What is the nature of design, and the meaning it holds in human life? What does it mean to design well -- to design ethically? How can the shaping of technology reflect our values as human beings? How might technology elevate us through tools designed for human creativity? The keynote presentation takes the audience through a journey through the design of everyday tools, musical instruments, toys, and social experiences, while contemplating the ways in which we shape technology -- and how technology, in turn, shapes our society and ourselves.
Ge Wang is an Associate Professor at Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). He researches artful design of tools, toys, games and social experiences. Ge is the architect of the ChucK music programming language, director of the Stanford Laptop Orchestra, co-founder of Smule and designer of the Ocarina and Magic Piano apps for mobile phones. He is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow and the author of Artful Design: Technology in Search of the Sublime (2018), a photo comic book about the ethics and aesthetics of shaping technology.
By necessity as well as desire, people move and act in space. Our feet carry us from place to place along paths, just as our minds carry us from idea to idea along paths. The same brain structures that underlie places and paths underlie ideas and relations. We talk that way, too; I just did. Our hands place, raise, lower, put together, take apart, turn over push, pull, and throw objects. Our minds and our talk do the same with thoughts. Our minds allow us to take different perspectives on the paths in space, on the relations among ideas, on actions on objects. That turns out to be the key to creativity.
Barbara Tversky, professor of psychology and education at Columbia Teachers College and professor of psychology emerita at Stanford University, is known for her groundbreaking examination of spatial thinking and language, event perception and cognition, extended mind, and gesture. Tversky’s research has explored areas as diverse as art, architecture, design, comics, visualizations, and maps. Her work has expanded understanding of the ways visual communications, including gestures and diagrams, use place and marks in space to express meaning more directly than language. Such communication fosters broader concepts including storytelling, description, and explanation. During her distinguished career, Tversky has collaborated with linguists, neuroscientists, computer scientists, designers, engineers, biologists, geographers, chemists, and artists. She recounts some of this journey in a book that she is currently finishing titled Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought (Basic Books, 2019).
"Late twentieth-century machines have made thoroughly ambiguous the difference between natural and artificial, mind and body, self-developing and externally designed, and many other distinctions that used to apply to organisms and machines. Our machines are disturbingly lively, and we ourselves are frighteningly inert."" - Donna Haraway. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature.
The boundaries that Haraway lamented in 1990 were further eroded by the World Wide Web, wireless networks, smartphones, and today by social media, fake news, claims about Artificial Intelligence and an impending "Singularity". Are all boundaries truly illusionary? Or can we question illusions of illusion by actively asserting boundaries between ourselves and our machines? Artistic collaborators Shlain and Goldberg will describe how their art projects and experiences with technology are leading them to rediscover old barricades.
Tiffany Shlain and Ken Goldberg collaborate on films, artworks, events, and biological experiments. They met in San Francisco in 1997, the year Tiffany founded the Webby Awards and Ken founded UC Berkeley's Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium. Tiffany is a filmmaker and author who has received over 80 awards and distinctions including premieres at The Sundance Film Festival. Her new book about technology and humanity will be published in September by Simon & Schuster. Ken is an artist, inventor, and roboticist on the faculty at UC Berkeley. Ken and his students have published 300 peer-reviewed papers, 9 US patents, and 70 art installations.