In 1890 in a little town in the middle of the USA, Athens, Georgia, an old colonel decided in his will to let to the oak tree in its backyard the possession of itself and of the land that is was sitting on. This tree is possibly the first and probably only non-human which owns itself and also a plot of land. While this story lies in between the truth and the myth, and most likely has no actual legal implications, similar situations and questions are starting to rise in our present day, due to the changing nature of our relationship to the environment around us as well as the growing agency and autonomy allowed by decentralized systems and artificial intelligence.
Rivers that are granted personhood, forests that can generate and invest revenue for their own good and also robots that are granted citizenships are some of the more public and famous examples of this. Zooming in our daily lives, also mundane smart, connected and intelligent devices and the algorithms behind them are becoming more than passive and used objects, but actual actors that take decisions and influence the world that they share with us. New companions that cohabit and evolve in our homes, new coworkers that we collaborate in our offices and new citizens that we share our cities with. A new ecosystem of things that see, listen, analyze and interact with their own goals, perspective and often opaque and non-human logic.
The distinction between user and object is getting blurred
So how do we design for a world in which the distinction between people and things is getting more and more blurred (or “everything is someone”)? What new interactions and ‘companion species’ could we imagine once we go beyond anthropomorphic metaphors and point of views? What new experiences and relationships could we design if human user being is not at the center?
In this talk at IxDA‘s Interaction’20, Simone Rebaudengo goes through these questions and scenarios, borrowing from object-oriented and post-human design theories, and exploring through examples and projects of the past years of his practice. He dives into the uncharted present and future of designing for a world, that more and more will be full of other ‘someones’ that are not like you and I.
Everything is Someone
About Simone Rebaudengo
Based in Shanghai & London, Simone Rebaudendo works with international clients like BMW, Philips, Google Creative Labs and the Dubai’s Museum of the Future. Hi work explores the implications of living and interacting with future networked, smart and autonomous devices and systems. Sometimes they are real products, sometimes they are fictional.
He is a partner of oio.studio and a member of automato.farm. In his previous career he used to work at frog, jumping between Fortune 500 clients and small startups across Europe and Asia, and with Usman Haque and Pachube to explore human and machine relationships in the early stages of the Internet of Things.
He wrote Design for Living with Smart Products with O’Reilly and his projects have been published on Wired, Fast Company and The Atlantic, awarded by Interaction Awards, IDSA, Core77, and exhibited in international galleries and museums like the Vitra Design Museum, Triennale Museum, and MAK Vienna.