I wrote a paper called ‘The Mirage’ for a conference about the future of design and engineering education last year that I feel is as relevant at the moment, to sum up, the world and GID’s place in it. Here is an excerpt:
Likes, hashtags and memes have been reappropriated into reality shifting weapons. And the new weapons – deepfakes, VoCo, language modeling algorithms – are more powerful still. We will need equally strong tools to fight them. Critical thought built on evidence is one of the antidotes and it needs to be the role of the designer and engineer to foster it and thus fight against The Mirage.
This opaque future presents new opportunities for designers and engineers: a market for clarity. We increasingly need to encourage skepticism around our institutions as well as develop tools for validation and verification. Questions like how we build authority through trust will be essential at the organizational level and how we build trust in technology will be essential at the technical level. The ethical and philosophical choices we make now will determine not just the cohesion of people’s realities, they will inform our ability to prevent global crises. As Yuval Harari says, “Philosophers have been preparing for this moment for thousands of years.” The next generation of designers and engineers must be equipped and willing to be part of that discussion. As such, these questions need to be a part of design and engineering education or we not only risk losing a shared baseline of reality but the capacity to surmount the problems we as a species face.