2 Mar
Event time in Zürich, Switzerland (CET)
Wed, 1 Mar 2023
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Designers’ Roles in Dystopian Futures

Many in the field of interaction design are acutely aware of the societal and ethical implications of technologies we develop, corporates we are a part of and systems we embody. While many of us interaction designers take a keen interest in design and tech ethics and speak up in the face of technology-driven harms, few reflect on our own role in perpetuating these harms, and consequently, our responsibility in mitigating these harms. Speculative fiction narratives in media, especially near future narratives, often have a crossover with science fiction where they depict dystopian worlds that are a result of emerging technology. Many such past dystopian narratives seem less fictional as we develop and deploy potentially harmful technology with limited reflection on its implications. 


In this talk, we will discuss dystopian futures described in fictional narratives across multiple cultures and examine carefully the role of the designers of the system in making these dystopias possible. We will discuss alternate fictional narratives where designers can change the story arch by mitigating potential harms of the said technical systems. We will draw from examples of design activism and design justice. Finally, we will call on the audience to engage with their own current work and think critically about the role they play in perpetuating societal harms and strategies to counteract.

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