Designing Technology for More-Than-Human Futures

Coulton, Paul and Lindley, Joseph (2023) Designing Technology for More-Than-Human Futures. In: The Routledge Companion to Design Research :. Routledge, London, pp. 112-125. ISBN 9781032022277

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The design of computationally enhanced products requiring human interaction is commonly approached through methods that operate within the paradigm of Human Centred Design (HCD). Meanwhile, as still exemplified through Moore's Law, the computational power designers have available to incorporate in their designs has exponentially increased, whilst the cost of this computational power has exponentially decreased. This has resulted in an increased use of computing within an array of products often with the aim of enhancing functionality or automation, and replacing analog or mechanical controls. During the last decade the incorporation of computation into products has been augmented with a huge increase in “networkification” of these devices. This networked capability introduces new product-platform assemblages that are facilitated by the internet and have fundamentally altered our relationships with devices, manufacturers, service providers, regulators, and the interactions between them. One aspect of this change manifests through a disconnection between what products “are and do and the way in which they are presented as things of use”. This decoupling of appearance and function reflects the complex assemblages created through networkification of human and non-human actants who simultaneously operate both independently, and interdependently. Reflecting on the nature of, and resulting impact of, such assemblages demands that a plurality of perspectives be acknowledged within the design process. Such plurality is often incompatible with hubristic interpretations of HCD, which in turn has led a number of design researchers to challenge the primacy of HCD and propose More-Than-Human Design approaches. The More-Than-Human stance requires new perspectives and building blocks for how to consider Design and the Future, in the remainder of this chapter it is those perspectives and building blocks which we explore, before concluding with examples of how such approaches might be enacted through Design Research practice.

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18 Sep 2023 12:50
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16 Jul 2024 05:06