Building the Utopia (mom, I want to become a tree)
I’m kinda crazy about the idea of creating a perfect society, perfect place. I imagine it as some range of carefully designed rules and environments, which allow people to communicate effectively, work productively and be happy in general.
However, just as there is a reason which does not allow the perpetuum mobile to exist, there is one for utopic societies to fail. All detailed, thoughtful descriptions of utopic governments inevitably become scary: Platon recommended to separate people in groups according to their birth and to punish harshly every attempt to switch; Tomas Mor’s idea reminds a consentration camp in general. When you go from a basic “I wish everyone to be happy” idea to details about the best way to do it and protect it, — you are bound to create some monstrous suggestions you thought you are unable to.
The reason behind this is the fact that we cannot design human beings. All we can do is create some environment, some interaction design, and then sit and hope that it will work out as planned, and when it doesn’t — designer’s job is to analyse what went wrong, and design better. No matter how perfect your idea will be, people will come and make the changes of their own. It’s a constant dialogue, and you have to be open to it.
However, something is changed in recent years, which still gives me hope: artificial intelligence and parametric design. In some way these things can bring us closer to nature, to its understanding of perfection. A tree doesn’t have a defined example to become; yet still, it has some basic principles to follow, using the constant input from outer environment to shape itself accordingly — but following its own goal. As we shifted from monologue form of creation (I make, you watch, accept or not) to dialogue form (I make and test, you suggest, I remake), we can now shift to the natural form, the pure co-creation.
Creating algorithms which will allow us to be in constant connection with our environment to grow accordingly to it — but in our own, unique way — that’s the future design.