Chris Speed

Design Informatics Chair - University of Edinburgh

Apocalyptic Design: Exploring More Than Human Agency in Distributed Networks

What happens when we give physical things wallets containing digital currencies? How can this alter power relationships and shift social dynamics? Chris Speed will explore these questions by highlighting the use of smart contracts in design, from a coffee machine that lets you vote for your coffee bean and pays those who clean it, to a hairdryer that trades on the energy market to offer the best price for drying your hair. The talk will frame these design prototypes as forms of ‘apocalyptic design’, a term borrowed from the genre of ‘apocalyptic cinema’ that foretell an end to the world. By introducing projects that remove agency from humans, Chris will explore how ‘apocalyptic design’ case studies for the Centre for Design Informatics reconfigure human and more-than-human relations, and rebalance the use of agency away from the user.

About the speaker:

Chris is Chair of Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh where he collaborates with a wide variety of partners to explore how design provides methods to adapt, and create products and services within a networked society. He is especially favours transgressive design interventions, to help identify and promote the values we care about most, including coffee machines that order their own ethical supplies, hairdryers that ask you to wait for the right time to blow dry your hair, and apps for sham marriages.

My Sessions