CIID, Design playground, Thoughts

Project update 1 : Of perception , superpowers and ‘Living in the middle’

Its been a month and a half since my initial thoughts about my final project. I have been immersing myself in reading a lot of science fiction / fantasy / graphic novels , and generally having ball in this inspiration phase.

I have been particularly driven by aspects of Technopathy and Ecological Empathy as abilities that could be looked into further.
Technopathy (techno : systematic treatment of an art, craft, or technique & pathos :  suffering, feeling, emotion) , would mean a sense of deep empathy and connection certain fictional characters have with the technological environment around them.

Example : Something that Iron Man (not Tony Stark) uses in particular scenarios …

Ecological empathy  was another ability where the characters were empathic and could control the natural / living environment around them. Example : Swamp thing , Ents

So what would human beings sense and percieve if they could be empathetic to tech and natural environments alike ?

At about the same time Matt Jones from Berg came into CIID and gave us this great talk where he mentioned certain concepts of ‘Living in the middle’ (as originally stated by Richard Dawkins in a TED conference) and designing for a ‘ Robot readable world ‘ where he makes a case for systems with Seeing algorithms, mentioning:
“What if, instead of designing computers and robots that relate to what we can see, we meet them half-way – covering our environment with markers, codes and RFIDs, making a robot-readable world”

He also mentioned a talk by Richard Dawkins which I had seen a while ago , about the Queer Universe we live in , and the fact that we as humans live in this middle world.

A brief transcript from his talk goes like this:

“What we see of the real world is not the unvarnished world but a model of the world, regulated and adjusted by sense data, but constructed so it’s useful for dealing with the real world.

The nature of the model depends on the kind of animal we are. A flying animal needs a different kind of model from a walking, climbing or swimming animal. A monkey’s brain must have software capable of simulating a three-dimensional world of branches and trunks. A mole’s software for constructing models of its world will be customized for underground use. A water strider’s brain doesn’t need 3D software at all, since it lives on the surface of the pond in an Edwin Abbott flatland.”

Middle World — the range of sizes and speeds which we have evolved to feel intuitively comfortable with –is a bit like the narrow range of the electromagnetic spectrum that we see as light of various colours. We’re blind to all frequencies outside that, unless we use instruments to help us. Middle World is the narrow range of reality which we judge to be normal, as opposed to the queerness of the very small, the very large and the very fast.”

‘Living in the middle’ ,is a thought and a sentence that fascinates me because its linked to the aspects of technopathy and ecological empathy which are on my mind.

So if you visualize the aspects discussed in the talk, through a Venn diagram , ‘The robot readable world’ could be mapped with human beings like so:

Here HUMAN refers to our perceived world and the overlap in the Venn diagram refers to the middle world.

and Richard Dawkins notion of the human beings living in the middle world could be mapped as so :

So essentially being human we are in this space…

What if we close this linked system and the mapping looked like this :

Could this also make sense …. What would it be like to live and perceive in the middle world of the technological and natural environments around us…How would our technological environment co-exist with the natural , and develop an understanding of the same…How can I make sense of the multiple data sources …

I find this immensely interesting as a thought process and wish to investigate it further during my project research…


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