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Design Philosophy for Things That Change

Research project The purpose of this project is to develop a design philosophy for things that change: a philosophical and aesthetical foundation that forms and informs a design practice capable of conceptually handling the complexity of the evolving sociotechnical landscapes we now create using networked computational technology.

It is crucially important to address foundational questions regarding the role of innovative technologies and systems in human affairs. One of the central issues for design and innovation with respect to the networked computational things that are now at the forefront of technological research and development is therefore that we develop an ability to match technological drive with the conceptual and methodological developments that are required in order to make sense of them—and their consequences—at human scale.

Head of project

Heather Wiltse
Associate professor
E-mail
Email

Project overview

Project period:

2018-07-01 2022-12-31

Project description

The purpose of this project is to develop a design philosophy for things that change: a philosophical and aesthetical foundation that forms and informs a design practice capable of conceptually handling the complexity of the evolving sociotechnical landscapes we now create using massively networked computational technology, artificial intelligence and similar technologies that allow us to create things, services and systems that change over time in response to our actions.

The things we live with are changing in significant ways—changing their own forms and functions dynamically over time and across contexts; changing the ways we relate to things and what we expect of them; changing the ways they relate to each other; and changing our practices in relation to them. They are, in many senses, changing things.

Understanding the character and scope of these changes is an important challenge, arguably one of the next big challenges for design and related fields. And changing things in directions that are amenable to human flourishing and desirable forms of life is an associated challenge and responsibility that we now face.

There is, then, both tremendous opportunity and responsibility when it comes to making sense of this landscape of changing things, and finding and articulating the foundations that can support responsible innovation, education, and research in relation to them. This requires thinking in new ways—building on existing perspectives to be sure, but also recognising when they break down and no longer adequately account for things that are qualitatively different from what has gone before.

In order to see and understand the new, it will not do to think only in terms of the old. We need new conceptual frames, methodological approaches, and discursive strategies within design, philosophy, and the social sciences in order to do justice to what is at stake and urgently calls for our attention and care.