The Future Mundane #5

the designer’s role in the future

In this future where Google holds an even bigger presence, I imagine that designers would go along with this idea and try their best to improve or maybe even change the way we absorb information for the better. Although the micro-future I saw with Google’s search engine seems to primarily be about Google becoming more social, and changing how our searches are influenced, I also wanted to tackle the concerns people have about the research that shows that we don’t remember what we’ve searched but we remember where we got the information.

I‘m convinced that Google already thought about something like this and how it might be in the very near future — at least following what people search (I’m not too sure about the information retaining). In this future, designers would be for the design and are interested in improving or influencing the social culture. I don’t think this future that plays out doesn’t necessarily have an issue with ethics, but with privacy. Presently, Google already has information that’s linked to your gmail about what you search, what you read, what you watch, etc. I don’t know how many people actually are aware of this fact, but I think that people would feel more exposed if they see that a profile is attached to what they search, which is essentially what the new Google does.

Going back to the designer’s role in this future, designers would still be striving to design for the betterment of society. Much like today — at least that’s what I hope today’s designers strive for. So I think this is a future that we may already be moving towards.

As a designer, I wouldn’t mind a future where Google is even more present in our lives. But I would miss the more tangible ways of doing things like meeting up with people (compared to just talking to them over social media) or studying in the more conventional way (instead of Google reminding you multiple times to remember a piece of information you thought you wanted to know). I’m constantly imagining a future where technology has a bigger presence in our lives and we rely on it more and more. I don’t know if I’d want to be a part of that kind of future where technology surrounds us — hopefully we are or will be wise enough to design things in ways that wouldn’t allow us to lose the human touch and intimacy within our relationships. Technology has already changed the way we socialize with each other and the way we learn and has gotten us adapted to its system of communication and thinking.

So how can we change this whole system to become less reliant on technology?

I honestly don’t know because we’ve already come to rely on technology a lot. Say for instance, how I was inspired for this project, how I did my research, how I thought about things, they all revolved around technology, showing that it has changed the way we (or at least I) have come to think about problems and to some degree, how to solve them. So for me, to have a future that is filled with technology but with people who use technology in moderation would be ideal. And how can designers steer us into that path? I think that right now, we’re moving in a positive direction but designers need to be constantly reminded of or reflect on their design ethos and ethics— why they’re designing what they’re designing and how they’re designing it (by what means).

Through this exercise of looking into the future and considering how designers play a role in the bigger picture, my eyes were opened to see that we (designers) really can make a difference in a larger scale, just as business men and women or politicians can. And in order to become that influential force, we need to know what kind of designers we want to be — addressing the future we want — and in what ways we want to create an impact on the people around us. Because as big as the role technology plays in our lives, I believe that we will ultimately come back to each other and find value in the relationships we have and create, and always look to each other for inspiration for the future.