RCA Grand Challenge Finalist, Group Project, 2019/2020
The Grand Challenge is an interdisciplinary project that gives MA students across the RCA's School of Design the opportunity to collaborate with other disciplines.
During the project, we had a chance to work within interdisciplinary teams over four weeks to explore where we might be in the next 50 - 180 years. The challenge brief is expected to reflect our thoughts to the future in the years 2070 - 2200 by designing the concepts of "Enhancing the Human: capability and performance" both in, on, and around the body as a project brief in response to the 180th anniversary of the foundation of RCA.
The final product to be delivered at the end of the project includes a speculative design, a question, or radical changes that can provoke action.
This project consists of two parts. The first part involves creating a concept that will critically address enhancing humanity. These concepts should be created by the groups and later on should be exchanged with the concept of a different group as "a gift" based on chance.
In the second part, the concepts created by someone else should be designed into a speculative product according to the rules that are not making any changes to the original concept.
During the project, we prepared two different design ideas for 1 month with our project tutors at RCA as well as our partner from CERN. At the end of the contest, we managed to take place among the last 10 finalists out of 79 groups and the evaluations made by Logitech and other partners.
As a group, we worked in a very effective way and at a fast pace, furthermore coming from different disciplines and backgrounds helped us a lot to make a result, which can put our ideas forward on how the Earth could be after 200 years.
The first thing expected from us was to come together as a group and then decide on three questions that could help us form our ideas. These three questions we clustered in three different concepts:
How do we enhance communication? The future of communication? (E.g. communicating across species/ communicating through senses & emotions?)
State/ Societal Structure
What is the future of societal structure? How do we define our roles in society? (e.g., when AI/ Robots take over jobs OR we can produce our products?)
How do we progress into death? (e.g., Life expectancy increases - interpersonal relationships become more/ less significant?)
Then we got together as a group and brainstormed on these three questions. After brainstorming through the questions, "Naked Bodies," the project we wanted to work on, has emerged.
Concept: Naked Bodies
"Naked bodies" is a new fashion call. What if everyone becomes naked? From history to the present day, we evaluate and interpret the understanding of fashion both in practice and in critical studies. Therefore, we wanted to do this for 180 years later.
So how could this be possible, and how could we become all naked? Let's take a look at what might happen according to our estimates in 180 years forward.
1950s: The Beginning of Modern Artificial Intelligence
Running on Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) - A.I. that only specialises in ONE area (but excels in that area)
Actualising Artificial Nerve Cells/ Neurons
2030 - 2040:
Achieving Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) - Human Level A.I.
2060 - 2070:
Achieving Artificial Superintelligence (ASI) A.I. Surpassing Human Intelligence
A.S.I. fully integrates into humans’ daily lives
Globalisation - A.S.I. slowly combines all types of human inputs from around the world into one society
The World of Naked Bodies
Introduction: World in 180 years later
As humans become more reliant on Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) for decision-making, A.I. has accelerated to become an independent mechanism where it no longer relies on and replies to humans inputs and needs.
A.I. calculates and determines the best outcome whilst still taking in considerations of the environment and most equal outcome for the human race.
Ultimately leading to a society where everyone is treated equally and they are created equally through going through a rigorous globalisation process.
As the human race has become identical and indistinguishable from their counterparts, the questions of whether self-expression and identity construction in a uniform state is still possible have been raised.
Opportunities to be designed: Collectivist (?) world - Transhuman World? - a world where everyone’s human needs are answered equally - AI makes everyone equal? Creativity - virtual fashion - sustainability? - no need for currency? Other forms of currency? - “knowledge” transfer - augmented reality? Equality - commodify our identity - using fashion/ commodity to self-express -ETHICS
Think, Do, Feel & Sense Beyond the Reality
A.I. & neural networks are able to replicate the human brain perfectly and manipulating the brains through inserting Artificial Nerve Cells.
In 2019, a team of scientists and engineers had successfully created artificial nerve cells where they behave and function as biological neurons where they can carry signals and from the brain to the rest of the body.
Initially created for medical purposes such as tackling Alzheimer's, they have been developed and evolved to be implemented into human brains, which allow humans to think, see, and feel beyond reality collectively.
This allows humans to create and express their own identity in the augmented reality.
Fashion was once a symbol and manifestation of one's social status, wealth, and power. This has revolutionized the fashion industry where trends are abolished; minimising wastage and harm to the environment. Fashion has evolved and unlocked the world of limitless creativity and ideas beyond imagination.
In the world of Naked Bodies, humans are treated equally, and their needs are answered equally by ASI, which overlooks their daily lives. With the implementation of artificial nerve cells in humans, this will allow people to think, see, feel and sense beyond reality and express our individuality through intangible fashion, minimizing wastage while living in harmony with nature.
After completing the Naked Bodies concept study, our group has received a different concept as "a gift" and started working on it for the other half of the Grand Challenge.
Part 2: Receiving the Concept
The scenario of the concept that the other participant group handed us was as follows:
With ongoing issues and problems such as climate crisis, a rise in temperature and sea-level rise has only worsened. In the world of 2100, the United Nations has declared the equator zone to be in an uninhabitable environment for humans due to massive exposure to harmful UV rays as the Ozone layer becomes more depleted, resulting in a mass environmental migration of people moving away from the equator zone and towards colder areas in the North and South regions.
To proceed in line with the concept we took, we prepared a timeline based on this scenario. In this timeline, we have drawn the possible scenario that can take place from 2000 to 2100, exemplifying the actual events that are taking place today.
2000’s RISE IN TEMPERATURE
2020’s THE WATER SCARCITY
2030’s /2040’s ENVIRONMENTAL MIGRANT - OVERCROWDING
2050’s - DECREASE IN BIODIVERSITY
2070’s DROUGH AND FAMINE
2080’s MASS EXTINCTION
2100’s DROWNING NATIONS:
The sea level is raised by 216 feet, where it has created new shorelines around the continents. For instance, London is now underwater, and the land size has been decreased drastically worldwide. This has resulted in a mass environmental migration of people moving away from the equator zone and towards colder areas in the North and South regions, leading to overpopulation.
While some parts of the world dry out, others will be inundated. Densely populated and low-lying areas are at the highest risk of being flooded as those areas are less able to adapt to rising sea levels; especially areas which are already facing other challenges such as tropical storms. (IPCC)
Ideation: Enhanced Mangroves
Mangroves are shrub and tree species that live in saltwater; they thrive in the equator zone's tropical and subtropical climate. Each mangrove part has distinctive functions, such as storing carbon dioxide and filtering saltwater. Mangrove forests are habitats full of animals such as egrets, pelicans, crabs, and more, making it the perfect candidate for restoring the Earth.
Mangroves as a possible solution to rehabilitate the now devastated equator zone and Earth with newly formed shorelines. Let's see how mangroves heal the world in order.
Xenobots: A Combination of A.I. & Biology
Xenobots plays an important role in easing ordinary people with little to no knowledge into the lifestyle based on mangrove forests.
Xenobots are a combination of artificial intelligence (A.I.) and biology, a.k.a living robots that repurpose animal and organic matter and can be programmed to perform certain tasks that can not only assist with reforesting mangroves but also perform daily tasks for humans.
The World in 2200
With the help of enhanced mangroves and reforestation of mangrove forests, humanity has restored the Earth back to a habitable condition and created an ecosystem based on a sustainable symbiosis between humans and nature.
Project made with Chengyi Tu (MA Textiles), Maximilian Sirtl (MA Design Products),
Millicent Wong (MA /MSc Global Innovation Design), Yan Han (MA Fashion).