2018 Highlights

BY: Danielle Knight

From future(s) of work, to AI-led organisations and post-truth politics, here’s a glimpse of our projects and activities from this year.

In 2018, across so many sectors and industries, the lack of foresight came home to roost. Obstinance and populism reigned in global politics. Scandals shook the tech behemoths, and the IPCC report confirmed what leading climate scientists had been trying to tell everyone for years.

Throughout the year, the need for effective foresight that addresses the spectres of short-termism, risk aversion and institutional conformity became increasingly evident. At Superflux, we worked with organisations across sectors to do just this: actively prototyping multiple possible future worlds that give people the tools to tackle these complex, systemic interdependencies, and build actionable and sustainable future strategies.

 

Stark Choices: Immersing Decision-makers in the Future of Work, Labour & Automation

At the beginning of the year, education charity, the Varkey Foundation, asked us to foreground the connections between education and work. Through our project Stark Choices we took a group of educators, students and decision makers (including former UK Chancellor George Osbourne) through two immersive simulations – one hopeful, one dystopic – exploring the Future of Work and automation.

 Mantis Systems: AI in International Development

In February, we worked with the United Nations Development Program (@undp), Nesta (@nesta_uk) and Bond to explore the question ‘What does the development organisation of the future look like?

Mantis Systems was part strategy, part design and live performance: a speculative international development start-up that harnessed the power of AI to preemptively stop global risk. The provocation stimulated reflection about how organisations are structured, funded, function, and the role of emerging technologies in international development.

The Future Starts Here: 7 Interactive Works and Films for the V&A

The films and interactive works we produced were major features in the V&A’s landmark exhibition. Our works were collectively designed to shape the visitor experience throughout the exhibition, to elicit deeper environmental, sociopolitical and cultural contexts and implications of emerging technologies for the objects on display. The ‘Everything Connects to Everything’ film was screened on a 9 metre wide display in the centre of the gallery and probed the complex ecologies and workings of the global technological and infrastructural networks that we have become so ensnared within.

Mitigation of Shock: Living with Climate Change

In May, we moved house, dismantling the Mitigation of Shock apartment from the CCCB in Barcelona. This apartment – from London around 30 years from now – has been transformed with DIY adaptations for living with the consequences of climate catastrophe. The domestic space is alive with multi-species inhabitants, surviving and thriving together in an indoor microcosm powered by functioning food computers systems made from salvaged materials. Thousands of people walked around the apartment, and experientially immersed themselves in the lived consequences of climate change. Watch this space for where it will pop up next.

Future(s) of Power: Exploring Algorithmic Power & Piloting Citizens’ Assembly

We kicked off the summer with an event for Somerset House, piloting the citizens’ assembly model to explore the issue of Algorithmic Power. Guests Indra Adnan, Stephanie Mathieson and Professor Jun Wang gave quick fire talks and worked with selected citizens to collectively imagine the future consequences of algorithms in governance.

Anab also guest edited Azeem Azhar’s Exponential View building on the theme of alternative democracies, which you can read here.

Trigger Warning

Still reeling from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, we spent much of June and July trawling through 4chan researching misinformation, the future of identity, and culture wars. During the last days of summer, the team could be found masquerading beneath mounds of future artefacts and filming across London as the repercussions of Brexit broke to the surface across the city. The speculative film and props from the production are now showing at the Museum of Discovery, Adelaide. Huge thanks to Nabihah Iqbal for the soundtrack and voiceover. We’ll keep you updated about where to see the film in 2019.

Instant Archetypes: A New Tarot for the New Normal

In November, we launched a Kickstarter for Instant Archetypes our reimagining of the Major Arcana for the 21st century. We were totally blown away by the response. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who supported us. We quadrupled our target and all packs are making their way to the owners. If you’re quick, you can grab a copy from the Somerset House shop. Available soon from other outlets, too.

 

Talks and Things

We’ve been out and about speaking a fair bit this year, and met some wonderful folk along the way. Matt talked about Trust and Invisible Agents at Future Everything in Manchester. Danielle opened the Social Innovation Exchange’s Beyond Imagination conference in Seville. Anab keynoted the annual  IXDA conference with a talk on More-than-Human Centred Design, which she then wrote about for Mozilla. At Design Museum invitation, Anab spoke in UK parliament about Design in Britain alongside Lord Mandelson and Sir Paul Smith.

Catch you all on the flip side.

SUPERFLUX

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Title By Date
2018 Highlights Danielle Knight 21.12.2018
Instant Archetypes: A toolkit to imagine plural futures Nicola 01.11.2018
Cartographies of Imagination Anab City & InfrastructureIoT, Data & Civics 30.09.2018
Tackling the Ethical Challenges of Slippery Technology Anab Autonomous systems 11.06.2018
AI, HUMANITARIAN FUTURES, AND MORE-THAN-HUMAN CENTRED DESIGN Nicola 08.06.2018
The Future Starts Here Danielle Knight 29.05.2018
STUDIO NEWS: POWER, AI AND AIR POLLUTION Jake 09.10.2017
Future(s) of Power Launch Event Anab IoT, Data & Civics 09.10.2017
BUGGY AIR AT DESIGN FRONTIERS Jake City & InfrastructureClimate Change 15.09.2017
Calling all comrades & collaborators! Nicola 14.09.2017
TED 2017: WHY WE NEED TO IMAGINE DIFFERENT FUTURES Anab Autonomous systemsBiotechCity & InfrastructureClimate ChangeIoT, Data & Civics 19.06.2017
CAN SPECULATIVE EVIDENCE INFORM DECISION MAKING? Anab IoT, Data & Civics 31.05.2017
STUDIO NEWS: TED, MAPPING, FOOD COMPUTERS, AND THE FUTURE OF WORK. Jake Autonomous systemsCity & InfrastructureClimate ChangeIoT, Data & Civics 21.04.2017
BACK TO THE FUTURE: WHAT WE DID IN 2016 Jake Autonomous systemsCity & InfrastructureIoT, Data & Civics 31.01.2017
REALITY CHECK: PRESENTING AT UNDP SUMMIT Jon IoT, Data & Civics 06.12.2016
MITIGATION OF SHOCK JOURNAL Jon Autonomous systemsBiotechClimate Change 12.07.2016
STUDIO HAPPENINGS Anab Autonomous systemsClimate ChangeIoT, Data & Civics 04.07.2016
PROFESSORSHIP AT THE UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED ARTS VIENNA Anab 28.06.2016
HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2015 Anab Autonomous systemsCity & InfrastructureIoT, Data & Civics 30.12.2015
SUPERFLUX MAGAZINE, ISSUE 1. Anab Autonomous systems 21.04.2015
THE DRONE AVIARY JOURNAL Anab Autonomous systems 09.04.2015
IOT, DRONES AND SPACE PROBES: ALTERNATE NARRATIVES Anab Autonomous systemsIoT, Data & Civics 01.03.2015
AUTUMN NEWS Jon City & InfrastructureClimate ChangeIoT, Data & Civics 08.11.2014
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES AND DESIGN: AN INTERVIEW WITH SARA HENDREN Anab 07.11.2014
A QUARTERLY UPDATE FROM THE STUDIO Anab Autonomous systemsBiotechCity & InfrastructureIoT, Data & Civics 11.05.2014
IN THE LOOP: DESIGNING CONVERSATION WITH ALGORITHMS Alexis Autonomous systems 04.04.2014
IOTA WINS NOMINET TRUST FUNDING Jon IoT, Data & Civics 25.10.2013
SAILING THE SEAS OF SUPERDENSITY: GUEST POST BY SCOTT SMITH Scott City & Infrastructure 19.10.2013
DNA STORIES: GUEST POST BY CHRISTINA AGAPAKIS Christina BiotechClimate Change 30.09.2013
PRESS RELEASE: DYNAMIC GENETICS VS. MANN Jon Biotech 01.08.2013
AN INTRODUCTION TO INFRASTRUCTURE FICTION: GUEST POST BY PAUL GRAHAM RAVEN Paul City & Infrastructure 24.06.2013
SUPERNEWS, VOL 1. Jon 08.04.2013