Technological dreams and post-petroleum futures
Technological dreams often exist as near future techno-utopian imaginaries. This presentation begins by examining why such visions have stagnated and concludes with some suggestions for alternative design approaches that can provide new visions, in line with the complex issues we face at this time.
Technological dreams are formed through extrapolating the promise of an emerging technology and typically exist as near-future techno-utopian imaginaries. In the 20th Century, for example, the internal combustion engine was the source of numerous iterative dreams as its evolving potential inspired the fantastic machines and infrastructures that were built around it – from the visions of superhighways and the streamlined motorcars, trains and planes of the 1930s, through to supersonic flight via the Jet engine in the 1950s, to the spectacular finale of the rocket and possibility of space exploration during the cold war period. In the 21st Century technological dreams have become digital (for example, the driverless car), but the patterns, motivations and methods behind them remain largely the same. This presentation begins with a few key observations on why such visions of the future have stagnated or are simply not appropriate for the world of the 21st Century, acknowledging design’s origins and its complicit role in formation of technological dreams. It concludes with some suggestions on how alternative design approaches can both dismantle the myths of progress that form the basis of technological dreams and also provide new visions that are more in line with the complex issues we face at this time.
École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay
James Auger is an enseignant chercheur at ENS Paris Saclay. His practice-based design research examines the social, cultural and personal impacts of technology and the products that exist as a result of its development and application. Running parallel to his academic work James is a partner in the speculative design practice Auger-Loizeau, a collaboration founded in 2000. Auger-Loizeau projects have been published and exhibited internationally, including MoMA, New York; 21_21, Tokyo; The Science Museum, London; The National Museum of China, Beijing and Ars Electronica, Linz. Their work is in the permanent collection at MoMA.