City MSc Human-Computer Interaction student, James Kay, demonstrates plausible possibilities for emerging technologies.

By City Press Office, Published

Who is responsible if a personal security drone kills someone in error?  How would an android partner handle being repossessed? Where will humans find refuge in a world inhabited by robots? Given the likelihood of a future where humans live alongside robots, these questions become more and more relevant. Consequently, how are researchers meant to explore such complex issues when the relevant technology doesn't currently exist? For MSc Human-Computer Interaction Design researcher, James Kay, the response has been the creation of mixed media Design Fiction artefacts.

Design Fiction is an anti-solutionist technique where diegetic (narrative) prototypes are used to demonstrate plausible futures for emerging technologies in order to explore users’ reactions to them and generate debate.

The artefacts in this case included a fictional news article, promotional materials, and a short film - all of which communicated narratives around different scenarios for human-robot interaction.

Held in the City Interaction Lab in late November 2021, the You, Robot exhibition was produced by James for his dissertation thesis. It was the culmination of months of work exploring the current state of human-robot interaction informed by interviews with subject matter experts and workshops with design students. As City pushes the boundaries of what is technically possible, Design Fiction offers our staff and students the means to explore potential futures through the creation and evaluation of engaging narrative artefacts. For more information on the project or how you might apply Design Fiction in your own work please contact James' supervisor, Stuart Scott, from City’s HCID Lab.