Sparks for a Social Future

Sparks for a Social Future

Abstract

Society as we know it collapsed twenty years ago. The world population is halved, ruled by only one united government, resources are limited and have to be divided equally. The world through the decades saw extremities of human ego, exploitation, consumerism and these led to the largest systemic breakdown in human history.

The year is 2070, and finally there are rays of hope. The horrors of the past seem to fade away, like a far away memory, but it's effects seem lasting, like deep rooted scar. Society is building up again. Will the patterns that kill them repeat? Or will they learn from their mistakes this time? Will they have to be forced into a lifestyle? Or will they themselves lead a changed life? What are these new found rays of hope? This is a speculative study into the concepts and ideas of products that could shape such a
society.


What does the world look like?

An ever expanding world can only expand so much. To keep up with an ever-expanding consumer market, resources, both of the Earth and human, were exploited. After years of systemic exploitation, some countries decided that they did not want to be a part of this system any more. Protests broke loose and soon everything became anarchy. Shops were broken into, property destroyed. Humans had become humanity’s biggest enemy. There were no systems anymore. After a few years of this collapse, a few people came together to form a new order. Governed by laws, not laws created to feed greed, but laws governed by the concept of need. They put together systems of governance, where sustainability was the norm, and socialistic views were embraced. A highly social and functioning ne order, that soon
started attracting more and more people, until it became the newfound governing body.


The question

With the new order in place the looming questions are these: Have humans learnt from the past? Are they motivated enough to work towards being more social to each other and the environment? Or will the order or government have to enforce laws that control people to keep their behaviours in check or to train them in a particular model?


Two worlds

Based on how humans would react to this new situation, we see a possibility of the formation of two different type of worlds: One looking utopian, and the other dystopian. The utopian one is where people are self motivated to help each other, act more social, and bring about a change from how things used to go on long ago. This would see products being developed which people would embrace to help them in this quest of making the world a more social place. On the other hand, a second reaction is possible, wherein people still don’t learn from their pasts and continue on their same destructive paths. The government is then left with no option but to enforce laws that check the behaviour of the citizen, and ‘force’ them to be social. Products developed here would be based on a public shaming, restricting, controlling or a punishment model. Let us now look at what these product
concepts might look like.


Products that shape the two worlds

Utopian - social hats, energy sharing, rational assistant, moody coffee-machine
Dystopian - redressing menu, stingy water tap, conscious door, reflective lights.


Our process

Our process started with outlining what our strengths and interests were, and what we wanted out of this project. We then went on to do a literature study to understand holistically what speculative design was, and went on a search for inspiration: both on ideas for a speculative intervention, and for topics that intrigued, concerned, or interested us. We arrived at a list of problems that humanity faced today and tried to trace what the root cause was.

That’s when we arrived at the term ‘Ego’. We then discussed extensively on what ‘ego’ meant, how and why it started and whether the levels of ego today is healthy or not. We then went on to do an extensive session of scenario building, which started with watching the “Blade runner” and analyzing the film in it's setting. We then went on to extensively script our scenario and work toward building products for the scenario. In between we realized and tweaked the project little by little, from changing the word ‘ego’ to ‘individualism’, to trying to draw parallels between biomimicry and products learning human behaviours. As we went along the process we got so caught up in the process of ideation, and conceptualization, that we didn’t take hard decisions and finalize in detail about one single product. And hence we decided to explore a variety of products to better understand our scenario from all angles. And so here we are, ended up with 8 different product ideas, fitting into 2 major predictions of how the future of the world might look like.


The Punctual Door

Be on time, or you’ll lose the whole day. The govt. forces people to develop punctuality while reconstructing society. Depending on when you need to leave the house, the door locks and unlocks itself in fixed time frames.


Social Hats

In this virtually connected world, it is a lonely feeling to be physically-socially disconnected.
Social hats is a series of hats that recognize the presence of similar hats around and forces the users to interact, helping break the ice.


Magnanimous Power Grid

Truly social in it's spirit, the world of energy is now revolutionized as people create their own energy and based on their needs, the power grid distributes the excess energy to those who don’t have as much.


The Rational Smart Assistant

Smart Assistants have now evolved to be able to read your emotional levels based on your speech and breathing patterns, and will assist you to make rational decisions when you can’t think straight.


Moody Coffee Machine

As an attempt to self check politeness and behaviour, the moody coffee machine emulates the human nature of mood swings and responds only if treated with care and respect.


The Redressive Menu

Setting boundaries for meat-lovers and exploitative eaters, the Redressive Menu adjusts the prices of its items based on the user’s history of meat and food consumption.


Stingy Water Tap

In an attempt to check water usage, each person now has only a fixed amount of water per day to use. Water taps are designed to stop functioning after a limit.


Reflective Lights

We’ve heard of lights being reflective. But what if they were reflective of your behaviour? Here is a lighting system that changes hues and feel depending on the morality of the person walking under it.