By Chriz Miller
Question: What will the the first massively produced robot look like?
My Best Guess: Exactly like a pair of hands.
Even massive systems have to scale up. Our built world is already made for human proportions. Using existing tools to do existing jobs, ‘Hand-bots’ could fit into the existing systems and take on one task at a time, with the potential to scale to the billions.
Mimicking hands also helps to overcome a serious design challenge: how to program them. Using Kinect-type motion reading or sensor gloves, human workers could “teach” the Hand-bots to do their work and then be replaced by them.
Since robots make the best economic sense in high-quality repetitive labour, early adopters will likely be Foxconn and other manufacturers in its class. These companies will provide the market to spur innovation, scale up production and bring down unit costs. Soon, Hand-bot could be affordable for everyone.
As Hand-bot become common, prices will drop, making them a more accessible tool for any repetitive manual work. Need something that can prep your meals, do the dishes and fold your laundry? Imagine just downloading the function from a market of ‘motion apps’ to program your Hand-bot to do whatever you need.
Why does it matter?
No matter what the exact form looks like, technology is destroying jobs far more rapidly than it is making them. What kind of jobs will be lost when the handbot arrives? By some predictions, soon taxi drivers will be replaced with automated cars, doctors will be less effective than diagnostic tools and one professor will teach 100,000 students at a time. Will we use these efficiencies to create a Jetson’s two-hour work day, or will our economy become one where only wealth makes wealth and the rest of us are left behind? The rise of the machines is already well underway. What kind of revolution will it create?
Chriz Miller is a Design Strategist with a post-grad certificate from the Institute without Boundaries. His most recent work experience was working as a strategist and doing Human Resources management with the largest independent NGO in South America.
By John Furneaux
At a recent talk put on by the IWB, Ezio Manzini said, “Discovery of the idea of place, is about the experiences that happened within the place”. That got me thinking about how we can create a better sense of place by giving people a more visceral connection to their past. In an environment when culture is often overtaken by commerce and we are losing our streets to the global brands, which in turn weakens our sense of community.
One project I would love to do is give neigbourhoods a more tangible sense of history at street level. In particular to do this in neighborhoods that had a strong cultural impact on their city and now are neutered through gentrification and commercialization.
If we used Queen Street West as an example, this could be brought to life by combining existing technologies and environmental graphic platforms. The use of scrims and projection can allow the buildings to physically move through time – the businesses, the styles, the history of the neighborhood. Additionally by looking through their smart phones, people can see and hear the street come alive with the music, art, fashion and voices of the people who once made it community of culture.
By Zahra Ebrahim
I want you to value designers. I really do. And I know it’s hard, because the most labor intensive part of their work is this intangible thing called “process”, but it is critical. I am constantly getting asked if I know or can refer people to designers of all kinds – likely because I teach at a design school, or perhaps because I run a design think tank – but what if you weren’t someone who knows someone involved in the design world? Where would you go for design help? What would you Google search?
This month, I am very excited to be able to realize a dream project of mine with a friend and fellow designer, Ken Chong. It’s called the Design Walk-In. The Design Walk-In is a storefront design agency where the general public can walk in, talk to a designer who will assess their design health and the needs of their project – time, budget, aesthetic – and either give an on-site prescription or refer them to a trusted specialist in our network. This gives the public access to designers that meet their unique needs, and freelance and young designers access to projects, clients and publicity.
We are opening today, June 4 and through the month of June as a pilot to test our hypothesis: if design is made more accessible, people will better value it. With the help of organizations like TASDesignBuild, we have been able to set up this first experiment. We hope to grow the project as a permanent space in Toronto and other cities worldwide.
Since graduating with distinction from the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, in over two decades of local & international environmentally-sensitive residential, commercial and institutional architectural practice, Paul has encountered so many Clients confused by green-information overload that he has started sustainable.TO /architecture + building, to assist others to make sense of it all to add “green” and practical value to Clients’ properties.
By Ayla Newhouse
Design and love are wicked problems that require constant iteration, attention, and creativity. My dream project is an illustrated book that explores how the tools and processes of design could be applied to improving relationships.
For our inaugural article Ken Greenberg shares his vision for Fort York as the Green Heart of the city.
by Ken Greenberg
Having survived various onslaughts in the latter decades of the 20th century, Fort York is, remarkably, still relatively intact, and at the centre of one of the fastest growing areas in Toronto. From the Exhibition Grounds and the Armory to the emerging new Fort York neighbourhood, and the filling in of the west end of the railway lands east of Bathurst, this process is well underway. The greatest opportunities are still yet to come on the north side of the rail corridor from Spadina Avenue and the Wellington Place neighbourhood to the southern flank of the Niagara neighbourhood, the Ordinance Triangle, and the completion of the southeastern portion of Liberty Village. With its large landscape preserving vestiges of historic Garrison Creek and the original Lake Ontario shoreline, plus new “green fingers” that extend from it, Fort York can form a new “green heart” overcoming the barriers that have isolated and fragmented these lands for many decades.