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Design Is [Messy] : Approaches to engaging with complexity

Google Design2020-03-05
potential trajectories for the messy futures of emerging technologies#messy futures of emerging technologies#messy futures#emerging technologies#Global politics#The Gerasimov Doctrine#Waymo#self driving car#car accidents#access the internet worldwide#use tech to solve big problems#everyday robots#robotics#AI#artificial intelligence#design fiction#Google#Design Relations#material#design#form#Nick Foster#Christian Ervin#GDS: Yes;
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💫 Short Summary

The X Moonshot Factory team discusses using breakthrough technologies for innovative projects, addressing global challenges and the increasing complexity of the world. They explore design concepts, the impact of external factors on product creation, and the need to consider broader implications. The video emphasizes the importance of managing complexity, embracing messiness in design work, and taking responsibility for the future impact of creations. Designers are urged to include diverse perspectives, think critically about potential outcomes, and adapt to evolving challenges in the rapidly changing world of design.

✨ Highlights
📊 Transcript
Introduction to X Moonshot Factory team members Nick and Christian.
00:13
X Moonshot Factory is known for projects like Waymo and Loon, focusing on using breakthrough technologies to solve big problems.
Projects discussed include Everyday Robots for robotics in unstructured spaces and design fiction work at the Near Future Laboratory.
Despite challenges of a two-person talk, Nick and Christian aim to share their innovative work with the audience.
Global chaos and intentional disinformation.
04:30
40% of food in the USA goes uneaten, costing $165 billion annually.
Living conditions and energy consumption affect air quality.
9 out of 10 people live in places with poor air quality.
Climate change remains a major unresolved challenge with interconnected factors.
Challenges of increasing complexity and chaos in the world.
05:57
VUCA concept (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) used in business and academia to describe global economy and society.
Designers facing difficulty in making intentional decisions in a chaotic present, emphasizing the need for a new approach.
Acknowledgment of not having all the answers is crucial in navigating the uncertain landscape.
Traditional model of design as hero designer or starchitect.
08:56
Emphasizes individual charisma, vision novelty, and technical mastery.
Explores Gesamtkunstwerk, a total design or artwork with overarching vision for every detail.
Compares closed world concept to modern consumer objects with attention to detail and self-consistency.
Highlights ignoring complexity and externalities in design, focusing on fantasy of control.
The importance of understanding the complexity and interconnectedness of products like the Amazon Echo Dot.
12:27
External factors impact and are impacted by the product's creation and usage.
The supply chain, network services, data management, and physicality are crucial for the product's functionality and sustainability.
Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler created a map called 'the anatomy of an AI system' to illustrate these dependencies.
Despite its simple appearance, it is essential to consider the broader implications and processes involved in the production and usage of the Amazon Echo Dot.
Actor Network Theory and the complexity of modern products.
14:25
Products are evolving from simple boundaries to more complex solutions, leading to solutionism and solution entropy.
Problems are never truly solved but rather shifted elsewhere, as highlighted by Paul Virilio.
Inventions come with their own set of problems, such as the need for dongles with USB-C.
Design should focus on addressing the bigger picture rather than just individual tasks.
Importance of forming abstractions to simplify complexity in design.
17:31
Human mind creates models using symbols and metaphors to understand messy realities and act responsibly.
Rational model of design aids in comprehending complexity and building mental models for manipulable solutions.
Built environment as a diagram, showcasing interior organization in structures like OMA's Seattle Public Library.
Emphasis on the significance of abstraction in managing complex concepts and designing functional solutions.
The importance of minimal design in design language systems.
21:55
Frank and Lillian Gilbreth's work on time and motion studies is referenced for optimizing human activities through structured sequences.
Abstracted models in design processes lead to a generic problem-solving approach.
A metaphor of human problem-solving is used to explain computer functionality at the IBM Pavilion of the World's Fair in 1964.
Consistent method used in solving complex problems is highlighted.
Overview of the Design Council double diamond problem-solving process.
22:33
The process involves stages such as discover, expansive, define, contractive, develop, deliver, and contractive.
The process is rational and linear, aimed at solving messy problems and delivering clean solutions.
Over-simplifying concepts can lead to missing complexities and the need for iterative feedback loops.
The example of Deloitte's Agile landscape illustrates the challenge of managing complexity in problem-solving approaches.
Challenges of simplifying and organizing complexity in innovation projects.
26:28
Importance of acknowledging and quantifying messiness and complexity in projects.
Discussion on the concept of cloud computing and its physical components.
Examples from history, such as Norbert Wiener and Jay Forrester's work in cybernetics and system dynamics.
Exploration of modeling and simulating complex systems using feedback loops and computer simulations.
The World3 model explores systems such as non-renewable resources, industrial output, pollution, and the food system.
27:53
Emphasis is placed on the population system, highlighting the importance of detailed simulations down to the individual level.
Dr. Gerhard Michal's Roche Biochemical Pathways project, initiated in the 1960s, aims to map out metabolic interactions in cells and organs.
The project has evolved over decades with added detail, demonstrating the complexity of human understanding of biochemical processes.
Challenges of creating stable mathematical models for complex systems.
30:56
Conflict between growth and stability in economic and capitalist systems.
Description of self-organizing systems as a machine fantasy rooted in cybernetics and mathematical models.
Emphasis on understanding the scale and boundaries of the system being studied.
Reference to 'The Power of Ten' movie and philosopher Bruno Latour's work highlighting complexity and interconnectedness of systems.
Exploring the concept of zooming in and out in "Anti-Zoom" challenges the notion that information stays constant at different scales.
32:55
Lewis Carroll's work highlights the impossibility of creating a completely accurate map, sparking discussions on accuracy and simulation in modeling.
Baudrillard's idea of simulacra cautions against straying too far from truth in simulations, leading to the creation of parallel universes lacking grounding.
These concepts are applied in different fields to navigate complexity and disorder, with design being a major focus of study.
Challenges in the UX Community.
36:19
The UX community is praised for its teamwork, unlike other design fields that focus on individual recognition.
Design often overlooks underlying systems and external factors, leading to a cycle of solutionism and unattainable expectations.
Traditional design models, despite receiving recognition and awards, do not fully encompass the complexity of the discipline.
Designers tend to be introspective and engage with Design Twitter but lack collaboration with other teams and disciplines, with a tendency to focus inward.
Critique of societal portrayal as ethical arbiters without engaging with professionals.
38:19
Lack of progress on grand challenges and sense of spinning in circles.
Indecisiveness in society referred to as 'the dithering'.
Anxiety caused by pace of innovation surpassing our understanding.
Advocacy for design to take on role as society's pragmatic intellectuals in interpreting dynamic reality.
Importance of embracing complexity and messiness in design work.
41:12
Designers are encouraged to be more exploratory and critical in their approach.
Advocacy for considering radical alternatives and widening reading circles for diverse perspectives.
Focus on future implications, moving away from shallow practices, and integrating speculative and critical design.
Designers urged to take responsibility for the impact of their creations and think beyond mere applications of technology.
Importance of considering implications and thinking beyond initial designs.
43:51
Using tools like the Futures Wheel to explore potential outcomes and responsibilities.
Breaking down work and asking questions to help clients think more deeply.
Spending time analyzing the negative implications of projects.
Moving away from technocratic optimism in design solutions.
Designing for the future with a practical approach.
46:35
Emphasizes understanding the current state of the world and designing responsibly.
Future design should embrace plurality and consider multiple possible outcomes.
Introduces the concept of 'many futures' to encourage thinking about different trajectories.
Consider plausible and preferable futures rather than a singular predetermined future.
Importance of Diversity in Product Design Decision Making.
48:40
Emphasis on including perspectives of women, people of color, different cultures, and various viewpoints in product design decisions.
Critique of traditional human-centered design, calling for expanded responsibility to consider externalities and unintended consequences.
Designers are urged to think contextually and consider larger societal impacts beyond immediate users.
Highlight on the need to extend care to multiple dimensions and timescales in design decisions, understanding layered forces of change.
Impact of Machine Learning Tools on Society
51:40
Machine learning tools such as GANs and convolutional neural networks are becoming increasingly complex and are influencing areas such as music, images, and video.
Hyperconnected Objects and Communication Challenges
The interconnected world created by hyperconnected objects will pose challenges in communication and comprehension.
Rise of Deep Fakes and Synthetic Realities
Deep fakes are blurring the line between truth and reality, ushering in an era of synthetic realities.
Uncertainty with Quantum Computing
Quantum computing is disrupting traditional notions of computing, leading to a more uncertain and messy future.
Importance of adapting design to address future challenges.
54:00
VUCA concept from the '80s remains relevant and will continue to grow.
Design needs to find new tactics, approaches, and techniques to navigate the future effectively.
Emphasis on design not being adequately prepared for upcoming challenges.
Highlighting the significance of evolving in order to meet future obstacles.