Speculating on future democracy

The MSc Design program at Linköping University has three semester-long studio courses, and the third one is devoted to sociotechnical intervention. This normally takes the form of a participatory design project, but the pandemic restrictions required some adaptions.

In the fall of 2021, the second-year MSc Design students engaged in speculative design on the future of democracy. The task was to create a speculative design concept addressing a significant topic in the development of democracy, and to present the concept in a video scenario. Here are the results.

Two of the teams focused on ecological sustainability, and specifically the equitable distribution of shared resources. This is certainly an important perspective on future democracy; interestingly, both teams speculated on the need for rather firm governance (and its consequences) in order to stay within reasonable boundaries.

New Horizon is a smart home system limiting private consumption, currently being tested in a pilot version. How does the rational calculation of consumption allowance hold up to personal, idiosyncratic motifs?

Link to video.

By Lorenzo Ambrosini, Jekaterina Basjuka, Amelie Christensen, Martyna Jach, and Clara Schumacher.

Decisions on resource governance and land use may be too complex for mere humans. The task of the EDEN system is to participate in decision making with a long-term sustainability perspective based on vast data collection and AI forecasting.

Link to video.

By Lina Billman, Xinyao Feng, Michael Sandberg, Gabriele Tripi, and Rebecka Walfridson.

Another aspect of future democracy that attracted the attention of two student teams was gendered power structures.

The Whispering Wall is an urban development project aimed at combatting sexual harassment in the street by making visible the transgressions and making the victims’ voices heard.

Link to video.

By Charlotte Bertzen, Xianjing Dai, Jana Raschdorf, and Mustafa Terzioglu.

In a future matriarchy, women’s menstruation blood has been found to be a source of regenerative powers for the menstruator herself. Sheera Energy now launches a convenient and efficient system for harvesting these powers on the go.

Link to video.

By Melika Boustan, Xinyue Ouyang, Rebecca Thiel, and Yidi Zhang.

Finally, one team focused on rich and equally accessible interpersonal communication as one of the foundations for the development of democracy.

Animo is a wearable technology that enables multimodal telepathic communication.

Link to video.

By Linus Pettersson, Katarina Rosén, Erika Wiktorsson, and Heyi Zhao.

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Interaction designer, teacher and researcher. Works at Linköping University, Sweden.

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Jonas Löwgren

Interaction designer, teacher and researcher. Works at Linköping University, Sweden.