Exploring alternative futures of sex using the double variable scenario method

One of my favourite quotes that relate to the future and technology is “ The best way to predict the future is to invent it” by Alan Kay who said it back in the 1970s when he led a group of luminaries at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Centre). A lot of the computing technologies we enjoy right now from the personal computer, graphical user interface (GUI), what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) editing, local area networking (LAN), the laser printer, optical drives and fibre optics, among other things were pioneered in that lab back in the 1970s and 1980s. We’re still piggy-backing on their ride. We haven’t fundamentally changed computing from how they imagined it back then. We badly need another Xerox PARC equivalent for our times.

Anyway, I’m so delighted to have been acquainted with the double variable scenario method of exploring and imagining possible futures of love in the Interdisciplinary Lab A subject in the Product Design degree I’m doing at UTS. Exploring possible futures with the underlying assumption that the future is not predetermined, while at the same time grounding the explorations on trends and factors in the present lived reality works for me. It’s congruent with my technological realism bias when I view the future.

Kudos to my team of explorers who with me boldly chose sexual futures as the theme we wished to explore. As you can see from the first cut of the quadrant we drafted in yesterday’s seminar, we chose to have a vertical axis of permissive morality/connected community juxtaposed with restrictive morality/disconnected community; and on the horizontal axis of wealthy/high technology juxtaposed with struggling/low technology.

It kinda works but we may have to choose between morality and connectedness; and between economic well-being and technology penetration in the axes. As it stands, it’s kinda a four variable quadrant instead of two. We’ll see where our explorations would lead us.