Exercise 5: Reflect, Critique, and Document

Gabriel Mitchell
Dec 14, 2016 · 2 min read

Final Reflection Play Lab 2016

The Nes.0!

In this short film I wanted to express my concerns about a future where the information of things and chat-bots merge. To the point where your everyday appliances might actually have a personality. A feature that actually might sound enticing at first glance. I wanted to express just how ridiculous it might be to spend your day interacting and chatting with an inanimate object. This can become especially dangerous when the object can converse in a very human type manner, using common interfaces you use to also chat with your friends and family (real people). A conversational interface might create just enough separation that texting your coffee maker “goodnight” might not seem that odd.

What is the role of designers in this possible future? Has it come about through design, or through external factors?

Designers play a pivotal role in a future where chat interfaces/bots are abundant and applied to almost every product we interact with in our day to day lives. While it might seem that being able to talk to your appliances could enable a more productive lifestyle, it could get out of hand very quick. In my video above I express a very extreme version of this potential future. The contrast between the quick shots of physical actions and the long shots of the chat interfaces, convey the amount of time one might end up focusing on conversations that don’t matter. Designers sit at the threshold between the user and the product. They will have the ability to weigh in on the future interactions we have with the world around us. The solution I have proposed above, applies a very powerful technology to a very simple device. When these technologies become more readily available and applicable to consumer products, it is going to be up to designers to navigate a way to find practical applications for bots. When should personality be applied to plastic? Does the coffee taste better when you make it yourself? Why do coffee shops still exist? These are questions designers must always be asking.

Are the designers in this world acting within the story or scenario, or acting to oppose it? What could a common brief be for a designer in this world?

The designers in this scenario have used conversational interfaces naively. They have created an relationship between the user and the product that ideally would create greater value and personalization but it ironically makes the user more detached from the world they live in. Designers would be challenged to find the most practical applications for chat bot technologies. Rather than slapping them on any and every product out there, chat bot technology should be used respectfully and thoughtfully.

Reflect on your speculation

I believe that this sort of future is inevitable one way or another, to the extreme that I have created? Maybe not. I’m interested in a future where information can be easily passed from one person to the next. I’m also interested in creating a future where conversational interface technology will benefit and foster more fluid experiences.

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