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This week on The Digital Life, we chat about design and creative professionals and what the future of work might look like for them. Our special guest on the show is Daniel Harvey, Head of Product Design and Brand at The Dots, a professional network for “no collar'” professionals.
 
Alongside with the immense power and flexibility that technology can bring, comes an evolution in, not only how we get creative work done, but also why we do it. Values and behaviors are changing among job seekers in creative industries. We see some of this, for example, in the growing emphasis on project work, rather than on continuous employment. Further, with such powerful emerging technologies as AI, will it be possible, eventually, to automate creativity? And if this is the case, will people be able to accept that technology driven output as creative? How will designers and other creative professionals survive and thrive in this environment? It's critical that we design roles and organizations that make the most of people, while leveraging technology. And, that we properly educate the next generation of designers so they can thrive and compete in the future. Join us as we discuss.
 
Resources:
The Dots


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This week on The Digital Life, we chat about international law and cyber war. According to a World Economic Forum article, over 30 governments have acknowledged that they have offensive cyber capabilities including: espionage and spying; sabotage including denial-of-service attacks and attacks on the power grid; and, perhaps the most talked about recently, propaganda. The difficulties of developing policy to regulate and respond to emerging technology like these cyber war capabilities highlights the problems of working within interlocking, complex systems of governmental and political process, meant for a previous era, that are now subject to rapid changes. And managing policy within the areas of fast moving emerging technologies—from software to genomics to robotics—will only get more difficult. What is the right way, or is there even a right way for governments and societies to respond to this need for laws and regs? Join us as we discuss.

Resources:
Why we urgently need a Digital Geneva Convention


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Just Google “messy desk.”

Forbes, Business Insider, The New York Times, and any number of blogs will assure you that out of desktop chaos can come the very best of innovation. University studies have even been devoted to the topic of the cluttered workspace and its benefits to creative thought.

I generally have a messy desk both at work and at home. I don’t like clutter, but since I’m a working parent I claim higher priorities than tidiness. Recently I looked more closely at the “empty desk, empty mind” topic and was struck by these comments from designer Eric Karjaluoto of smashLAB:

A number of myths around creativity are simply hardwired into our culture. In no particular order: The belief that designers are sensitive prima donnas whose needs must be catered to; The idea that “eureka” moments come only after great toil; The belief that you need to create a mess in order to pull out a gem; The perception that ideas occur as a result of random, chaotic action, and are only impeded by rational, clear-headed examination and planning.

The problem with all of this is that a great deal of it isn’t accurate—particularly when it comes to design. Most designers I know are normal, sensible folks who like to solve problems. I think a lot of us start to find that our insights don’t come from within, but rather are the result of truly understanding a problem. Many appear to gravitate towards increasingly methodical ways of working, and documenting, their processes. And, with time, even their experiments become less random.

GoInvo designers, like most, approach this question in a variety of ways. 

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Clutter is a distraction for me so I keep my desk pretty sparse. Only the bare essentials are within arms reach. It helps me focus. And any mess I do make is usually a series of sketches attempting to untangle some complex system I’m thinking about. — Eric Benoit

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I like to think that a cluttered desk isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I don't believe that it's a requirement for creativity. Design is messy but it's drawn out of order just as much as out of mess and clutter, and in either case vision often needs to be tamed by order and practicality for successful design. Not just designers, but anyone will naturally organize their workspace to match their process and way of thinking. I really resent the idea that designers are sensitive and delicate creatures. Designers are made of harder stuff and can and need to take criticism, especially since critique is such a big part of the design process. We can be wrong. A lot of the time. Design takes research and experimentation and finding all the wrong answers before we arrive at the right answer. — Jen Patel

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I have been writing my own music since I was eleven. I have found that there is no exact formula for me. Most musicians I've worked with are disheveled and messy, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a great song writer. On the other hand, you sometimes hear of amazingly talented artists are are neat freaks, perfectionists, and so on. Many great minds/artists have had routines—I believe I remember reading that Beethoven dumped a pot of water over himself every morning. I think it honestly just depends on the person. Music comes to me when I am absent minded or doing mundane tasks. A theme will be running in my head, sometimes for quite some time before I even realize it. This also happens when I am falling asleep. I also hear music in my dreams, and sometimes I will be able to remember it when I wake up and record the idea. The music comes when my brain is not actively seeking it, but instead when it is relaxed or on "auto-pilot" (which could be argued is a form of meditation). Even after writing music for 15 years, I cannot pick when I will write something good, or something I like. It happens when it happens, according to my emotions, my surroundings, and so on. I might argue that toiling away at something hour after hour, creating a “mess,” only produces a “gem” because your brain becomes so fatigued that the subconscious is allowed entry, to guide your pen or fingers. — Craig McGinley

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Note the sketchbook, Copic markers, drawing space, and resin at the ready. Always. — Sarah Kaiser

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Note the lack of a chair. There’s a treadmill, instead. Clear desk, tools at hand, surrounding prints in disarry, and movement. — Juhan Sonin

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Koko seems to have a number of well-organized design projects ongoing. Good dog, Koko. — Koko Sleeper

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This week on The Digital Life, we chat about all the new technology fun as CES 2018, the de facto emerging tech showcase, gets going in Las Vegas.

The smart home battleground is heating up as AI virtual assistants, like Google and Amazon Alexa, are being built into everyday household items and appliances. For instance, the bathroom is fast becoming a smartroom with Alexa incorporated into products like Kohler's new mirror, which can personalize light levels for different tasks, and Moen's digital shower technology, that enables users to set a specific water temperature. Connecting the digital to the physical is a big theme for CES this year, as AI is rolled out for a bevy of products and services. Join us as we discuss all this and more.

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On this episode of The Digital Life, we chat about science, emerging technology and whiskey with Sammy Karachi from Relativity Whiskey.

American craft whiskey is having a big moment and, more and more, innovation in science and technology is changing how whiskey is being made. In particular, Relativity Whiskey, uses a special, data-driven, maturation technology to age the spirit more quickly, saving years of time in the process. How will software and algorithms shape the whiskey creation process in the future? Join us as we discuss.

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On this episode of The Digital Life, we wrap up the year with some emerging tech predictions for 2018. We discuss the expansion of AI services in significant ways, automated trucks on the road, Target's online struggles, Amazon's difficulties in exploiting niche businesses, and the streaming services war as Disney prepares to take on Netflix among other topics.

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On this episode of The Digital Life, we take a look back on the best episodes and interviews of the year, spanning topics as varied as ethics, bioinspired design and music. In episode 199, we discussed avoiding biases when it comes to artificial intelligence with Tomer Perry, research associate at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. In episode 213, we explored designing bioinspired products with Nic Hogan, a computational designer focused on the creation of design and fabrication techniques that emulate or implement biological processes. We discussed artificial intelligence and music, in episode 223 with Pierre Barreau, CEO of Aiva, an AI composer that has created music used in the soundtracks for films, advertising, and games. And finally in episode 232, we chatted with designer and futurist Karen Kaushansky about creating new user experiences and interfaces for emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles.

Resources:
Episode 199: Ethics and Bias in AI
Episode 213: Bioinspired Product Design
Episode 223: AI and Music
Episode 232: Designing New Experiences

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On this episode of The Digital Life, we chat about the future of education and skills our children may need in the next economy. A recent article featured on the World Economic Forum Web site, “Forget coding, we need to teach our kids how to dream”, argues that attributes like relationships, curiosity, agility, creativity, and empathy, will be more important for the economy of 2030, rather than skills that could very well be subsumed by machine automation, like, for instance, coding. Join us as we discuss.

Resources:
Forget coding, we need to teach our kids how to dream
Designing for Emerging Technologies

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On this episode of The Digital Life, we chat about the frontiers of CGI and how we might approach it as reality and the virtual become increasingly indistinguishable. In a video essay, “Goodbye Uncanny Valley” in Aeon online magazine, artist and animator, Alan Warburton, explores this topic, examining everything from Hollywood blockbuster to political propaganda to digital art. What are the agreements that we make as a society regarding what is fact and fiction? How do we make decisions about important issues? Have we reached the post truth era? And, if so, how do we create policy when we have such powerful technology capable of both distorting and augmenting our experience of reality? Join us as we discuss.

Resources:
Goodbye Uncanny Valley

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On this episode of The Digital Life, we chat about the new “company town” and real estate development by Google and Facebook. As a part of their attempt to attract the best and the brightest to their tech organizations, Google and Facebook are acquiring and developing swaths of real estate in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is one of the most expensive places to live in the US and real estate values there continue to skyrocket. This means that the affordability of housing can be a significant obstacle to the hiring process. Of course, by adding strategically located housing not far from their office facilities to their expansive list of company perks, Google and Facebook encourage hires to work longer hours too. Join us as we discuss this latest wrinkle in creative class work.

Resources:
Robber Barons Would Have Loved Facebook’s Employee Housing
Company town 2.0
Google and Facebook are building the ultimate perk: housing

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