Cities in 2113: Novel Technologies for alternative Economies

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During the summer of 2013 at the Urban Interaction Design Summer School in Split, Croatia. 40 people (from all over the world ) currently working within the nascent field of urbanIxD gathered in Split to collaboratively imagine possible futures for cities and prototype new technologies and use scenarios. About this event, the organisers wrote:

This Coordination Action will define a coherent multidisciplinary research community working in the domain of technologically augmented, data-rich urban environments, with particular focus on the human activities, experiences and behaviours that occur within them (Interaction Design).

We worked following a critical design approach that fuelled our creativity while fostering our capacity to think critically about the desired and undesired effects of urban technologies and city politics. Our atelier leaders Tobias Revell and Sara Bozanic did a fantastic job orchestrating this creative process in order to ensure that our designs remained innovative but grounded. After doing some quick field research we worked on concepts and developed prototypes. I was interested in exploring my recurrent ideas about the sharing economy, and a new exchange system based on trust and reputation as the cornerstones of the empathic city. We addressed the undesired effects of excessive optimisation (such us social isolation, fragmentation and loss of agency) and envisioned a future where new technologies can augment our experiences as long as we are in physical proximity with others. The dependability of the digital and the somatic might allow for the development of a new generation of technologies capable of enabling social connectedness while augmenting human experience.

** This design fiction is part of “| City | Data | Future | – Interactions in hybrid urban space: the UrbanIxD exhibition”, which has been presented at several venues such as Split’s City Museum Gallery, Venice’s Future Centre, Rijeka’s Drugo More Gallery, Aarhus’ MAB2015, Pula’s Augustus Temple, Zagreb’s Nova Gallery, and Ljubljana’s Museum for Architecture and Design. The exhibition will now be part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. More info here.

Welcome to Aurora, the aura city of 2113.

Authors: Mara Balestrini, Sandro Engel, Ena Hadžić and Assunta Matassa Atelier leaders: Tobias Revell and Sara Bozanic

Synopsis: It is 2113. Cities have undergone profound change. By around 2050 urban population had grown dramatically and resources were scarce. Despite attempts to achieve sustainability, human obsession with owning resources lead to the collapse of society. The first wave of hope came in the form of collaborative consumption. This had begun decades before but only minorities had engaged. Citizens started to share their resources to ensure access to shelter, food and transport. Ownership had become an old luxury. In the beginning the sharing economy enabled encounter, trust and social capital. But desire for efficiency and optimization lead to the development of highly sophisticated sharing systems that precluded social interactions. Gradually, equipped with all sorts of sensors capable of recording information from brain activity to visual stimuli, smells and somatic experiences, we began to remotely share the most sensible data about our human experience. As time passed by the streets were empty, people lost agency with the physical world and with others. Public funding was given to researchers working on interactive systems to foster social connectedness. Now it is 2113 and this is our second wave of hope. Wearing our new technologies, we have achieved ultimate connectivity: we enjoy augmented experiences as long as we sync our senses with others in proximity. Sharing visual data requires that people look in each other’s eyes; sharing feelings can only occur if people actually touch. Even memories can be shared, but this data is only unlocked when two or more users reach certain levels of specific neuromodulators. In a society that relies on data sharing for most of its processes reputation needs to be quantified. Personal Aura points determine your aggregated reputation and whether others can trust you for sharing or not. In an Aura economy, finally, what you give is what you get.

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About Mara Balestrini

Mara Balestrini is Human Computer Interaction (HCI) expert and technology strategist.

One comment

  1. intricate matasse

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