Class Notes: 29 August, 2019

Physical Interaction History

We have a history of interacting with things we don’t understand, starting with keeping animals and early science.  As new technology is developed we find new, unintended uses and create new arts and sciences.

  • Beekeepers – explain the complexity of a hive and how we’re only just now (past 20 years) discovering how bees vote to make hive-wide decisions
  • Alchemists – trying to make things happen with substances they don’t understand. If you don’t know about elements and that lead and gold are elements, what decisions are making to interact with substances?
  • New music and dance styles based on evolution of technology.  Electric guitars led to massive rock concerts and new methods of performance.  Early hip-hop was created with record players and mics.  Early synths were insanely expensive and shared at fancy studios; cheaper samplers and drum machines led to hip-hop, techno, house, ambient, etc.  See Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music.
  • Console games with physical interaction, Dance Dance Revolution
  • Driving assistance with vehicles: AI? Interaction? What if the car won’t let me turn, start, or stop?
  • Flight assistance software in commercial aircraft. Is autopilot interactive?
  • Flight assistance for military aircraft: self-guiding drones, incoming missile warnings for helicopter pilots. Interaction or reaction?

Near-future Interaction

The focus of this class – we’re prototyping for five years out

Think about interacting with intelligent systems that we don’t completely understand and that can make decisions against our will or with results we don’t like:

  • car that thinks you’re too intoxicated, sleepy, or incompetent to drive
  • home automation system that won’t open the doors and let you leave because the particulate count in the air is hazardous
  • police equipment that won’t let you fire at unarmed civilians
  • fire engines that won’t engage fires that cannot be contained
  • entertainment systems that can filter content as part of mental-health
  • near future popular base of pop-culture: MCU  movies are always set a few years from now

Learning from pop culture

Blade Runner 2049 features practical effects used as input devices to imagined systems

Adam Savage gets a tour of the Blade Runner 2049 prop room, no spoilers

Industrial design from the 50s has interaction design in the kitchen but it’s marketing fantasy to build the corporate brand:  Design for Dreaming

Good drama is about storytelling. What if interactive things are part of the story?
2001: HAL 9000
ST:TNG: DATA — a walking mobile phone smarter than spacecraft computers?  What if all the spaceships were as smart as DATA?
Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) our super computer meets the Soviet supercomputer and they plan our future
War Games (1983) — would you like to play a game? the only way to win is to not play the game.
Terminator movies don’t count — killing spree, not interaction
Farscape — Moya is a semi-intelligent, organic spacecraft and agrees with commands as she wishes.  (IMHO This is one of the best SF TV shows ever, really worth watching over winter break.)
Alien — MOTHER, a semi-intelligent computer that has its own direction

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