As recent technological advancement became more and more pervasive and sophisticated, its consequences became more dramatically evident. In this context, design takes on a new relevance, in organizing and managing spaces, individuals, relations and ultimately societies. But if this is clear, several questions have to be answered: Who is driving it, who are the participants, who are sitting around the table? Does spatial design currently have a say in this, and if not, how can it participate and intervene
While working on the theme of V51 we did not only learn new facts on technology, but we were also confronted by the different ways in which technology is perceived, especially from certain architectural communities.
In the last post, we stated our intention to map the field of technology and to dig deeper in certain areas. After discussing possible categories we focused on evaluating the critical tools at hand to craft V51, in particular questioning the efficacy of mapping.
Once upon a time technology was a word to define all those tools that humans used to do things, being them compasses or cranes. As technology became ubiquitous and much more complex the term acquired a much vaguer meaning: it started to indicate the very condition we live in. Perhaps the previous use was too partial, I agree. But when DNA can be edited with a software, Internet is supported by satellite infrastructure, cars can drive themselves and Google knows your routine better than your own friends; where do you start speaking about technology? and in relation to architecture?
Design is, by definition, inhuman. We humans design, yet we do not, cannot really, at least not yet, design humans. Yet the boundaries of contemporary design increasingly encroach upon the real. The design of fleshy bodies, genetics, entire species, landscapes, territories, and even planets are becoming no longer mere fantasies. But do we really know how to design, to think, to be creative, to be careful, to be responsible, to be innovative, to be progressive both at and between such scales?
While the Istanbul Biennial questions ‘Are We Human?’, Volume explores the post-human world of Artficial Intelligence and Machine Learning. It’s not about the future, not about promise, it’s very much about the here and now. Please join us coming Friday (October 28) for an informal gathering at Post Office, Rotterdam to exchange on this life changing topic.
The data-saturated environment we live in today was already there almost half a century ago; it’s just that the nature of data has changed. Data used to be much more spatial, more architectonic, and the means of locating oneself in, and navigating through, such a space could be revealed by architectural theory and critique. With data only penetrating deeper into our cognitive realm by the day, what is there for architecture to say?
To see housing as a fundamental human right is a relatively new concept with consequences for law, justice and politics. In issue 46: Shelter, Volume published Abla el Bahrawy’s quick scan of the first formulation of this universal right and its further development into an action agenda in consecutive UN-Habitat conferences to promote and secure this right globally.
Machines need to learn to be able to act on their own. It’s a debatable question whether we want, or need, machines to do so, but the trend toward automation, is undeniable. Autonomous machines are being trusted with increasing responsibility in maintaining and providing for contemporary society, and we are finally finding out what happens to the human after the machines take over.
The concept of the ‘tipping point’ is a properly Cartesian understanding of history. It not only presumes that there is such a thing as ‘before’ and ‘after’, but also that we will be able to recognize and identify its difference to a single moment in time. This used to work, when historical events were things like wars, and we could organize our collective energies to effect the course of history. But now that events take place at the speed of light and even at a quantum level, how can we know when we’re already past where?