we can't prevent a catastrophe, but maybe we can build a world far more resilient to it. Doing so requires imagination and a bit of faith. Faith in solidarity between humans or faith in technology. Sometimes both. The class will be looking at doomsday scenarios through the prism of science, technology and art. Each week, we will discuss the works of artists, designers and other creative minds who navigate apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic narratives or who simply acquaint themselves with surviving skills. (5 week class, Mondays)
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VR Truthtelling: How Virtual Reality Deepens Our Storytelling Experiences // 7pm - 8pm EST // Free
In her talk, Tracey will introduce us to the tremendous creative possibilities of virtual reality as a medium for immersive storytelling experiences. She will reflect on how Indigenous VR is an innovative platform for youth, elders and artists to engage Indigenous futurism methodologies as a visionary process to transmit knowledge with endless possibilities – to dream, imagine themselves as vital, valued, thriving – and as a mechanism with which to build their futures. sumaxatkʷ Tracey Kim Bonneau is from the syilx nation. She is a senior multimedia artist born and raised in the unceded unsurrendered territory of the suknaqinx (Okanagan.) Tracey has been producing independent short and long documentaries since 1992. In 2011 Tracey co-curated a multimedia digital platform for smartphones utilizing QR Codes "as a way to interpret new media works, sharing discourse about Indigenous dream culture, visions and prophecies.”
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WEEK 2 - Tuesday, November 9th - Monday, November 15th

Tuesday, November 9

The Book - The Future // 8pm - 9pm EST // Free
Avirtual lecture series exploring the forms and purposes of books as methods of communication. E-readers, digitization, and the internet are changing the way people access books and content. In this lecture, The Book: The Future, Dr. Sarah Werner, an independent historian, will share how technological advances are allowing historic books to be utilized in new ways. After the talk, participants are invited to discuss the ways in which we use books may be different in the future. This is the first in a series of three events. Funding for this event is provided by the Georgia Humanities Council. 
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Design x Technology Lecture Series : Shawn Keller // 12:30pm - 1:30pm EST // Free
In the architecture and construction industry, the older generation of workers are currently the most well rounded employees, skilled with their hands and learning new technological programs but their experience is in jeopardy of being replaced by digital tools that attempt to capture this collective memory. There is an industry-wide gap between the craftsmen and the digital products that designers and the younger generation use. Our next Design x Technology - Lunch and Learn lecture, presented by Shawn Keller, President of CW Keller & Associates will dive into this widening chasm and open up the necessary conversation around how to stitch the two sides together.
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Tech + Art: Bridging the Gap Lecture Series - Oksana Nedavniaya // 6pm - 7pm EST // Free
Since 2006, costume concept artist, Oksana Nedavniaya, has illustrated for major Hollywood productions. Her work is featured in The Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian, Suicide Squad, Bright, Aquaman, Venom, Tenet, and The Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. Most recently, she's completed work for The Wheel of Time, Three Thousand Years of Longing, Hawkeye, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Westworld: Season 4, and the latest Marvel blockbuster, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
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HAI Conference on Policy & AI: Four Radical Proposals for a Better Society // 11/9, 12pm - 11/10, 4pm EST // Free
We are pleased to invite you to the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) virtual fall conference on Policy & AI. This year’s virtual fall conference features a novel format. We will present and discuss four policy proposals that respond to the issues and opportunities created by artificial intelligence. Each policy proposal will be a radical challenge to the status quo and capable of having a significant and far-reaching positive impact on humanity. The proposals will be presented to a panel of experts from multiple disciplines and backgrounds, who will vet, debate, and judge the merits of each proposal. We will also encourage audience participation throughout.
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MFA Products of Design Guest Lecture: Debbie Chachra // 1pm EST // Free
Over the past few centuries, our civilization has transformed itself into one that is embedded in and enabled by planetary scale flows of energy, material, and information. For a fortunate fraction of the population, increased access to energy has meant unprecedented agency and capacity. It’s also transformed our relationship to materials, as energy intensive processes that were previously unthinkable have become commonplace, carried out on a massive scale. Decarbonizing and transitioning to renewable energy can power a second transformation in our relationship with the material world, one which leads instead to greater justice, equity, and sustainability. To do this, we will need more than new technologies. We will need to rethink the systems and cultures that surround and enable them. Debbie Chachra is a professor of engineering at Olin College of Engineering, outside Boston, MA, where she was one of the earliest faculty members. She is currently writing a book about infrastructural systems, provisionally titled Public Utility (Riverhead Books, 2023).
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Another Queer World is Possible: Imagining Queer Bandung // 6am - 8am EST // Free
Bringing together filmmakers, curators and activists who were involved in the Imagining Queer Bandung project to introduce and critically reflect on the project, this session will also explore alternative and decolonised ways of imagining and mapping the queer world. If ‘another world is possible’, what about another queer world – a world that is not centred on queer experiences in the Global West and the Global North? What do some of the already existing queer re-worlding practices look like? Imagining Queer Bandung, held in Berlin from June to August 2021, is a queer project that brought together filmmakers, curators and activists from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean through a series of film screening events and film- and podcast-making workshops.
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Wednesday, November 10

CODAworx: CODAsummit 2021 - The Intersection of Art, Technology and Place // 11/10, 9am - 11/12, 7pm EST // Free
CODAsummit is the only conference focused on the exciting ways creative professionals are incorporating technology to create artwork installations that are changing the ways we experience our environments. This year’s conference will be hosted by the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, and will take place during Canal Convergence, the premiere interactive light art festival at the Scottsdale canal. This year’s Canal Convergence theme: art and technology – in tribute to CODAsummit!
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The Materialities of Architectural Discourse // 8pm - 9:30pm EST // Free
If “the medium is the message,” as Marshall McLuhan famously put it, what happens when architectural theory moves beyond print? Hosted by CCA HTX as a part of the fall 2021 Architectural Theory course, The Materialities of Architectural Discourse explores the new mediums and platforms through which architectural theory is happening today—particularly emerging ones that might call into question some of the ways that theory and discourse have familiarly been materialized. From blogs to podcasts to loud readers, what possibilities and perils do new mediums raise for architectural thought and discourse?
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Fredrickson Family Innovation Lab: Claudia Hart, "The Real Fake" // 7pm - 8pm EST // Free
Claudia Hart is a pioneer, bringing advanced simulations technologies to the contemporary art world context, developing “post photography” through her personal art practice, critical writing, curating, and pedagogy. This talk will take place inside a world she built on the Mozilla Hubs, an open-source social VR platform. Students will be invited to join her, all embodied by digital avatars, to participate in a short seminar in which Hart presents her work in relationship to contemporary media practice from mixed realities to the NFT distributed on the Ether blockchain.
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Data and Human Communication // 9pm - 10pm EST // Free
This lecture and the workshop are a part of the guest speaker lecture series "Data + AI + Design". Hyemi Song is a designer, an artist, and a researcher. She is interested in data as a language for human communication and relevant practices associated with Information Data Visualization, Data Sonification, Human-Computer Interaction, Data-Driven Self-Expression, and Walking as an artistic language. She will also give a 2 hour data visualization workshop on Friday 11/12.
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Educational Futures; Leeds School of Architecture Technology Symposium 2021 // 12pm - 3pm EST // Free
The challenge to deliver an architectural education which addresses the climate emergency has never been greater. A rapid movement is required to equip students with the necessary skills and awareness to drive an informed design-led response generating an ecologically resilient future. In response to this, the Leeds School of Architecture 2021 Technology Symposium asks, what knowledge do architecture students need in order to develop a holistic climate literacy with which they can form a restorative and regenerative zero carbon built environment?
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Thursday, November 11

Speculative Design & Rethinking Design Principles // 10am - 12pm EST // €10.88 – €21.33
By engaging with speculative design, we will reflect on ethical and social impacts of current and future developments. Which leads to the raise of relevant questions that help us rethink our present practices to achieve desirable futures. As a participant you will reflect on how values (and their meanings) might evolve as a result of the evolution of current trends leading to projected futures.
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Paper Futures // 12pm - 1pm EST // Free
The third and final Sandars Lecture will explore the relevance and future of paper studies. The technological tension between parchment and paper is a common ground of debate amongst medieval book and archival historians. We can see similar considerations in the discussion around paper and new technologies. Rather than focusing on what can be perceived as tensions, imagining future technological scenarios offers renewed possibilities for collaborative thinking centred on the study of medieval paper. How can we bring the study of medieval paper into the future and how can two technologies, one of the past and one of the future, work together to enhance and share knowledge and tell new stories?
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The Mental State of Noise: Noise, information, and the algorithmic unconscious. A new perspective on AI // 12pm - 2pm EST // Free
In his romantic AI movie Her, filmmaker Spike Jonze analyzes the story of one Theodore Twombly, a man who began an intimate relationship following the breakdown of his marriage. Theodore’s love interest is of a radically new kind: he is conducting it with his operating system—OS One, also known as Samantha, by Element Software. Her has been given many different interpretations—many have said that it is a film about technological singularity; for others, it is about technological development. However, these criticisms miss a crucial aspect: Her is not a film about machines, but about humans and the difficulties they experience as they try to live and build their identities in a world of hyper-technological capitalism.
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Using Blender to Build Digital Gardens // 12pm EST // Donation
Growing a plant seems easy enough; put it in the ground, water it, and give it enough sunlight. Unless you’re trying to grow a fiddle leaf fig in a small Brooklyn apartment, plant care is fairly uninvolved. But three-dimensional digital gardens need focused tending. They need to be constructed from scratch within a digital environment, with thought behind the shape, color, and animation. In this workshop, artist Rachel Li will teach participants the basics of creating plants in 3D using Blender and Unity. Attendees will learn the basics of how to construct different types of plants before being taught how to animate them to properly react to light. 
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‘Temporary Fabulous Zones’: Che Gossett and Wu Tsang in conversation // 12pm - 1pm EST // Free
Artist Wu Tsang joins writer and critical theorist Che Gossett for this online event. Over the last decade, Tsang’s award-winning work in film, performance, and sculpture has engaged marginalised histories and narratives and interrogated regimes of visibility and visuality, particularly with regard to processes of gendering and racialisation. Gossett specialises in queer and trans studies, abolitionist thought, and black study, considering these in relation to contemporary art practices. This event brings Tsang and Gossett together in a critical discussion of art, visibility, black and trans poetics, collaboration, and more.
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We Are Not Data // 6pm - 8pm EST // $54.06
Algorithmic systems and artificial intelligence rely on a willingness to measure the world and then allow those measurements to stand in for the thing, living or non-living, from which they were derived. This process alienates experience from the lived world and creates systems that fundamentally misrepresent how things are. Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Mi'Jan Celie Tho-Biaz, Ed.D. is, among many things, an oral historian. Mi'Jan Celie's practice incorporates small, public oral history interviews that are thoughtfully designed and carefully curated as performative art spaces which then facilitate a larger witnessing. Mi'Jan Celie will share her practice and prompt a collective conversation about how data is "acquired" in AI systems, particularly AI-based art works.
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The Borders of Astrobiology: Inclusion, Fairness and Engagement // 11am - 12:30pm EST // Free
This event will consider issues of ethical engagement and knowledge production in astrobiology, addressing questions such as: how can we facilitate increased engagement in space activities, especially in developing and emerging countries and among marginalized groups, how can we explore and challenge structural inequalities and power hierarchies to achieve fair co-production and not least, what ‘fairness’ and ‘inclusion’ mean in this context.
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Friday, November 12

Measuring the temperature of my mind // 5pm - 7pm EST // Free
This workshop is a part of the guest speaker lecture series "Data + AI + Design". Hyemi Song is a designer, an artist, and a researcher. She is interested in data as a language for human communication and relevant practices associated with Information Data Visualization, Data Sonification, Human-Computer Interaction, Data-Driven Self-Expression, and Walking as an artistic language. She will also give a public lecture on Wednesday, 11/10.
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The Realm of Possibility - A Gender and Queer Studies Symposium // 11/12, 76er am - 11/14, 10am EST // Free
The Realm of Possibility (RoP) is an interdisciplinary, international symposium addressing issues and phenomena connected to Gender and Queer Studies. After a successful launch in 2020 with a wonderfully diverse panel of speakers, the 2021 symposium will concentrate on the topic of masculinity. While contributions from sociology, psychology, etc. are welcome, the symposium’s focus is on cultural and artistic expressions of selfhood and zeitgeist that can be read through the lens of Gender and Queer Studies. We will explore phenomena of masculinity throughout time and in different cultures, with some guiding questions as follows: What is masculinity? How is it taught? Is it something inherently present in cis-male bodies or is it purely performative? What does masculinity look like in the queer community? What makes toxic masculinity toxic? Is there such a thing as transmasculinity? What is the relationship between patriarchal structures and masculinity?
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Saturday, November 13

Janus // 12pm - 1:30pm EST // Free
What if myth were not a lie, but a story truer than truth? This preview screening and conversation with artists takes us backstage into the creative process of devising a new intimate dramatic work. The story features an encounter with Janus, the two-faced and powerful yet limited deity of doorways. Destiny brings this god and a human together in a cave-like workshop, though they remain obscured from each other’s sight by a mortal veil. Making an opening for them to truly see each other will require a magic outside of either of their powers of creation.
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Panel Discussion: Women in the Workforce & Equitable Futures // 4pm - 5pm EST // $0 - $45
Join us for a special virtual panel discussion facilitated by artist Sawyer Rose. We will unpack the many themes present in her exhibition Carrying Stones, including the gender pay gap, leadership advancement opportunities for women, gendered expectations and requirements, workforce participation and retention, and breaking through the glass ceiling. Let’s examine the structures of our society and reflect on the barriers, opportunities, and systems that women face and navigate daily.
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Theatre of the Future: Chekhov and Performance Capture // 10:30am - 12:30pm EST // £22 – £25
Performance capture is central to 21st century storytelling. These processes are the lifeblood of the global games industry, facilitate the animation of avatars in XR environments, were key to the creation of 9 of the 10 highest-grossing films of all time, and are being widely explored by innovative musicians and theatre makers. However, this futuristic medium challenges the assumptions of traditional artistic practices. While much has been invested in developing the software and hardware that underlie this medium, the technologies enabling the performances at its heart have received comparatively little attention. How can we play in the theatre of the future?
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Sunday, November 14

Worldbuilding in Speculative Fiction // 2pm - 4pm EST // CA$0 – CA$16.52
Worldbuilding can be the most fun part of writing a genre novel—and it can also be the most frustrating! This workshop will focus on worldbuilding in sci-fi and fantasy, including developing the internal logic and reasoning of the world, how to build worlds that are 'just a little different' from ours, organizing components and ideas, using research to 'fill in' the holes, and some tips on guiding readers through an unfamiliar world without being intrusive or info-dumping.
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Future Foods: What will be on dining tables in 2025? // 11/14, 11pm - 11/15, 12am EST // Free
Over the last decade, substantial research activities in food science have been dedicated toward prospecting and investigating physiochemical, nutritional and health properties of novel protein sources. This trend was fueled by predictions of increased human population and lack of a parallel increase in traditional animal protein sources (land and marine sources). These predictions should be revised in the light of the recent Covid-19 pandemic and an increase in civil unrest in many hotspots worldwide. One of the main drivers for the rise in novel proteins/ novel foods research activities is linked to significant changes in young consumers’ attitudes toward red meat consumption and their interest in new alternative protein products. This has led to important changes in the food market. This webinar will create awareness of potential future food choices and stimulate a wide scientific community discussion to consider the impact of future foods away from media hyperbole.
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Monday, November 15

🔥Perennial Activities: Perspectives on Astroculture // 11/15 - 11/19, 12pm EST (multiple talks) // Free
The journey of humans into space is often figured and imagined as a radical break from contemporary life on Earth. Scholars like De Witt Douglas Kilgore note that science and speculative fiction more generally take this approach, and this attitude has diffused throughout pop culture's conceptions of humanity's future in the stars. Yet other scholars like Tamara Alvarez document countervailing trends, like the figuring of the Moon as an Eighth Continent, that attempt to normalize outer space to contemporary concepts in order to extend concepts useful to the powers that be, like property rights, off-world. Perennial Activities will host a week-long series of lectures dedicated to examining several seemingly universal human behaviors and asking how these are developing for the space age - Monday, 15 Nov: Ayodamola Okunseinde - Cooking & Eating, Tuesday, 16 Nov: Edward Butler - Worshipping, Wednesday, 17 Nov: Eleanor Armstrong & Akvile Terminaite (Exo-Moan Studio) - Having Sex, Thursday, 18 Nov: Sitraka Rakotoniaina - Playing, Friday, 19 Nov: Sands Fish - Crafting
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Generating Community and Thought With Gaming Avatars // 4pm EST // Donation
As the pandemic continues to rage on across the globe, much of the art world has lagged behind in creating meaningful and unique digital spaces to host exhibitions and performances. Digitally recreating the brick and mortar blue chip gallery white cube in 3D amplifies the slew of problems that already exist. More than that, they shy away from encouraging a sense of community and interaction between audience members. One solution to creating meaningful digital spaces is by using the videogame tools we already have. In this interview, artist Kara Güt will sit down as an avatar within Red Dead Redemption 2 to discuss with Killscreen founder Jamin Warren the concept of videogames as material for an art practice. Kara will go over her current practice of looking at modding and gaming as art and storytelling practices, and how the active work of overseeing a community and fostering those conversations is integral to how she creates, interprets, and tells stories.
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The Future of Convergent Manufacturing: A Virtual Workshop Series // 11/15, 11/19 & 11/22, 10:30am - 3pm ET // Free
Convergent manufacturing combines different materials and processes (including both additive and traditional subtractive manufacturing) to produce functional products and components. These systems are designed with unprecedented modularity, connectivity, and flexibility to enable the creation of parts and entirely new devices on demand for both commercial and defense applications. Please join the National Academies for a series of workshops on the future of convergent manufacturing and key areas for R&D investment. During the workshop, invited speakers from academia, federal agencies, and industry (including Tesla/SpaceX, Intel, and Siemens) will explore the latest material design and manufacturing techniques, exciting potential applications, and supply chain needs.
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Artificial Intimacy with Prof Rob Brooks // 3am - 4am EST // Free
Technology is evolving, and, now more than ever, is influencing the way we build friendships, relationships, and have sex. These ground-breaking technologies can potentially provide targeted intimacy to people of all genders and sexualities, but can they replace a human relationship? How do we program affection? Spontaneity? Love? Join Prof Robert Brooks, as we explore the infiltration and impact of virtual reality and artificial intelligence in our social and emotional lives.
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Upcoming Speculative Futures Meetups 

The Thing from the Future! // Speculative Futures Louisville // Thursday, November 4th, 5:30pm - 7:30pm EDT // Free (in person)
Hello Future People!
Please join us for another in-person meetup on Thursday November 4th at Great Flood Taproom on Bardstown Road for some…
Pizza, Pints, and Playing a future-focused card game!
"Imagining the future can be daunting, but The Thing from the Future card game makes it fun."
We're going to play "The Thing from the Future" an award-winning imagination game that challenges players to collaboratively and competitively describe objects from a range of alternative futures.
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Meetup #1 // Speculative Futures Toronto // Sunday, November 7th, 6pm - 7pm EST // Free
Meetup #1 is Speculative Futures Toronto's first event where we introduce the chapter, share resources and network. In this event:
Meet the Toronto futures community!
Get a list of some curated futures resources.
Short futures reflection activity- “Time Capsule”
We will start the meetup on Zoom and then later migrate to for socialization!
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Speculative Futures The Hague x Pioneers for Change: RE:IMAGINE // Speculative Futures The Hague // Thursday, November 11th, 10am - 12pm EDT // Free
This event is a collaboration with Pioneers for Change and part of their RE:IMAGINE series.
Workshop | Speculative Design & Rethinking Value with: Anouk Geenen, Julieta Matos Castaño & Reon Brand
Learn to use your imagination, get to know the principles of Speculative Design. How can we rethink value in a changing landscape?
By engaging with speculative design, we will reflect on ethical and social impacts of current and future developments, raising relevant questions that help us rethink our present practices to achieve desirable futures.
Participants reflect on how values (and their meanings) might evolve as a result of the evolution of current trends leading to projected futures (i.e. Gaia/ track 4, Co-merging Futures study Reon Brand).
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Speculative News & Resources 📰

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

🔥What is 'futures studies' and how can it help us improve our world? // World Economic Forum
Futures studies is the systematic study of possible, probable and preferable futures. It can be used to help leaders and communities manage uncertainties and increase their resilience and innovation. We spoke with futurist Dr. Stuart Candy about the latest developments in this field and how it can help us solve pressing global challenges...
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Against longtermism // Aeon
There seems to be a growing recognition that humanity might be approaching the ‘end times’. Dire predictions of catastrophe clutter the news. Social media videos of hellish wildfires, devastating floods and hospitals overflowing with COVID-19 patients dominate our timelines. Extinction Rebellion activists are shutting down cities in a desperate attempt to save the world. One survey even found that more than half of the people asked about humanity’s future ‘rated the risk of our way of life ending within the next 100 years at 50 per cent or greater.’...
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The UNESCO Futures Studio: Why foresight and futures thinking matters? [video]
This session launched the collaboration between ADB and UNESCO to advance the Futures Literacy Network in Asia and the Pacific (FLNAP) and to accelerate the use of Futures Literacy in collaboration with UNESCO Chairs across the region. Opening remarks by Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for the Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO. Panel discussion with UNESCO Chairs from Malaysia, Philippines and Uzbekistan on why futures literacy matters? Panel discussion with ADB and UNESCO team on “What brings ADB and UNESCO together?” to review examples and case studies from the two organizations on futures and foresight
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AI-Savvy Criminals Clone Executive’s Voice in $35 Million Deepfake Bank Heist // SingularityHub
Thanks to the advance of deepfake technology, it’s becoming easier to clone peoples’ voices. Some uses of the tech, like creating voice-overs to fill in gaps in Roadrunner, the documentary about Anthony Bourdain released this past summer, are harmless (though even the ethics of this move were hotly debated when the film came out). In other cases, though, deepfaked voices are being used for ends that are very clearly nefarious—like stealing millions of dollars. An article published last week by Forbes revealed that a group of cybercriminals in the United Arab Emirates used deepfake technology as part of a bank heist that transferred a total of $35 million out of the country and into accounts all over the world...
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How Technology Is Reshaping Every Aspect of Daily Life // Motherboard [Video]
In depth look from Motherboard on our modern times. We are all intimately familiar with how enmeshed society is with technology but when you take a step back, that connection is also a little jarring. This video speculates on the future of cities, money, colleges…and more.
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Where Computing Might Go Next // MIT Tech Review
If the future of computing is anything like its past, then its trajectory will depend on things that have little to do with computing itself. Technology does not appear from nowhere. It is rooted in time, place, and opportunity. The capabilities and constraints of machines are determined not only by the laws of physics and chemistry but by who supports those technologies, who builds them, and where they grow...
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Lidar reveals hundreds of long-lost Maya and Olmec ceremonial centers // ArsTechnica
An airborne lidar survey recently revealed hundreds of long-lost Maya and Olmec ceremonial sites in southern Mexico. The 32,800-square-mile area was surveyed by the Mexican Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia, which made the data public. When University of Arizona archaeologist Takeshi Inomata and his colleagues examined the area, which spans the Olmec heartland along the Bay of Campeche and the western Maya Lowlands just north of the Guatemalan border, they identified the outlines of 478 ceremonial sites that had been mostly hidden beneath vegetation or were simply too large to recognize from the ground...
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A Fascinating Plot Twist as Researchers Recreate Classic "Primordial Soup" Experiment // Hackaday
Science is built on reproducibility; if someone else can replicate your results, chances are pretty good that you’re looking at the truth. And there’s no statute of limitations on reproducibility; even experiments from 70 years ago are fair game for a fresh look. A great example is this recent reboot of the 1952 Miller-Urey “primordial soup” experiment which ended up with some fascinating results...
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The ‘Dune’ Screenplay Was Written in MS-DOS // Vice
Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.  In the brutal future of Frank Herbert’s Dune, computers are outlawed and high level computations are done by specially trained and bred humans called mentats. In Herbert’s world, there’s something elegant about old solutions to new problems. Good then that Oscar winning Dune screenwriter Eric Roth banged out the screenplay using the MS-DOS program Movie Master. Roth writes everything using the 30-year-old software. “I work on an old computer program that’s not in existence anymore,” Roth said in an interview in 2014. “It’s half superstition and half fear of change.” Roth wrote the screenplay for Dune in 2018 and explained he was still using Movie Master on a Barstool Sports podcast in 2020. That means Dune was written in an MS-DOS program...
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This Company is Making Digital Humans to Serve in the Metaverse // The Verge
Sam isn’t a real person — she’s a digital human created by Auckland-based tech company Soul Machines. Designed to have a short conversation with visitors about herself, she runs on a proprietary “digital brain” and studies my expressions via webcam. At one point Sam asks me to smile but can’t seem to register my biggest, brightest “cheese.” I wonder if I’m just bad at emoting. When she asks if I know what autonomous animation is, I respond “No, but you’re about to tell me.”...
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Expert Warns that Human Beings Are Going to Start Getting Hacked // Futurism
Yuval Harari, a world-renowned social philosopher and the bestselling author of “Sapiens,” has a stark warning: we need to start regulating AI, because otherwise big companies are going to be able to “hack” humans. Harari believes that the rapidly increasing sophistication of AI could lead to a population of “hacked humans,” according to a report from CBS‘s “60 Minutes.” To deal with this issue, he’s calling on the world’s leaders to begin regulating AI and data collection efforts by large corporations...
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An e-Bus Starts Testing World’s First Wireless Electric Road, in Breakthrough Project // AutoEvolution
Several countries are promoting a carbon-neutral future by supporting electric vehicles, but Sweden, which is always one step ahead when it comes to innovations, is taking things even further, by introducing electric highways. It plans to have 1,240 miles (2,000 km) of electric highways by 2030, and become emissions-free by 2045. To achieve these goals, the Swedish Transport Administration is funding four electric road demonstration projects implemented by several partners, in Italy, Germany, Sweden, and Israel. ElectrReon plays a leading part, as the provider of the in-road wireless EV charging technology...
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The Uselessness of Useful Knowledge // Quanta Magazine
Is artificial intelligence the new alchemy? That is, are the powerful algorithms that control so much of our lives — from internet searches to social media feeds — the modern equivalent of turning lead into gold? Moreover: Would that be such a bad thing? According to the prominent AI researcher Ali Rahimi and others, today’s fashionable neural networks and deep learning techniques are based on a collection of tricks, topped with a good dash of optimism, rather than systematic analysis. Modern engineers, the thinking goes, assemble their codes with the same wishful thinking and misunderstanding that the ancient alchemists had when mixing their magic potions...
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How a Bioworks Startup Is Trying To Reprogram the World [Video] // Bloomberg
After raising almost $3 billion, Ginkgo Bioworks has built the world’s largest DNA factory in a bid to alter the code behind life and replace traditional manufacturing with biology.
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Sentons launches smaller sensors that can turn any surface into virtual controls // Venturebeat
Sentons has launched a new low-power and small sensor with an accompanying gesture engine to be used in wearables (including glasses, earbuds, watches, and fitness trackers) to create virtual controls to navigate apps and features on the devices themselves. The SDSwave processor (model SNT8255) and gesture engine unlock a customizable, ergonomic user experience, while eliminating UX design restrictions that come from the limited real estate and tiny surfaces found on the displays of wearables. As an example, it can embed a force sensor in wireless earbuds...
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The future Meta wants // Protocol
Facebook is an app. Meta is the company. That was the final message of Mark Zuckerberg's keynote at the Connect conference, in which he also explained a number of the ways Facebook — sorry, Meta — is thinking about the metaverse. Meta is a "metaverse-first" company. That's what Zuckerberg said he hoped the name change signals. But both in making that change and in some of Meta's other new announcements, one thing is abundantly clear: Facebook is going from the center of a digital universe into just another app in the portfolio. And its days may be numbered...
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AI is now learning to evolve like earthly lifeforms // TNW
Hundreds of millions of years of evolution have blessed our planet with a wide variety of lifeforms, each intelligent in its own fashion. Each species has evolved to develop innate skills, learning capacities, and a physical form that ensure its survival in its environment. But despite being inspired by nature and evolution, the field of artificial intelligence has largely focused on creating the elements of intelligence separately and fusing them together after development. While this approach has yielded great results, it has also limited the flexibility of AI agents in some of the basic skills found in even the simplest lifeforms...
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These stunning ice sculptures are helping save communities ravaged by climate change // FastCompany
Severe water shortages are a fundamental issue for the people who live in this cold desert. Their existence relies on the success of their crops, which can only be cultivated over a few short months of the year, often irrigated by diverted glacier meltwater. However, climate change over the past decades has meant that glaciers in the region have been shrinking, or disappearing altogether, at a worrying rate, thus reducing the short growing season further. An increasingly viable solution to this problem is the construction of ice stupas—artificial glaciers built to store winter water for use in the arid months of late spring and early summer, when meltwater is scarce. Invented in 2013 by engineer Sonam Wangchuk in Ladakh, the idea is to conserve this tower of ice as far into the year as possible so that, as it melts, it feeds the fields until the real glacial meltwaters start flowing again later in the summer...
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Will China really have flying cars in 2024? // Protocol

On either side of the Pacific Ocean, tech companies seem to have an obsession with the sky. While Elon Musk is launching rockets to space, Chinese electric vehicle company XPeng — a prominent domestic challenger to Tesla — is aiming for a lower altitude. On Oct. 24, it released a new product: a flying car that it says will enter mass production in 2024. With two big propellers and a sci-fi design, XPeng's new product resembles a cross between a drone, a helicopter and an electric car. Suddenly, everyone in China is talking about flying cars, or Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft, as they are more formally known. Above everything, people are asking whether the promise of rolling them out in 2024 is realistic or over-optimistic. So far, it looks like the pessimists are more likely right...
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McDonald's Partners with IBM to Replace Drive-Thru Employees with AI // Futurism
McDonald’s is partnering with IBM to implement artificial intelligence tech to take orders at its drive-thru lanes. It’s arguably the last thing we need: the kind of frustration we get from trying to communicate with AI-powered software — cough, Siri — could make anybody rip their hair out the next time they hit up a fast food joint. And that’s not to mention losing more human jobs to automated systems, a worrying trend that’s already well underway...
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The animals that may exist in a million years, imagined by biologists // Vox
While it can sometimes seem like humanity is hell-bent on environmental destruction, it’s unlikely our actions will end all life on Earth. Some creatures are sure to endure in this age of mass extinction and climate crisis. Over time, they will adapt to a harsher world we’ve helped create, evolving to meet the moment as best they can. Some of these transformations have gotten underway in our lifetimes. Climate change, some research suggests, is already “shape shifting” animals — shrinking certain migratory birds and speeding up the life cycles of amphibians, for example. No one knows exactly what changes to plants and animals will transpire in the years to come. Still, evolutionary biologists say it’s worth trying to imagine what creatures will evolve in the future.
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How Silicon Valley hatched a plan to turn blood into human eggs // MIT Tech Review
A few years ago, a young man from California’s technology scene began popping up in the world’s leading developmental biology labs. These labs were deciphering the secrets of embryos and had a particular interest in how eggs are formed. Some thought if they discovered that recipe, they would be able to copy it and transmute any cell into an egg. Today the company Krisiloff started, called Conception, is the largest commercial venture pursuing what’s called in vitro gametogenesis, which refers to turning adult cells into gametes—sperm or egg cells. It employs around 16 scientists and has raised $20 million from well-known tech figures including Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI and former president of Y Combinator; Jaan Tallinn, one of the founders of Skype; and Blake Borgeson, a cofounder of Recursion Pharmaceuticals...
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Fun Stuff 🚀

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

Open Calls/Submissions/Opportunities & Cool Projects

Open Calls, Submissions & Other Opportunities

Contribute to CfP: The Automated Condition. Manifestations and Narratives in Art, Literature and Culture // Deadline 11/15
This interdisciplinary graduate conference wishes to both connect and cross-pollinate historical case studies on automation with theoretical perspectives on the conditions it produces. Collectively, literature, art, and culture can provide vital points of entry into the interrogation of life in the automated condition, question whether it is truly a fatal form of passivity, and offer a nuanced and holistic understanding of its promises and its possibilities. This workshop, held in English, is a collaboration between graduate students of the Department of German, Princeton University and the FWF-project “Co-operative Art Techniques” at the Center for Cultural Studies, University of Graz. The first workshop will take place in Princeton on May 12-13, 2021. A second conference is envisioned to take place in Graz in the Winter Semester 2022/2023. To apply, please send an abstract of no more than 300 words with a provisionary paper title, and a short bio in English to Dennis Schäfer ( and Mona Schubert ( by November 15. Presenters will be notified by December 15.
Learn More & Apply

With A Cast of Colored Stars // Deadline 11/29
With a Cast of Colored Stars, is an upcoming exhibition that examines visual representations of Black identity and language found in early African-American cinema and music. Borrowing from film studio phrases such as “an all colored cast” or “with a cast of colored stars,” we look closely at how early forms of graphic design in the United States were complicit in shaping stereotypes and reinforcing racism. The exhibition aims to re-interpret, re-envision and re-mix the visual vernacular used to reinforce segregation, as means of direct intervention to Jim Crow era print media.The show’s exhibited content will primarily focus on print ephemera from popular entertainment, highlight examples of Black representation and identify important cultural symbols used to define Blackness in design. From film posters to music sheet covers, artists and designers will explore the historical significance of these printed forms as they propagated a legacy of racialized iconography that continues to impact U.S. racial formations as we understand them today.
Learn More & Apply

Cool Projects

The Time Travel Agency
The Time Travel Agency is a speculative design research studio in the Nordics and online. We create products, experimental methods, and participatory experiences that prepare people to reach the future in order to imagine it differently.
Check It Out

Envisioning's Radar for Sci-fi -> Sci-Fact: Neuromancer
If the world is made of narratives, the best way to forecast our future is to understand which stories are influencing our thinking and technological imagination. By looking at prominent sci-fi pieces, Envisioning introduces interactive maps which present a comparative analysis that showcases the connection between fictional technologies and current scientific research. This is the fourth in the series of explorations.
Check It Out

Ask Delphi // Alien Institute for AI
Delphi is a research prototype designed to investigate the promises and more importantly, the limitations of modeling people’s moral judgments on a variety of everyday situations. The goal of Delphi is to help AI systems be more ethically-informed and equity-aware. By taking a step in this direction, we hope to inspire our research community to tackle the research challenges in this space head-on to build ethical, reliable, and inclusive AI systems.
Check It Out

Gaming, Shows, Books & Other Random Cool Stuff

Build A Cyberpunk Arsenal With These Robot Kits // Futurism
Sure, the cyberpunk genre was intended as a warning about what we don’t want to become, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to imagine stories set in a neon-drenched metropolis full of desperate cyborg hackers. Geeek Club is taking that one step further with 5 models that will draw you into a cyber reverie while teaching you the electrical engineering skills you need to hang with the deckers.
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These impossible instruments could change the future of music // MIT Tech Review
When Gadi Sassoon met Michele Ducceschi backstage at a rock concert in Milan in 2016, the idea of making music with mile-long trumpets blown by dragon fire, or guitars strummed by needle-thin alien fingers, wasn’t yet on his mind. At the time, Sassoon was simply blown away by the everyday sounds of the classical instruments that Ducceschi and his colleagues were re-creating.
“When I first heard it, I couldn’t believe the realism. I could not believe that these sounds were made by a computer,” says Sassoon, a musician and composer based in Italy. “This was completely groundbreaking, next-level stuff.”
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Mac-shaped pillow makers are back so you can cover your couch in computers // The Verge
A company called Throwboy is back with another Kickstarter for a collection of pillows shaped like classic Macs, following its 2018 line of Apple-inspired plushes. It’s fittingly called The Iconic Pillow Collection 2, and features pillows shaped like soft versions of Apple’s Lisa, iBook, and both the cheese grater and cube flavors of Power Mac. For Apple history buffs who want to spruce up their living or bedrooms, it may be a campaign worth investigating...
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This Spooky, Bizarre Haunted House Was Generated by an AI // SingularityHub
AI is slowly getting more creative, and as it does it’s raising questions about the nature of creativity itself, who owns works of art made by computers, and whether conscious machines will make art humans can understand. In the spooky spirit of Halloween, one engineer used an AI to produce a very specific, seasonal kind of “art”: a haunted house. It’s not a brick-and-mortar house you can walk through, unfortunately; like so many things these days, it’s virtual, and was created by research scientist and writer Janelle Shane. Shane runs a machine learning humor blog called AI Weirdness where she writes about the “sometimes hilarious, sometimes unsettling ways that machine learning algorithms get things wrong.”
Check it Out

What I'm Reading

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

Ring Shout
P Djeli Clark

101 Design Methods
Vijay Kumar

Mira Grant

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