SciFly // 146 // Remote Speculations Week 39/40

Speculative Events, News & Resources | Sent 12/14

Hey SciFly Readers!

Happy holidays, whichever ones you are celebrating (or not)! I hope you are all healthy, safe, and thriving as best as possible as we plunge into winter and finally put a wrap on this crazy crazy year. As you can see from the events below, everyone is taking a bit of a winter break around Xmas/New Year's, so most stuff is happening in Week 1 this time around. I also tried to add in some more articles, projects, and other fun stuff to keep you busy!!

On my end, I've have spent the last couple of days living mostly in Night City, the fictional future megalopolis that stars in Cyberpunk2077. I know the game has gotten a lot of flack so far for bugs and graphics, but aside from my poor little PS4 trying to render the big bad world, it is a wonderful story so far, filled with all the little interesting bits of lore, pamphlets, graffiti, signs, side-conversations etc. I could hope for as a nerdy speculative futurist. I know FPS is important and all, but I love playing video games my way, observing all the minutiae and detail that went into the world-building, and slowly trying to understand what is around me through the lens of the persona I inhabit. Just wow, having so much fun!

Anyway, more importantly, this week I want to tell you all about an AMAZING upcoming certificate program in Post Planetary Universal Design, co-led by Carla Leitão and Ed Keller. While I was haven't worked with Carla yet, Ed is one of my favorite thinkers, educators, and human beings. I was super lucky to have an opportunity to learn about some aspects of Post Planetary Design during a semester-long course with Ed while in grad school at Parsons and continually had my mind stretched, shifted, and remade as I went through 3 months of perpetual cognitive dissonance (in a good way) as our class moved across different scales of speculation.

From what I've learned so far, this certificate program looks even more exciting, and if you have a chance, you should jump at this opportunity to study this super-important practice from some truly brilliant people!!!

Post-Planetary Universal Design Certificate

The New Centre for Research&Practice

The New Centre is now offering a new Certificate in Post-Planetary Universal Design, led by Ed Keller & Carla Leitão.

This program asks how design can operate as a way of thinking and enacting structural change in the post-digital world. You will explore the most speculative and critical aspects of current design and theory, pursuing links and resonances across media, technology, philosophy, ecology, and planetary sciences.

The program features a hybrid seminar and research studio curriculum with a foundation in architecture as a core discipline and includes symposia, conferences, and other collaborations to support coursework. Students will be encouraged to develop projects/research at the most ambitious, planetary level; the program will function as a co-lab, a studio, a convivial think-tank, a thesis workshop, a critical hub.

Courses in spring 2021 include Studio One: WORLD, taught by Ed Keller and Carla Leitão, and Programmed Ontologies, taught by Ezio Blasetti and Danielle Willems. 

Carla Leitão & Ed Keller

Also, the Post-Planetary Universal Design's upcoming Overview Effect lectures series will include Lydia Kallipoliti, Stephanie Wakefield, Peter Watts, and Ben Goertzel, whose respective work reshapes disciplinary boundaries across architecture, systems design, geography, ecology, planetology, alien life, and AGI. 

The New Centre spring/summer 2021 season also features seminars by J.-P. Caron, Una Chung, Colin Drumm, Esther Leslie, Lukáš Likavčan, Anna Longo, Dejan Lukic, Jason Mohaghegh, Thomas Moynihan, Reza Negarestani, Korinna Patelis, Post Brothers, Carl Sachs, Daniel Sacilotto and Tony Yanick. 

You can learn more about the Post Planetary Universal Design certificate program, and all the other cool courses they offer, on the New Centre's website, or click the button below to go straight to the program page.

If you have any questions about the program, you can also shoot me an email at or find me on the Speculative Futures slack (@docmartens) and let me know. I'll do my best to connect you with people from the program to answer your queries and help figure out if this is a good fit for you on your speculative journeys!!!
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.
Couldn't help dropping in my build for V in Cyberpunk 2077. <3

Online Events 🗓

Running list of online events that I will update biweekly. Events are organized chronologically by week, with ongoing events and Speculative Futures events listed separately at the end.

WEEK 1 - Tuesday, December 15 - Monday, December 21

Tuesday, December 15

Circulation & Hybrid Practices (...this is not made of language but energy) // 6pm - 7:30pm EST // Free
This is the last in a series of four online conversations in a speculative exploration of our present and future through topics including toolmaking, modes of circulation, frameworks, and more broadly, our digital lives. By the very nature of its subject, this body of research is ever-evolving, and we look forward to these conversations with an international group of artists, writers, and curators in the weeks to come. This week will be a conversation with Julia Weist and Christina Battle in partnership with Rhizome. It is clear in our day to day life that things flow back and forth from online to physical space, but we often think of these spaces in isolation in art: the art gallery, the publication, and the web. Artists Christina Battle and Julia Weist share a hybridized process of art-making – creating individual artworks that are experienced both online and offline, moving fluidly between these spaces.
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Discussion with curators on Art & Technology // 9am - 10am EST // Free
An artist in conversation with the curators of the 'Tittytaintment Age' exhibition. This exhibition explores the power of communication and currency tools that manipulate our sensation and perception of the world in subtle ways. These external forces play prominent roles in constructing an individual's subjectivity and agency. Tittytainment, a term coined by political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski in 1995, describes the way in which entertaining and intellectually undemanding content pacifies the public and -inhibits people from independent thinking. We view this phenomenon as the opposing perspective of collective intelligence. The works in this project critique both sides, power, and lack of power. The project as a whole looks to energize a collective agency and 'switch people on'.
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Playform for Crypto Artists with Mattia Cuttini // 1pm - 2pm EST // Free
Digital artist Mattia Cuttini discusses his residency with Playform, expanding his body of work through AI generation, and experimenting with technological error as art. Pushing the boundaries and questioning the relationship between technology and art, Cuttini is led to the world of Cryptocurrency as the future of global art markets. Tokenizing his latest works created using AI generation, Cuttini’s work aims to mold the artificial into the natural, and distort or transform the natural into the artificial.
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Infodemic: Artist Talk with Jennifer Gradecki and Derek Curry // 12pm - 1pm EST // Free
Join us for an artist talk by Jennifer Gradecki and Derek Curry on their work "Infodemic" in our "DEEP FAKE" exhibition. During this conversation, we will explore the artists' unique algorithm and the works' reflection on dis-information and its impacts on society.
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MIT Press Live! Presents: Women of Science Tarot // 12:30pm - 1:30pm EST // Free
Join us for a live talk with Nadja Oertelt and Allan Lasser of Massive Science, the creators of the Women of Science Tarot Deck. The Women of Science Tarot Deck is a card game that helps us tell stories about our future based on principles of science. Each major arcana card features a fundamental scientific concept like extinction, diversity, or gravity. The 56 minor arcana cards feature inspirational women who have changed the course of STEM. The lively illustrations are by neuroscientist and comic artist Matteo Farinella. For readers new to tarot or those who want to learn more about women in STEM, accompanying the deck is a guidebook with biographies of all the women featured on the cards as well as information about the major arcana cards.
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The Not-So-Silent Planet: Earth // 9pm - 10:30pm EST // Donation
"Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever." Have you ever imagined a world whose laws of physics differed from our own? In our current dystopian future, the Not-So-Silent Planet is entering cyberspace. Listen to some of the most frequent contributors to the country's only recurring open-mic dedicated to speculative fiction: fantasy, sci-fi, or supernatural horror!
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Wednesday, December 16

Building the Future of Mobility with NewLab // 12pm - 1pm EST // Free
Transformative technology and advanced research is helping to build the future of mobility in a way that benefits everyone, with Michigan emerging as a leader. From startups and entrepreneurs, to academic researchers and universities, to the recently launched Mobility Studio, led in partnership by Newlab, Michigan Central, and Ford, a diverse ecosystem of stakeholders are leading innovative initiatives aimed at creating a connected, autonomous, and electrified world. Join Shaina Horowitz (VP of Products and Programs, Newlab) and our panel of industry, academic and civic experts as they discuss how they are leveraging transformative technology, applied research and real-world testbeds to accelerate advancements in mobility.
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Crisis & Hope. Landscape as Possibility // 7am - 8am EST // Free
Today’s world is hallmarked by crises: economic, climatic, environmental, sanitary, political, and social. Thus, the projects and actions designed or put in place by contemporary designers and other forward thinkers and actors must take full account of this ongoing situation of emergency and plight. The conference series ‘Crisis & Hope’ aims to stimulate an interdisciplinary debate on the elements of crisis but also of possibility and hope to build a better common future. Lectures will focus on how the discipline of design, and landscape design in particular, is being reviewed and reformulated in the light of the wide variety of changes we are currently observing worldwide. This week we feature Antonio Longo from Politecnico di Milano.
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Digital Art: Engaging Beyond the Screen - Mila Askarova and Claudia Hart // 1:30pm - 3pm EST // £5
Visit the new series An Imaginary Ruin in Hubs. The pre-recorded discussion tour is filmed in a Cinéma Vérité-style, in which you will gain an authentic insight into the Hart-curated VR world. Discover how Claudia Hart, the pioneer in New Media and VR, collaborated with Mila Askarova, Founder of Gazelli Art House and From a digital residency covering about 25 years of years in digital art creation to a final exhibition at the gallery. Through talking with Claudia and Mila, we aim to learn more about the impact new technology is having on the contemporary art scene.
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The Soul at Work - Design for Good Project // 12:30pm - 2pm EST // Free
We will be showcasing a project exploring the future of work in partnership with the not-for-profit 'design for good' group Fuzzy and students from the Royal College of Art Service Design Masters course. The session will focus on how the students used speculative design methods to imagine what in the future, a mentally healthy working environment could be, as well as how to ‘normalise’ their ideas in existing, current working practice.
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Thursday, December 17

Ecotopia 2050: A Speaker Discussion Series & Book Club: Episode #5 Ecotopia The Story Without Stuff // 10pm - 11:30pm EST // $20
Based on the 1975 blockbuster utopian novel Ecotopia, this discussion and book club event series revisits some of the futuristic visions of the Ernest Callenbach classic. His visionary ideas, and those of his generation, that he so skillfully captured in Ecotopia are a fascinating amalgam of technical, economic, societal, and cultural transformations. They are predictive on so many levels, and the series will explore what has come true, what remains on the list of things to do that were proposed, and what new visions we might begin to pull together in the construction of an updated Ecotopian vision of today. This week features Annie Leonard, Executive Director Greenpeace. 
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Lumen Prize Presented by Leonardo - Press Tour // 12pm - 1pm EST // Free
Join us for a tour of a 3D Virtual World created to showcase the 2020 winners of the Lumen Prize for Art and Technology, celebrating the very best art created with technology through a global competition. This year’s awardees each have their own virtual pavilions designed for the emerging platform NewArt.City, created by virtual world co-producers: DC Spensley, a virtual worlds pioneer, and new media architect Gustavo Rincon. Visitors to this experience will be able to navigate a virtual 3D exhibition featuring the 2020 Lumen Prize–winning artists without the need for downloads or headsets. Each pavilion will be accompanied by a related contextual text from the Leonardo journal archive.
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‘Access and Architecture’ Richard Dougherty // 2pm - 3pm EST // Free
We’ve hosted a series of workshops and public talks throughout 2020, the outcomes from which will culminate in an exhibition that explores the relationship between accessible design and disabled participation. Richard’s talk will focus on his research and understand of the relationship between upbringing, d/Deaf space, design, and aesthetics; and how that informs access and architecture.
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Friday, December 18

🔥 Connecting Eindhoven - Edition "Exploring Near Futures" // 1pm - 4pm EST // Free
“Exploring Near Futures” edition is a self-facilitated creative and virtual event in which you will have a chance to collaboratively craft a glimpse of a possible and desirable future you’d like to work towards. During 3-hours, you and your team members will be challenged to envision and create an inspiring and innovative story. Are we, as a society, prepare to change our consumption patterns to satisfy the needs of all in the future? Are we ready to share knowledge and welfare to create a fairer economy? And how does this future look like if we will use more mechanical, thermal, or chemical energy for our needs? Have you ever considered bio-mechanical artifacts as transportation means? Or gadgets that do not use electricity but react to sound, light, odors, or vibrations to perform actions? Your imagination is the limit! Come and join us!
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The Forest Is In The City Is In The Forest - II // 5:30M - 7:30AM EST // Free
An online lecture, performance, and workshop series with each month being structured around research questions central to the work of the Forest Curriculum. In December, we look at a variety of postcolonial/anticolonial practices that examine how humans have formed a shared human love between humans, inhuman self, and various natures. In addition, it looks at how such practices can be more speculative and merely inform the future with inhuman agents through artistic research and practice. The first lecture with artist Natasha Tonte explores how historically the entanglement of myths and history has been pursued to inform and construct a relationship with nature while evoking a sense of fear, awe, and fear at the same time, and continues the discussion. In the second lecture, the joint discussion with Christian Tablazon and Ayesha Gergis deals with how to inform and form interactions with inhuman agents, relations with history, museum production, preservation, and documentation.
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iBuddy: HumanCare FirmWare // 9pm - 10:30pm EST // $20
iBuddy hacks theatre and games to create an interactive experience. In iBuddy, IsoPro Labs has found the cure for loneliness with their newest innovation: the iBuddy, a prescribed care-companion for people living in isolation. Audience members are greeted as volunteer trainers who have been brought in for their valuable expertise in being-human. They are gathered on zoom to help with the final phase of training of the new iBuddy prototypes, who are played by live actors. Blending theatre and gameplay, audience members are broken into small groups to tackle five rounds of training in hopes of their iBuddy graduating from prototype to fully commissioned care companion.
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Outer Side 1st Virtual Open Studio // 6pm - 7pm EST // $5
Outer Side is a multimedia audiovisual project that draws connections between human emotions and the Solar System. The 60-minute work will be divided into 5 pieces, each inspired by operatic arias, distance and texture of planets. Each piece represents a multidimensional sonic being that breathes through the voice of JU-EH. Through conceptual representations, the face of JU-EH becomes a visual center, surrounded by sonic beings built by five different young composers with different cultural scopes: Chinese-European, Iranian, Indian-American, Caucasian-New York, Caucasian-Seattle.
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Test/Break - a special event focused on prototyping new virtual works (Columbia DSL) // 2:30pm - 4pm EST // Free
Columbia DSL is excited to announce a new monthly prototyping series entitled Test/Break. Each month we'll focus on a number of projects that are in various states of development. Test/Break will provide a forum for creatives exploring new forms and functions of storytelling. Focus is placed on projects that are pushing at the edges of narrative possibilities with emerging technology (AI, AR, VR, IoT...) as well as web pervasive technologies. This is an excellent opportunity for those who are working to adapt or create virtual work and have an interest in experimenting with various types of collaboration and participatory methods of interaction. Each prototyping session is followed by an open conversation between storytellers and participants that pulls back the curtain on creative practice.
Learn More


Saturday, December 19

Exquisite Futures // 11am - 1pm EST // Free
Exquisite Futures is a limited edition publication featuring the work of twenty visual artists based across the world. The book was conceived in the spring of 2020 as an immediate response to the pandemic and the changing modes of art-making. The selected individuals have imagined through the use of collage and photomontage the awaiting futures of our lives and the photographic world.
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How to Unbias your Designs // 1:30pm // Free
What do biases look like in design? What are "10 percent restraints"? Jasmine Orange will be joining Students of UXD to discuss what biases in design look like and what the consequences can be when someone doesn’t recognize that bias can greatly change your design process and outcome: from lack of usability to even potential harm. We will talk about how “edge cases” or “10% restraints” are more common than we even realize. We will also discuss what happens when designers remove those biases and what great good can be done when designing for the 10%.
Learn More

Sunday, December 20

ArtTalk #5 Future World // 10am - 11am EST // Free
This is a dedicated platform to connect artists, curators, galleries, institutions, and art-lovers around the world with each other. Up this week is Dr. Prof. Ram Viranjan, and  Dr. Sonam Sikarwar, presenting on Future World. As we all are aware that the way the environment is changing, imagining a better and safe world is a difficult proposition. The way in which mankind for his convenience and greed is fiddling with the balance of nature, we are seeing and facing the consequences of the same in one form or another. But still, there are few people who are striving to save the future of this planet, only we can save this lost world. Future World series is based on this thought.
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Monday, December 21

🔥 Enchanting Technology: Making, Hacking, and the Occult Imagination // 12/21, 10:30pm - 12/22, 12am EST // $10
Magic and technology share a deeply intimate relationship to the human experience as they are both methods that use tools to gain control over nature and ourselves. The magician and the inventor both attempt to break open conventional ways of working with the forces that shape our lives. Magic is, indeed, a kind of spiritual hacking: They are opening the machine of the universe to understand how it works and bend it towards a new purpose. And when magicians and artists use technology to explore the occult imagination they reveal new ways of enchanting our lives. Based on the research from Peter Bebergal’s Strange Frequencies, this multi-media presentation will take participants through the history of how human beings have attempted to interact with the otherworldly using technology.
Learn More

WEEK 2 - Tuesday, December 22 - Monday, December 28

Tuesday, December 22

Reading Session: On Human Centered Ecology and Technosocial Networks // 1pm - 4pm EST // €8
As we live on the brink of an environmental emergency, a new. understanding of Technological ecology must be cultivated. The carbon cost of one email with an attachment of 1MB is 19 grams of CO2. It is of no exaggeration when we say that every click counts; data-led systems contribute to new ecologies while obscuring the old ones. In this session, we explore how algorithms were often inspired by nature, embedded in nature, but also how they alter our own ecology. How can we use algorithms to subvert the environmental emergency? How can we build new hybrid ecosystems of Human, Machine, Animal, Earth, and Data? This reading group is initiated and curated by Abdel-Rahman Hassan, as part of the Future based platform.
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“What’s my Motivation?” A cybernetic question and its dramatic enactment // 1pm - 2:30pm EST // £0 – £5
The phrase “What’s my motivation?” is often invoked to satirize the stereotypically difficult “method actor” in the domains of theatre and film. Yet, this question at the very heart of the actor’s craft is deeply cybernetic and profoundly important. Iti points to the active causation and self-organizing element of behaviour that is at once deeply cybernetic and at the core of the mimetic mechanisms of dramatic art-forms. How behaviour happens to bring about individual outcomes and how those interact with others' — well there's the rub. Through a lively, interactive session, Tom Scholte will introduce participants to the vast potential of theatre-based modes of cybernetic situational enquiry. It will be designed to explore and, literally, “rehearse” interventions into chronic conflict points in organizations.
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Wednesday, December 23

👾 Nothing to Report!

Thursday, December 24

👾 Nothing to Report!

Friday, December 25 🎄
👾 Nothing to Report!

Saturday, December 26
👾 Nothing to Report!

Sunday, December 27
👾 Nothing to Report!

Monday, December 28

Mars Raiders // 12/28, 9pm - 12/29, 10pm EST // $20
Mars Raiders is a live, interactive theatrical space game that invites you to call into a Mars mission, unlock clues and determine the astronaut’s fate. INASA (InterNational Air and Space Association – a UK/US/EU collaboration) has invited you, a member of the general public, to a Q&A with astronaut Jamie Val who is on a return mission with a precious enzyme sample from Mars. Jamie’s future and the fate of this mission are entirely in your hands.
Learn More

Upcoming Speculative Futures Meetups 

Rituales para el solsticio de invierno // Speculative Futures Madrid // Monday, December 21, 1pm - 2pm EST (in Spanish)
Rituales para solsticio de invierno. Nos adentramos en el origen del concepto de “El Futuro” y por qué lo hemos perseguido desde los inicios. ¿Cuál es el origen del futuro? ¿Cuándo y cómo se originó el futuro y cómo ha evolucionado hasta la fecha?

El concepto de “El Futuro” no apareció de la nada, muchas de sus interpretaciones actuales reflejan que ya existía en las antiguas civilizaciones, mucho antes de que los campos modernos de la física, la historia, la filosofía, la futurología, la ciencia ficción y otros múltiples modos de pensamiento humano enfocado en el futuro emergieron.

¿Por qué el 21 de Diciembre? Sabemos que es lunes, pero ese mismo día a las 5:48 am arrancará la estación más fría del año y es un momento significativo en el imaginario de futuro para varias culturas. Por eso, tenemos preparada una dinámica en Miro y un ritual para dar la entrada al 2021 con buenas energías :)


What is the origin of the future? When and how did the future originate and how has it evolved to date?

The concept of "The Future" did not appear out of nowhere, many of its current interpretations reflect that it already existed in ancient civilizations, long before the modern fields of physics, history, philosophy, futurology, science fiction and multiple other modes of human thought focused on the future emerged.

Why December 21? We know that it is Monday, but that same day at 5:48 am the coldest season of the year will start and it is a significant moment in the imagination of the future for various cultures. Therefore, we have prepared a dynamic in Miro and a ritual to enter 2021 with good energy :)

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Speculative News & Resources 📰

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

The Creator of Cyberpunk 2077 Game Says It's a "Warning" About the Actual Future // Futurism
The long-awaited game Cyberpunk 2077 has finally dropped, and gamers everywhere are ready to dive into an action-packed thriller set in a dystopian world with uneasy similarities to our own. Interestingly, the game is based on a series of Dungeons and Dragons-like tabletop board games, branded as Cyberpunk, that date back to the late 1980s, created by game designer Mike Pondsmith — who’s now offering his own analysis of their meaning. The games were meant as a “warning, not an aspiration,” as Pondsmith told the BBC. “We shouldn’t be hoping to get to this.”
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2021- The Year of Transcendence // Futurist

Each year – like many people – Think Tank member Nikolas Badminton writes his predictions for the following year. These aim to draw attention to areas that maybe haven’t been considered and to ignite some thinking. Let’s dive into his 2021 predictions – the year of transcendence...
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VR Meetings Are Weird, but They Beat Our Current Reality // Wired
THE SUN NEVER sets in virtual reality. This occurred to me after an hour-long briefing in an Oculus Quest 2 headset. Joined by more than a dozen other floating avatars, we teleported our way around an “outdoor” meeting space that could only be described as aircraft-carrier-meets-Croatian-vacation. The press briefing was one of a few ever to occur in VR, a spokesperson for this new app claimed. It's called Arthur, and part of the pitch is that it’s going to catapult VR for work into the mainstream, that meetings and collaboration sessions and deskside briefings will become … headset briefings...
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From system shock to system change – time to transform The Future of Sustainability Report 2020
We live in hugely uncertain times. COVID-19 has shocked the very systems on which we rely, kickstarting a decade already heading for extreme turbulence. We are set to see wide-ranging change and transitions – both positive and negative. Come 2030, will we find ourselves in a just, resilient, and sustainable world? Or one in which we witness ever more destabilizing shocks? Forum for the Future’s latest Future of Sustainability report, From System Shock to System Change – Time to Transform, explores the five key dynamics that lie at the heart of these transitions...
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R2D2 as a model for AI collaboration // Alexis Lloyd on Medium
Imagine this: you have a text editor, and your team is there too. Your colleagues are making suggestions, answering questions, filling in gaps, and being sounding boards. But one of the team is an AI. This essay is about the way we design relationships between humans and machines — and not just how we design interactions with them (though that is a part of it), but more broadly, what are the postures we have towards machine intelligences in our lives and what are their postures toward us? What do we want those relationships to look and feel like?
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Futurist value proposition // Hinesight Blog
Building on my Change is slower than we think post, can we take it a step further and revisit the futurist value proposition? The setup is the perception among the public, our clients, and even some of our futurist colleagues that the rapid, breakneck, accelerating, exponential, unprecedented, etc., etc., speed of change is why we need to pay attention to the future — or we will fall even further behind. It taps into fear, which can be an effective strategy, but I would challenge this on two grounds...
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An MIT Artist Used Slime Mold to Simulate COVID Spread // Futurism
Diemut Strebe, an artist working at MIT, has a lot to say about the United States’ failure to contain or even meaningfully slow down the coronavirus pandemic. But she decided to let a single-celled organism called Physarum polycephalum, better known as slime mold, do the talking. In a new project titled “HYDRA,” Strebe and scientist collaborators at the Santa Fe Institute and Australia’s Macquarie University plopped blobs of slime mold onto a map of the USA — one on each of the first ten counties to hit 1,000 cases of COVID-19 per day. They allowed the slime old to grow, extending its unsettling tendrils outward, in a biological mirror of how the coronavirus spread across the country...
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The Batteries of the Future Are Weightless and Invisible // Wired
Today, batteries account for a substantial portion of the size and weight of most electronics. A smartphone is mostly a lithium-ion cell with some processors stuffed around it. Drones are limited in size by the batteries they can carry. And about a third of the weight of an electric vehicle is its battery pack. For Greenhalgh and his collaborators, the more promising approach is to scrap the battery pack and use the vehicle’s body for energy storage instead. Unlike a conventional battery pack embedded in the chassis, these structural batteries are invisible. The electrical storage happens in the thin layers of composite materials that make up the car’s frame. In a sense, they’re weightless because the car is the battery...
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The Rich Kids Who Want to Tear Down Capitalism // NYTimes
Lately, Sam Jacobs has been having a lot of conversations with his family’s lawyers. He’s trying to gain access to more of his $30 million trust fund. At 25, he’s hit the age when many heirs can blow their money on harebrained businesses or a stable of sports cars. He doesn’t want to do that, but by wealth management standards, his plan is just as bad. He wants to give it all away. “I want to build a world where someone like me, a young person who controls tens of millions of dollars, is impossible,” he said...
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Ernest Cline - Confronting the Dangers of Technology in His Books | The Daily Social Distancing Show (Trevor Noah) [Video]
Author Ernest Cline discusses why diversity is essential in science fiction and how he showcases both the dangers and benefits of technology in “Ready Player Two.” 
Watch Video

How '90s porn led to the internet's foundational law // Vox [Video]
In a collaboration with Retro Report, Open Sourced by Vox looks at how today's heated political arguments over censorship and disinformation online began with a 26-word snippet of a law known as Section 230. Both Democrats and Republicans want it changed, but what would that mean for the future of the Internet?
Watch Video

This Massive New Vertical Farm Can Produce 1,000 Tons of Produce a Year // Futurism
A new vertical farm, opening on the outskirts of Copenhagen, Denmark, is set to start producing nearly 1,000 metric tons of greens a year. Danish startup Nordic Harvest partnered up with Taiwanese vertical farm tech company YesHealth Group to create the towering facility. The plants are grown on 14 stacked shelves totaling to more than 75,000 square feet, where they rely entirely on hydroponics and LED lights and don’t even require pesticides. Energy will come exclusively from wind power, making it entirely carbon neutral...
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‘It will change everything’: DeepMind’s AI makes gigantic leap in solving protein structures // Nature
An artificial intelligence (AI) network developed by Google AI offshoot DeepMind has made a gargantuan leap in solving one of biology’s grandest challenges — determining a protein’s 3D shape from its amino-acid sequence. DeepMind’s program, called AlphaFold, outperformed around 100 other teams in a biennial protein-structure prediction challenge called CASP, short for Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction. The ability to accurately predict protein structures from their amino-acid sequence would be a huge boon to life sciences and medicine. It would vastly accelerate efforts to understand the building blocks of cells and enable quicker and more advanced drug discovery...
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Amazon’s new health band is the most invasive tech we’ve ever tested // Washington Post
Amazon has a new health-tracking bracelet with a microphone and an app that tells you everything that’s wrong with you. You haven’t exercised or slept enough, reports Amazon’s $65 Halo Band. Your body has too much fat, the Halo’s app shows in a 3-D rendering of your near-naked body. The Halo app uses a microphone and Amazon’s AI to evaluate the tone of your voice on multiple dimensions. The Halo app uses a microphone and Amazon’s AI to evaluate the tone of your voice on multiple dimensions. We hope our tone is clear here: We don’t need this kind of criticism from a computer... 
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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

Call for 2021-2022 Faculty Fellows: Race & Technology [CALL] // Deadline 12/16
Data & Society is assembling its eighth class of fellows to join them for 10 months, starting September 1, 2021. Our fellow's program helps ensure that new connections and perspectives deepen and expand our community’s understanding of the challenges and opportunities society faces in a data-centric world. Data & Society fellows have pursued academic research, written code, created art, brought together communities of activists and practice, run workshops and hosted convenings, worked closely with Data & Society’s in-house research team across research initiatives and each other, and much more. Fellows are researchers concerned with the implications of data-centric technology’s role in reconfiguring society. 
Learn More & Apply

2021 Wave Farm Residency Program [RESIDENCY] // Deadline 2/1/21
In 2021, the Wave Farm Residency Program will provide artists with a valuable opportunity to concentrate on new radio artworks and conduct research about the genre using the Wave Farm Study Center resource library. Applicants are asked to propose a specific radio art project, which they will complete while in residence and premiere on Wave Farm's full-power FM radio station: WGXC 90.7-FM Radio for Open Ears. Radio artists explore broadcast radio space through a richly polyphonous mix of practices, including poetic resuscitations of conventional radio drama, documentary, interview, and news formats; found and field sound compositions reframed by broadcast; performative inhabitations/embodiments of radio’s inherent qualities, such as entropy, anonymity, and interference; playful celebrations/subversions of the complex relationship between senders and receivers, and the potential feedback loops between hosts and layers of the audience, from in-studio to listeners at home to callers-in; use of radio space to bridge widely dispersed voices (be they living or dead), subjects, environments, and communities, or to migrate through them in ways that would not be possible in real-time and space; electroacoustic compositions with sounds primarily derived from gathering, generating and remixing radiophonic sources.
Learn More & Apply

TRACKED & TRACED: Science Gallery Detroit [CALL] // Deadline 2/5/21
Watchmen and sentinels were joined over time by security guards and closed-circuit TV, and now, by video, data scraping, and bio-sensors. Retail loyalty programs, website cookies, law enforcement facial recognition software, routine health screening, and airport security lists are all part of the vast presence of different kinds of surveillance in our society. And, these are just the forms that are part of mainstream awareness. What else lurks in the realms where data mining and AI surveillance algorithms are developed, flourish, and get put into practice to drive profit, achieve military or security aims, or control other human behavior? While these technologies are all too often deployed in ways contrary to our individual interests, they have also been used to advance personal and public health, reduce human impact on the environment, and engage citizens in participatory monitoring of the natural world. How can we understand and gain control over these practices, unraveling dystopian connections, and further developing utopian-leaning connections?
Learn More & Submit

Radio D.I.Why [CALL] // Can't Find a Deadline
Radiowave based technologies are all around us: from simple FM-radios in our cars to wifi hotspots from our phones – they take up space in our public sphere both physically and digitally. Our spaces are crowded with radio infrastructure that provides us with a faster, stronger, more stable connection and a never-ending information stream. However, not only are these infrastructures consuming massive amounts of energy and material, they also consume our time and attention. We need collective ideas of how these infrastructures operate in the future and new dreams about how the next generation of tech looks like. Radio D.I.WHY is a speculative radio show asking what the future of radio looks like. We are hosted on a public, non-commercial, low power FM radio station in Vienna, Austria and New York City, accessible for everyone to contribute.  Feel free to share your stories, ideas, music or other creative projects via our radio! Or join us for a guided workshop where we will build new radio futures based on sustainability, responsiveness, DIY culture, locality, care, belonging, and many more! You name it!
Learn More & Apply

Cool Projects

Indigenous Digital Delegation at MIT
In November, 10 Indigenous media scholars and artists convened at MIT — virtually — for the inaugural Indigenous Digital Delegation. In a week-long series of gatherings, the delegation met with over 60 MIT scientists, staff, fellows, and students. The theme of the gathering was “Indigenous Knowledge, Artificial Intelligence, and Digital Worlds.” “Wisdom is not a topic that is taught or studied in the curriculum in our schools or universities, nor is it a practice in modern life,” said Ojibwe elder, artist, and scholar Duke Redbird, in the delegation’s keynote public lecture, titled “Dish with One Spoon.” “Technology can put a man in space or a nano-computer in every creature on Earth. Yet technology cannot answer this question that should be asked of anything. And it is an Indigenous question: ‘Is it wise?’”
Learn More

Martina of NerdForge Paints a Cyberpunk Cityscape with Glow Paints // NerdForge [Video]
Today I try my best at painting a cyberpunk city using UV and glow in the dark paint, in addition to my regular acrylic paint. What a challenge! And not inspired by the Cyberpunk 2077 hype at all! ;)
Watch Video

This Wild Electric Car Needs Little Charging, Because It Runs Partly on Sunshine // SingularityHub
The car is called the Aptera, and it looks like the Batmobile or Delorian of the future. The car has a 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack, and you can plug it in to charge just like any other electric car. But it also has a solar roof array, called Never Charge, that on a sunny day will add enough energy to the battery for the car to go about 40 miles. There’s an option to put a few more panels on the car’s hood and hatch, which could add up to 24 additional miles of range, according to Car and Driver...
Read More

Gaming, Shows, Books & Other Random Cool Stuff

Frank Herbert's Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 1 [READ]
Dune, Frank Herbert’s epic science-fiction masterpiece set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar society, tells the story of Paul Atreides as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis. A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism, and politics, Dune is a powerful, fantastical tale that takes an unprecedented look into our universe, and is transformed by the graphic novel format. In the first volume of a three-book trilogy encompassing the original novel, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s adaptation retains the story's integrity, and Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín’s magnificent illustrations, along with cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz, bring the book to life for a new generation of readers.
Check It Out

The Midnight Sky / Netflix [WATCH] 
Director George Clooney’s moving and deeply melancholy post-apocalyptic sci-fi imagines him as the last man on Earth. The planet has been evacuated and Augustine (Clooney), a scientist with terminal cancer, is alone with his regrets, manning an observatory in the Arctic Circle. When a silent little girl (Caoilinn Springall) turns up, he is prompted to attempt contact with someone in orbit. Briefly, he reaches a spaceship returning from a mission to the habitable planet of K-23. But the signal is weak, and so Augustine and the girl must trek through a radioactive ice storm to a weather station with a better connection...
Watch Now

Half Life: Alyx (a VR Return to Half Life) // Steam [PLAY]
You are Alyx Vance, and you're about to spark a revolution. You and your father were relocated to City 17. In the years since, you've continued your clandestine scientific activity—performing critical research, and building invaluable tools for the few humans brave enough to defy the Combine. Every day you learn more about your enemy, and every day you work toward finding a weakness. A full-length game built from the ground up for virtual reality..
Check It Out

What I'm Reading

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

Exploring Hidden Navigation for Domestic Violence Sites
by Bob Fornal

Among Us fans are creating stories and skits that expand its world
Ana Diaz

How Civilization Broke Our Brains
Derek Thompson

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