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FFF Seminar: Autonomous technology and the paradox of human-centered design

Time: Fri 2020-12-04 13.00

Location: Zoom

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We are living in the midst of a digital transformation of society. Yet, design practice struggles to reconcile human values and algorithmic logics into socially, economically and politically sustainable models. Designers lack the knowledge, skills and roles to design for interaction with autonomous technologies in ways actually beneficial to humankind, and thus to responsibly anticipate this transformation. Imagining and manifesting alternative futures cannot be an afterthought—it has to be a proactive effort.

In her talk, Giaccardi argues for the urgent need to raise critical questions about the ways in which we design in the post-industrial age and to develop radically new design sensibilities, frameworks and methodologies. For this to happen, ‘agency’ should be positioned as foundational to our understanding and crafting of autonomous technologies as was once the notion of ‘function' to our understanding of tools.

The talk is devised as a perspective unfolding out of a few recent publications by the speaker, which have attempted to organize and bring to maturity these thoughts.

When: Friday 4 December 13-14 CET


Elisa Giaccardi is Professor in Interaction Design at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, where she leads the Connected Everyday Lab. From 2018 to 2020, she was also Visiting Professor in Post-industrial Design at the Umeå Institute of Design, Sweden. After pioneering work in metadesign, collaborative and open design processes, her recent research engages with digital things in new ways, with the starting point that contemporary things now hold both perception and possible agency, and thus participate in design and use in ways that previous industrially produced objects could not.

Elisa is director of the MSc Design for Interaction at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering. She is also founding member of AiTech, the Delft University of Technology campus-wide initiative for responsible design and engineering of AI systems, and coordinator of the European innovative training network D-CoDE on designing for/with AI.

Elisa Giaccardi