Transcript

00:01When Bill Miller asked me to give this talk at the end of the conference, I was naturally flattered and challenged…

00:09…and I readily agreed. And then he said, "By the way, I'd like you to call it, The Future of Geodesign."

00:16And I immediately started regretting my decision.

00:20And I spent some time thinking about it and I decided the very first thing I would do was add an S, because I think it's…

00:29…cosmologically true that there really is only one past, but there really are multiple futures.

00:37And I want to talk about that in a range of ways that are I hope, either entertaining or provocative…

00:44…or at least in the time allotted. And I'm well aware of the potential flaws in making predictions.

00:55I know Ken Olsen's from 1977 well, and maybe some of you have also heard about the nuclear powered vacuum…

01:01…cleaners that would be a reality in 10 years.

01:03I will try and steer away from either of these kinds of outrageous claims, but I'll stick a few in nonetheless.

01:15I thought one approach, of course, would be to talk about some commendments. I've got a plan for the future of geodesign.

01:21And that is tempting, and I might, but that seems a little bit much and the prescriptive mode is not as interesting…

01:32…to me for this purpose as the probabilistic mode that I want to adopt here.

01:39Although, design, of course, is always about drawing a line in the sand and sticking your neck out…

01:45…and I'll do that in a few ways too, I think.

01:48Then I thought, well, Southern California, surely what we need is a movie trailer, but I realized that I would…

01:57...need to know the movie before I could make the trailer, and so, I give you only a glimpse of the poster…

02:02…here for next year's required ware.

02:08And it was in August, and I was kind of getting concerned about getting this started before the semester came…

02:15…and would evaporate three months out of my time.

02:18And Hurricane Irene was working its way up the coast, and I was watching some of the late night weather predictions…

02:25…and I realized that I very much admire the combination of making predictions that have some risk, coupled with…

02:32…some real impact, and some very geospatial content, and even some pretty cool graphics from time to time.

02:42And it seems to me that this idea about cones, or zones, or pyramids of probability, is a very useful way of looking at…

02:52…the future and thinking about the future.

02:56And it reminded me of a slide that I've seen a few times, and I trust others in the audience have as well, Carl Steinitz's notion…

03:03…that there is a singular past time at a present moment which expands into a universe of too many alternate futures…

03:16…and that, of course, the geodesigner's task often is to thread a path through here to make one more probable than the rest.

03:24I think that's the challenge that we have as we think about designing geodesign, is sorting through all the many…

03:30…possible futures here and picking one, or at least a couple candidates that we'd like to make more likely…

03:36…and then figuring out the path, or paths that might lead to that increased probability.

03:43And doing my necessary Wikipedia research on futures and futurology, I was reminded, in this case, actually, of this…

03:51…idea that future studies might use the rubric of three P's and a W. The possible, the probable and the preferable futures.

04:01And wildcards, low probability, but high-impact events.

04:05And this also seemed like a useful rubric for organizing what was now beginning to be a set of, yes, sticky notes on my…

04:13…computer screen, as well as other kinds of thoughts that I was trying to organize in this process.

04:20So here we go. I have a range of things that are either prescriptions, or predictions, or probabilities, more or less…

04:29…that are on my mind, having thought about this.

04:33It's possible, in my view, that geodesign will be remembered as nothing but a marketing buzzword, or what we heard…

04:40…earlier today, a crisis terminology branding of uncertain meaning from the dawn of the 21st century.

04:47I consider that low probability, but it's a possibility, to be sure.

04:52More likely, in my view, is that, indeed, geodesign will evolve and mature as a useful fusing of GIScience, about which we've…

05:00…heard a fair amount, and design, about which I don't think we've heard enough yet, actually.

05:06I think that's part of the conversation that we have to continue to have with response to Boykin's and others.

05:12What does it mean when you fuse these things? 'Cause it's not obvious, by any means.

05:21I consider it probable that geodesign will not, undoubtedly, inherit the kind of cloudy, fuzzy boundary, definitional…

05:29…vagaries that, for example, have plagued landscape architecture forever. What is landscape architecture anyway?

05:35Is there a difference between planning and design? Or what does scale matter?

05:39And these are familiar, and I think in the end, cosmologically intractable discussions.

05:46And I think it's fine that we will continue to talk about this if we can use it as a way of probing deeper in understanding.

05:54I consider it unlikely that any agreed-upon definition will emerge. My colleague, Mike Flaxman's is relatively widely…

06:03…quoted in the literature these days. And I like it.

06:07I think it's crisp and I understand it, but it doesn't capture a couple of things that for me, for today, are important.

06:17And I want to make sure that we include digital, because for me, that's actually one of the watershed things that's at work here.

06:24I do not think that Frank Lloyd Wright and Frederick Law Olmsted were doing geodesign.

06:28I think they were doing important work from which we have learned and upon which we are building.

06:33But for my purposes, if it happened before about 1970, it wasn't geodesign.

06:40And I'm going to say a little bit more about systems thinking, which I think is an important component of this…

06:50…in the discussion well enough, and I want to resurface it.

06:56I should mention by the way, that as a child of the '60s as I am, I was a member, perhaps an advocate, of the appropriate…

07:06…technology movement. Does anybody remember it? Yeah, appropriate technology? Yeah.

07:10So you know that appropriate technology was this idea that given a problem, there were some technologies that…

07:16…were more appropriate than others to be applied.

07:19And in general, low-tech that we learned about, that vise grips were probably more appropriate than robots…

07:26…and that various other kinds of agriculture were better than recombinant DNA, and so on.

07:32This was a very ideological position. And I took it, and I actually moved through some change in my own thinking.

07:40I remember quite literally, an article by Steven Baer in the CoEvolution Quarterly, in which he talked about…

07:46…computer satellites and lasers as the epitome of inappropriate technology.

07:50I'm here to tell you today they are absolutely essential for what we are doing in my definition of geodesign for the now.

07:56They are appropriate technology.

08:00A certainty is a very large number. It's been cited a couple of times already in the conference.

08:07You guys have been conservative thinking about nine billion people on the planet.

08:11I think in this anthropocene era that we are entering, 10 billion is probably realistic.

08:17And it is for these people that we do geodesign. It's not for the trees, or the hydrological systems, or the atmosphere.

08:24It's for the 10 billion people that are our inheritors of what we do.

08:30And that's an important piece of this, 'cause it means there's a whole bunch of technology that comes from anthropology…

08:36…and sociology, and other things like that, we might learn and, indeed, embed in what we do as…

08:43These images, by the way, are made by a pseudo statistically scientific method of taking a number of racial…

08:50…prototypes and overlaying them in Photoshop to get a sort of an average person.

08:56The average person, according to National Geographic, is a 28-year-old male Han Chinese somewhere over here.

09:04And it is absolutely certain to me that a lot of geodesign in the future, will be on the Asian continent…

09:09…'cause that's where the action is and where a good percentage of those 10 billion people are going to be.

09:18And they can use it. The emergent environment throughout the world is in trouble in a lot of ways, and none more visibly…

09:29…at least in my recent experience, than some parts of China.

09:35And at the same time, China is a place with boundless imagination and potential, and figuring out how to tap into that…

09:44…and overcome the many issues of environmental and other kinds of problems that have to be tackled there…

09:51…is part of the grand challenge that we have ahead of us.

09:55Some work from one of our student, recent studios, looking at a combination of sustainable agriculture with new…

10:02…transit-oriented urbanization in the expanding regions of Beijing is, I think, typical of the kind of work that's…

10:11…going to have to be done. And it's probable that much geodesign is going to be urban.

10:17The greenfields, and even the brownfields that we've talked about, are simply not the majority of the Earth's population…

10:24…with nearly two-thirds…and here, for example, is Mumbai, which needs some geodesign, and which the

10:29…GSD and lots of other places are beginning to look at and work with, and in.

10:38And this, couple of things have happened in the two months that I've been thinking about this and working on this…

10:44…in early December, the TED Prize was announced.

10:47I don't know if any of you noticed this, not for a person, but indeed, to this concept of the city 2.0.

10:54Because urbanization is one of the century's biggest issues.

10:56And over the next 90 years, we will build more urban living space than all prior centuries combined.

11:01We had better get it right, and that's the imperative for geodesign.

11:06I note that the Rotterdam Architecture BNL is going to have esteemed exhibition on smart cities…

11:15…and on which one of our Harvard student's projects will be displayed.

11:21And I note the emergence of the term U-city, or ubiquitous city, which is a city or region with ubiquitous…

11:28…information technology. That's why I stuck it in my definition partly, 'cause it's a game-changing thing.

11:34We're all immersed in it and we may not have noticed how game-changing it is, but if we remember back to the AT time…

11:41…or the pre-'70s time, and think about this really…this is some…this is not just a tool, it's a medium in a way…

11:50…and it's also transformative in ways that are important.

11:52We can't just pretend that the pencil isn't going to be part of the design, because the technology is part…

11:57…of what we're designing these days, and designing with.

12:02And absolutely certain, I heard Margaret Mead say this first 35 years ago at the UN Habitat Conference in Vancouver…

12:09…"Water." We've heard it a couple of times already in this conference, and there's no doubt that it's going to get worse…

12:15…before it gets any better. And this is going to be a major, major consideration, whether it's the shortage, a purity…

12:23…and availability of it, or the excess of it in the wrong place at the wrong time, that is confounding what we have to do.

12:31And how we manage this distribution of water and other resources in three dimensions across the geoscape is indeed…

12:41…the principle task as I see it, of geodesign in the future.

12:47And probable, in my view, is that public health and environmental health will increasingly be part of…

12:53…what we do and what we have to do.

12:55This hearkens back to Frederick Law Olmsted's motivations in many parts, in cases, and Central Park, and others…

13:02…to the origins of GIS in thinking about the Well and, indeed, recent publications such as Dick Jackson's…

13:10…Designing Healthy Communities, and others, are there on the horizon and on the desktop in front of us…

13:16…as part of this exercise. It's part of what we have to do.

13:20I consider it probable that geodesign will increasingly involve sensors. Sensors that are embedded in the environment…

13:28…indeed, in us, or in our cars, and entries, and it's already happening. The sensors are all around us in a wide range of ways.

13:36And this is giving access to the information that makes the design different and possible in certain ways.

13:43Real-time so that we have, not just sort of static base data, but interactive, instantly available, up-to-date information…

13:51…as part of what we're doing.

13:53And not just remote sensing from the satellites up there, but what I call intimate sensing, as part of what we do.

13:59Has some possibly creepy implications, but it's part of the world that we live in.

14:09Here, for example, is some work from Carlo Ratti's SENSEable City Lab at MIT, tracking information that's coming in…

14:19…across the cell phone towers outside of Rome as a way of understanding the structure and function of the city.

14:32And here's an interesting project that I found, which I think epitomizes what I've just talked about at this combination…

14:38…of things. This project to develop a new system for assessing the condition of flood control infrastructures that's…

14:43…got mounds of earth and mechanized walls, and infrared and wireless sensors, and a network of repeaters…

14:53…and watches, and satellites, and people at computers that are all together modifying, monitoring the environment…

14:59…and modifying the environment at the same time.

15:02In this case, for flood control, but you can imagine this principle applied to a wide range, traffic control…

15:07…and crowd control, and housing systems, and sewage treatment, and all kinds of things that I think is part of what we do.

15:14We're not just designing that anymore, we're increasingly designing this as well, as part of the designs that we make.

15:22I consider it probable that biology will be increasingly important in what we do.

15:26That we'll talk the need to have more biologists in the room. Anybody self-identify as a biologist in here?

15:33See, we're missing a large part, a pretty important science in what we do as part of this community discussion.

15:39And the whole world exploding right now of so-called bioengineering as we try and understand what does that mean?

15:45And particularly something called biomimicry. Who's heard of this? Good, thank goodness.

15:51So those of you who haven't, it's fabulous. You've got to read up about it. This idea of understanding from nature.

15:56How has nature solved problems of insulation, and lubrication, and distribution, in ways that we can learn from.

16:04There's a burgeoning technology here, and it's going to be important to geodesign as we move forward.

16:10I consider it probable that we will move from pattern making to pattern finding and reinforcing.

16:16The word pattern has been used a few time here. I consider, for example, Harlequin Plaza.

16:21When I was a student at getting my undergraduate, my graduate degree in landscape architecture…

16:25…Hargreaves was checkerboard and the landscape there was magazine cover material.

16:31It's been recently remodeled. The checkerboard is barely there, and it's classically static and symmetrical…

16:37…and compare that to the patterns that we see flying over the country now, or that are available in Google Earth…

16:44…that are richer than the simple black and white checkerboard as material with which to work.

16:54I consider it unlikely that current visualization tools will be sufficient.

16:58No matter how many rectangular TV screens you may have, we need more than that.

17:05Geodesign representation will require a move beyond maps, graphs, pictures, and movies as we currently understand them…

17:11…as rectangular-bounded things, into a range of visualization that will include 4D, that's animation, or m-dimensional…

17:21…which includes a range of other tactile, or other kinds of dimensions of information that we can learn from…

17:28…and use, both for design exploration, and communication representation.

17:34One thing is certain, augmented reality is here to stay.

17:38Most of us are today carrying cell phones that enable this technology of, hold it up to the world and see overlaid on…

17:46…the view of the world, either where the Starbucks is, or who owns this land, or what's the soil type, or biodiversity…

17:55…whatever it is, this combination of being able to look at additional pieces, those are the m-dimensionals of the visualization…

18:01…added into what we think of as the three space that we inhabit, is changing the way we can see and understand…

18:09…the world as part of this geodesign process.

18:16I wish my videos were working. Do you have any understanding of why they might not be?

18:21'Cause the last two haven't worked and it would be kind of really great if…say again?

18:26Have to use the mouse to hit Play.

18:27I have to use the mouse to hit Play. This mouse?

18:36I wish I could say that this digital gestural grading by thumb swipe idea was a prototype that I was ready to show you.

18:46It's not; it's still a fantasy, and that was just a demo, but gestural interfaces are also clearly here to stay.

18:52The idea that I have to drag the mouse is annoying today.

18:56We know that swiping and moving and using the three space that our body inhabits…

19:02…or perhaps that our crowd inhabits, is a way of communicating and can be sensed, and we ought to be able to use it…

19:08…and we will in our future geodesign activities.

19:12Virtual realities have been around for a while and are being in use in various places as part of what we do.

19:17And immersive displays in ways, as John Dennehy talked about, that engage our peripheral vision, is part of what geodesign…

19:24…can, and will be doing in the future, I'm quiet certain.

19:29And who didn't want access to this avatar interface?

19:37Ignore the arrogant military planner there and remember this fabulous technology.

19:51The technology for that, of course, is just Hollywood special effects, but much of it exists, and we've seen already…

19:59…examples of pretty primitive holographic displays that do stuff partially, and it's only a matter of time, in my view…

20:08…and I'm here to talk about the future, so that's in our future, absolutely.

20:13I consider it likely that geodesign will continue to inherit technology from the military and from Hollywood as we will…

20:19…in the case of that.

20:22I consider it unlikely that the military, or Hollywood will ever learn from geodesign. I hope I'm wrong.

20:34It's certain, in my view, that simulations will be more and more required, easier and easier to make…

20:40…and more and more reliable and interesting. Is there any way we can turn this one on, as well? There we go.

20:48So here's a stream simulation from the Virtual StreamLab at the University of Minnesota.

20:54We're getting good enough knowledge about the laws of physics, and the laws of water, and light…

21:00…and other kinds of particles, and the ability to compute with them, that we can really make incredibly powerful…

21:06…simulations of almost anything we think we understand, and use that as a test for how well we understand it…

21:11…which has long been a role in simulation and science, and it's increasingly a part of what we do in geodesign.

21:18By the way, I consider simulations in the largest possible renderings are simple simulations as well.

21:25Often not as interesting as this, but…

21:29And indeed, physical and tangible simulations and interfaces are part of it.

21:33It's not, oh, I've got a fascination with things digital, of course, but I understand the role of things analog as well…

21:39…and the idea that this sort of classic model of 3D printing of buildings that you walk through with a camera with…

21:46…a lens on a stalk, could also be further informed. Each one of those things has got sensors in it and has got various…

21:53…kinds of information embedded into it so that the analog and the digital are working together in a hybrid mix…

21:59…that's even more powerful than either one of them alone.

22:04I consider it possible that ontologies for geodesign will become more comprehensive and embedding in our practice.

22:10An ontology is just a big word for a list of words, but it's got an important idea which is, that we come to a shared…

22:18…vocabulary with shared semantics and meaning, that's what makes communication possible.

22:23If we all think the word geodesign means something completely different, it leads to rather confused conversations…

22:30…and especially as we want to begin to engage more automatic reasoning of various sorts, perhaps by computers…

22:39…it's important that they will have something to look up, what does he mean by streambed, in a way that becomes…

22:45…accessible. So that this idea of an evolving…

22:48The GeoDesign Knowledge Portal that's available here online, right now.

22:53You can Google that out, thanks to the folks at Redlands Institute, is the beginning step in this direction.

23:03I consider it unlikely that any dominant software is going to continue to dominate in this world.

23:09And rather, that there were apps for that. There will be applications and web services as part of the evolution of what…

23:19…we mean by software and how we use, develop, and distribute software, is becoming a more distributed and cloudy…

23:27…enterprise, whether it's open source or closed source or other, the idea that software is monolithic and packaged in a single…

23:35…release, I think is prehistoric, and the future has a much more distributed, granular, and modular shape to it, much like…

23:45…the phones that we're all carrying today.

23:50Here's a wildcard. That indeed, there will be some open source consortium that will get together, and indeed, organize…

23:56…industrial-strength geodesign apps that are distributed over the web to everybody, and available to citizens all…

24:04…over the globe, to do what we're talking about here.

24:06And maybe we will be able to borrow from Esri something more than just the illustration that they've nicely provided here.

24:13But the contributions to that side, of how do we make and open up the algorithms that lead to these things so we can…

24:21…talk about them in a scientific way, about whether the procedural engine is doing what we really expected…

24:26…or just what it wants to do, will be an important part of the evolution of geodesign software.

24:32I have another thought about the evolution of geodesign software.

24:35I've presented this idea at a conference earlier in last year, the Digital Landscape Architecture Conference…

24:42…and this is my thought for what I think are the 15 essential elements of a geodesign toolbox.

24:50Carl's framework that he's described is a conceptual one; this is a, more of a tool builder's and, frankly, tool user's…

24:58…approach to the problem. In my view, geodesign is mostly the process of arraying a bunch of objects…

25:05…by which I mean either trees, or highways, or sensor systems, on some base, which is typically topographic and often…

25:15…has parts of it that are not part of the design, but the context within which the design happens, by specifying some…

25:22…configuration, by which I mean the 2D, or 3D, or 4D layout of those objects in that base context environment…

25:30…typically subject to some constraints, either implicit or explicit, that is, the houses must be parallel to the road, or…

25:37…the road shouldn't be in the water, and other kinds of constraints that are part of this exercise, often by making…

25:43…access to a library where we look up objects or precedents or constraints that can be applied in this.

25:51Often increasingly in collaboration with other players. Often distributed in asynchronously over time.

25:58Usually producing multiple, and not only sequential, but also branching versions of a design, which we might…

26:06…want to keep, some of which die, some of which become the final one, that embed a whole range of levels of abstraction.

26:15That's what LOA is. There's some very specific materials with concrete dimensions and colors, and there's some…

26:20…much more cloudy ideas like democracy, or radiality, or symmetry that are also embedded in these documents…

26:27…and need to be tracked, and often have a specific relationship; but concrete thing is often the instance of some…

26:34…higher-level idea which can be substituted for with some other equivalent one.

26:39And I consider the management of diagrams, which is a particular piece of this exercise, to be an important part…

26:46…of managing the levels of abstraction because that's where these high-level ideas get the beginnings of some…

26:53…topological relationships, not yet topographic.

26:58And that we have learned, thanks to the web, that documents need not just be on their face, but can be linked…

27:05…to other pieces of information. So you can click on a drawing and get a video, and click on a video and get some text…

27:11…and that's what we need to be able to manage, not just construction drawings that could be printed out and…

27:16…rolled up under our arm.

27:18And that in so doing, we need access to modeling and scripting languages, programming, or macrowriting, if you will…

27:25…so that we can both embed all the kinds of models that we make for evaluation, but also, as we've seen for parametric…

27:32…generation, of objects and their configurations subject to constraints.

27:37And that these things need to be aware of time, both seasonal change, or the schedule for construction for this particular…

27:46…project in a way that's not just geographic anymore, but is actually 4D.

27:53And that we need a huge range of kinds of simulations ranging from the simple aspatial scientific ones, or mathematical…

28:01…ones, or indeed, the renderings and various other kinds of visual simulations that we make in this exercise.

28:09That we need dashboards that surface some small number of key metrics by which we evaluate how we're doing…

28:16…with our design and know if it's getting better or getting worse, or according to how much it's going to cost…

28:21…and we've seen some great examples of almost all of these, with some exceptions, in the last 48 hours.

28:27And a bow to my colleague and mentor in many ways, a methods coach might be embedded into such a system…

28:37…so that we know that there are possibilities for different ways of solving problems. And maybe, although I've not ever…

28:43…been a fan of the animated paper clip avatar that says, "Can I help you?"

28:48But perhaps some less intrusive and a little bit more well-integrated avatar, artificial intelligence assistant…

28:56…might pop up and say, "I notice that in the last couple of tries, your key metrics haven't gotten any better. Maybe you…

29:03...should consider this one done, or maybe you'd like to try another method?"

29:09And I think that that's possible that with the kinds of ontologies and intelligences that we know are going to happen…

29:15…we can have this as part of our system in the future.

29:18I want to pick a few of these for further emphasis. I really do consider it likely that we will have objects in…

29:25…what is importantly the object-oriented sense that computer programmers talk about, that objects are parts…

29:32…or instances of classes of objects that share behaviors and properties.

29:37This is a real-world…when you grab a house, you want it to act like a house…

29:41…and when you grab a tree, you want it to act like a tree.

29:44And this is such a common idea in manipulation of things that if you have to grab a circle that stands for a tree, it's not…

29:51…satisfactory and it's not our future.

29:54You can see my further thoughts on this in last year's GeoDesign Summit videos that are online.

30:01I consider it probable we will get, at some point, full 3D integration and stop distinguishing between CAD…

30:08…on the one hand, and GIS on the other hand, or building information models, or landscaping for models…

30:14…on the other hand, and that, as in this example by our iconoclastic architect, Zaha Hadid, the distinction…

30:22…between what polygon is part of the roof, and what polygon is part of the park, is an unnecessary distinction…

30:30…in this complex geometry that we have to be able to support.

30:34I do consider it probable that constraints, that is, the formal articulation typically in a mathematical or logical form…

30:43…of the relationships between things, which may or may not be broken, and should be propagated or observed as part of…

30:51…our design future…it's already embedded in a range of ways in many 2D and 3D modeling environments…

30:58…where you can CERT this line has to always be parallel to that line, and when this one moves, this one will move with it.

31:04That's a very simple idea, but it's very powerful. In fact, it's so powerful that I only consider this probable…

31:11…and not certain, 'cause there are some really hard problems, as it turns out, with this.

31:16What should happen when there are conflicts? When two constraints conflict with each other.

31:20You said it had to be parallel, and now you've made it not parallel. Should the paper clip pop up and say, "Ah, did you notice?"

31:26Should you automatically spawn two versions and one of each case?

31:31Do you want things to appear in red on your drawings so you know where the violations are?

31:35Do you want to change your [unintelligible] so there's a complicated interactive problem, but it's an important part of…

31:41…the design systems of the future.

31:44And I should probably call this absolutely certain, managing versions, which most of us do today by renaming files…

31:51…latest and latest, latest, right?

31:54Well, we can do better than that. The software development environment has what are called version control systems…

32:01…that keep track of this in a very formal way that allows you to go back to any point in time and branch two different…

32:07…versions, or merge together two different versions, keep track of who made what changes, when, and how…

32:12…did they propagate, and that's got to be a part of the future, and I know that Esri is going to continue to work on ways…

32:19…of making this part of the suite of tools that are provided for managing the documents that get produced in this process.

32:26Unfortunately, I consider it unlikely that we will ever achieve what I would consider full computational support for diagrams…

32:33…because, again, it's a hard problem.

32:36It's like recognizing speech, which, if you look at your iPhone, you know that it's not that hard anymore.

32:43But this is really something where understanding the intentions that are represented by squiggles, or bubbles and arrows…

32:50…and turning them into constraints, which is what our mind does with them, is still probably going to be the…

32:56…province of wetware, or human intelligence, for the foreseeable future.

33:02But I do look forward to also being wrong in this and possibly being part of making it happen sooner, rather than later.

33:10So that's a quick tour through some of the things that I think are in the future for our software for geodesign systems.

33:19I'm certain that systems thinking will prevail. Systems thinking is being taught at elementary school now…

33:28…thanks to this project from the Waters Foundation, and consists of such simple-minded ideas as in recognizing…

33:36…that a system's structure generates its behavior, or changing your perspective to increase understanding…

33:41…or a whole range of ideas that have to do with this simple, but deep, systems idea that the sum is greater than the…

33:52…whole of the parts, or you know what I meant, and that there are actually emergent properties when we start…

33:57…putting things together, and systems can become too complicated for any one person to understand.

34:03And it's not just elementary school, by the way. I recommend to you this book by Donella Meadows.

34:08She of the Club of Rome report that wrote, put out the Limits to Growth, thinking in Systems, is the name of the book and…

34:17…if you want to…if you don't want a whole book on this topic, if you Google, dancing with systems, you'll find about…

34:23…a three-or four-page kind of poetic essay that she wrote near the end of her life which is quite moving and quite informative…

34:30…I think, and an essential part of how we think about the problems that we are geodesigning with.

34:38I consider it possible that ideas such as resilient design, and permaculture, and cradle-to-cradle, and all these other…

34:45…ideas about what constitutes good, rather than less good design, will become part of our geodesign thinking.

34:56Absolutely certain that geodesign and designers will be connected, multidisciplinary, distributed, and build connections.

35:05That's what partly we do with all of these things as we realize that fundamental ecological adage that…

35:11…everything is connected to everything, and part of what we need to do is to understand where to reinforce…

35:16…and how to identify those networks.

35:22Here's a fabulous graphic which, you'll have to take my word for it, unless you have really, really good eyesight…

35:28…but this is a galaxy of points, each of which represents a scientific journal and a range of disciplines, like architecture…

35:38…and social, and psychology, and so on, and an analysis of the click streams of web users over a period of time.

35:45People who are reading journals in this discipline, got linked over by reference to a journal in this discipline and…

35:51…got linked over by a reference to a journal in this discipline.

35:54And so, there are clusters of disciplines. Architecture happens to be right here, and it's not far from ecology.

36:01On the one hand, classical studies in music, but it's very far away from systems, engineering, and materials…

36:09…properties, or public health, and we have to begin to build these connections. We need them.

36:16We need our colleagues in all of these disciplines, and it's a connected world we live in.

36:22In this vein, I consider it probable that the so-called web of things will be part of what we do.

36:28I showed you an example of the web of things with that flood control system.

36:33The idea that things, like cars, and toasters, and trees, have sensors embedded in them and become part of a network that's…

36:41…not just computers with servers with HTTP daemons, but indeed, a much more dynamic web of interactive…

36:49…information emitting and sensing and responding things in the world. And this is happening right now.

36:57I consider it probably that robodozing will become more widespread. I was part of a conference a decade ago…

37:04…about the emergence of autonomous robotically controlled bulldozers transforming the world.

37:10And Caterpillar is hard at work on this. They've got them in a range of public…range of sites that are mostly have a driver…

37:19…in them to reassure people that there's someone there to step on the brakes or pull the emergency stop, and otherwise…

37:25…they run completely autonomously. You stick your USB key into the dashboard, it's got the TIN of the terrain, or…

37:32…the path to be traveled, and it does it on its own.

37:36Robots in general, are part of our world and will increasingly be so. And imagine when the D12, that's a large bulldozer…

37:45…starts talking back to your cell phone. [inaudible] That's our future.

38:03Terraforming. Maybe you noticed the word that appeared on the screen in last night's keynote talk amongst all the…

38:09…flying words that appeared on the screens in that talk.

38:12And this idea, as a reader of…an avid reader of science fiction over the years, the idea that earthshaping of a planet…

38:18…moon, or other body, the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying it to make it more habitable by terrestrial…

38:25…organisms, is sadly, what we have to do on our own home planet, increasingly.

38:37And I couldn't have that reference without showing you these pictures of a dystopic [sic.] past.

38:42These are robodozer's terrestrial moving, changing soft coal excavation machines from the ex-East Germany.

38:54That must have been a horrible place to live when they were actually working.

39:00Likely that we will have flying robots increasingly in the world and the projects that we work on.

39:06Mostly these are for surveillance right now, and they're routinely deployed in a wide range of things, not just in the…

39:13…military, or for Hollywood, but for local surveys where you can get very up-close aerial surveys over any area…

39:21…under pretty easy remote radio control, remote control.

39:27Unlikely, I suppose that Ron Herron and Archigram's idea of The Walking City, of enormous robotic legs…

39:36…that had 5,000 people living in them, walking over the earth, changing, and finding a good place for them.

39:43But I've always liked the drawings, so I sort of regret that.

39:48Probable that the term geofencing will become part of our vocabulary. How many of you have used this?

39:54So geofencing is the simple idea that rather than having to build a real fence, I can just draw a polygon on my CAD system…

40:03…or screen of any sort, and coupled with some control devices like you might put on a dog, or a prisoner, I've got a…

40:11…very real fence enabled by the network, and the computers, and the satellites that we've talked about.

40:18This is being marketed today. You can Google it, and mostly as techniques for managing the employee accountability and…

40:27…productivity. Know where your delivery truck has gone. But it's got a dark side possibility, and this has become…

40:37…a topic of discussion in geography as part of what we think about the future and the meaning of this and the…

40:46…particularly dark version of it called geoslavery, which actually carries this to its logical if, unsavory extreme…

40:56…whereby we can actually use these technologies to keep track of people in ways that they might not like, or want.

41:02And it's entirely possible that these things will become part of what we do either wittingly, or unwittingly in…

41:08…our geodesign projects using this technology, and I hope we don't.

41:14It's certain, in my view, that geodesign will be multiscale, indeed, already is, from the nanotech to the global.

41:22Unfortunately, we've got to know about all that these days. The education problems we have are enormous in this regard.

41:29I refer you to Bruce Mau's book called Massive Change.

41:32This is not just about the world of design, it's about the design of the world, and it's a particularly well put together…

41:39…both graphically and conceptually, in my view, kind of exposition of the range of topics that we will have to…

41:45…engage with, as designers for the future world that we really want.

41:52And Hack the Planet, available via Amazon, where we really talk about changing Earth systems with things like…

42:01…synthetic volcanoes and, again, last night's Keynote Address talked a little about this modification of earth's systems on…

42:09…a planetary and global scale. And that's geodesign in many ways.

42:17Probable that nanotechnology will it be important. Here's a map of various projects in nanobiology, the evolution of…

42:25…viruses that can change the way plants behave on the planet, what they do with water, and how they move nutrients…

42:32…and minerals around. All of which could be really fabulous but gives the idea of a global virus a kind of a new…

42:39…and frightening meaning at the same time.

42:44Hence, I'm sure that geodesign ethics will emerge.

42:47We've heard the word already in the conversations that have started around here and will be controversial because…

42:54…there are, it's a multicultural complicated world we live in, and it's not always clear what's the right thing to do…

43:01…and this is going to be part of both our professional life, and our educational challenge in that regard.

43:09Possible that we will one day do geodesign on the moon. That's the nearest target, or elsewhere.

43:15And fortunately, there's a book to guide us, Beyond Spaceship Earth: Environmental Ethics and the Solar System.

43:20So as we move out to Mars and Jupiter, we'll be able to have some guidance in that process.

43:28I consider it possible that our education system will evolve in the ways that we've seen here and keep up with…

43:33…the demands. And I consider it possible that it might not. And in so doing, we would fail our most important…

43:40…contributors, our children. And this is also part of the challenge that we have as we move forward.

43:47Here's another unlikely wildcard, the direct brain computer interface. This is not science fiction, this is real technology…

43:54…right now mostly used for people with various kinds of physical handicaps who can learn to control the physical…

44:01…world by just brainwaves. Right now you can buy a headset from Amazon to allow you to try and control the paddle…

44:09…on a game of Pong, and that's this year. The future on this is also interesting, complicated, a little…

44:17…creepy, if you think about it running signals the other way, so you could have, you know, Orson Welles…

44:23…"Feelies", not just movies, but you actually sense the whole thing coming through this interaction, or various kinds…

44:28…of mind control. I don't want to spin too wildly out of control here.

44:33It started with a very large number, and I'll end now with two small numbers.

44:38Two plus two makes four, or it makes for us a pretty complicated future if we get global warming of two degrees C…

44:45…or more, an ocean-level rise of two meters or more, we really will have an FGDC.

44:53Some of you, I know, think you know what that stands for, but it's a future geodesign challenge.

45:05Just before Thanksgiving, last November, NASA released this image, the first synthetic visible infrared view…

45:17…of the entire globe, captured by the new VIIRS instrument aboard the NPP satellite that went up there, so now we…

45:25…have every 24 hours, a view of the planet's invisible infrared. That's only the tip of an iceberg of the kind of…

45:33…information that we're going to increasingly have, and need, as we move forward in dealing with these grand…

45:40…geodesign challenges. And if we get this planet under control, there are apparently a few others out there in the…

45:52…world that we'll have to deal with. Thank you.

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GeoDesign Futures: Possibilities, Probabilities, Certainties, and Wildcards

Stephen Ervin of Harvard Graduate School of Design shares his perspective on the future direction of geodesign.

  • Recorded: Jan 6th, 2012
  • Runtime: 45:56
  • Views: 35325
  • Published: Feb 17th, 2012
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