5 minutes with... Cennydd Bowles

Photo of Chris Bush

Head of Design

3 minute read

Meet Cennydd - designer, futurist and author of Future Ethics, who will be giving the closing keynote at Camp Digital 2019. We caught up with him to talk about the moral obligations of designers and his stance on readying large teams for organisational change.

Cennydd Bowles

At Camp Digital, your talk is about ‘Building Better Worlds’. Can you tell us a little bit more, why it’s important and what the audience can expect?

Our future is crawling with seductive dystopias: surveillance, nationalism, autonomous warfare, the climate crisis. Meanwhile, the design industry has become obsessed with operational efficiency, modularisation, and detail. This is completely the wrong direction. I want to impress that we have a moral obligation – as individual designers and as a community – to discard these minutiae and focus on the issues that may otherwise destroy us.

You have worked with some of the world’s biggest brands including the BBC, Twitter and Ford. What are some of the biggest achievements you’ve had working with those companies? And the biggest challenges?

Most large companies seem to be motivated chiefly by fear of certain competitors. I like to think in my time with these teams that I’ve encouraged them not to be frozen in those particular headlights, and instead to focus on their distinct customers and values, creating their own futures in that image. There’s also a more personal aspect. Emotional energy is a precious resource within large teams; if I can help recharge people for the long, difficult work ahead, my time has been well spent.

Of course, change in any organisation is slow, and any designer can really only help one company at a time. This is why I try to spread my message through writing, teaching, and speaking. Camp Digital will hopefully give me a chance to energise a broad and eager audience.

Ethical design and technology is something you’ve discussed at length. What makes you so passionate about this area of the industry?

It’s tempting to gesture wildly at what’s all around us: the slew of ethical mistakes the industry has been making, and the negative swing in the press and public sentiment that’s resulted. But more positively, I think neighbouring fields can offer some answers if we care to look.

I’m excited to bring ideas from futurism, speculative design, science fiction, and modern ethics into the world of digital tech, and see how they might transform our practices. I’m driven as much by our potential as our failings.

Your book, Future Ethics, came out last year – what’s the best piece of feedback you’ve had from readers?

‘I want a few million copies of this book to be crop-dusted over Silicon Valley’ was flattering, not to mention potentially lucrative. Generally, I’ve been thrilled by readers’ appetites for a serious, intelligent book on the challenges ahead. It gives me confidence that the industry is ready to shed its flimsy ‘move fast, break things’ reputation and take proper responsibility for the social impact of its work.

What are you most looking forward to at Camp Digital?

Jonny’s talk on The Death of Intent sounds intriguing. He claims ‘It’s mostly about death’: that’s an entirely relevant topic for the future we’re spiralling towards. I’ll also be involved in the Tech for Good Live panel, so am looking forward to injecting some lively disagreement where appropriate.

Cennydd's talk, "Building Better Worlds" was the closing keynote at Camp Digital 2019. You can still watch his talk on our YouTube channel.

Cennydd Bowles - Building Better Worlds (Camp Digital 2019)

In the beginning, the ending was beautiful.

Early spring everywhere,

the trees furred pink and white,

lawns sharp green that meant new.

The skies so blue it looked manufactured.

Robins.

We had heard the cherry blossoms wouldn't

blossom but an epic blooming and

the desert had an explosion.

And when coyotes slept deep in orange poppies.

One New Year’s Day we woke to daffodils,

wisteria, onion grass.

Near the end we were cottoned,

sun-dressed and bare-foot.

At least it's starting gentle, we said,

an absurd comfort, we knew,

a placebo but we were built like,

that built to say at least, built to reach for the

heat of skin on skin,

even when we were already hot.

Built to love the purpling desert in the twilight,

built to marvel over the pink bursting dog woods.

To hold tight to every pleasure even as we

rocked together towards the grain.

Even as we held each other,

warmth-to-warmth and said - sorry.

I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.

 

While petals sifted softly to the ground all around us.

There is no such thing as the future.

There are, instead, a near infinity of

potential futures, the road as yet

untraveled stretches before us in abundant directions.

We get to choose the route.

There is no fate but what we make.

Now, of course some of those routes are

more dangerous than others.

Some futures are better than others.

On many of these horizons,

digital dystopias loom large,

our chosen future may feature facial recognition,

a technology which today is being used by

police to survey all citizens,

despite a false-positive rate above 90%.

A technology touted as a way to

detect sexual orientation or a way to

identify potential criminals or terrorists before they strike.

 

So, maybe our chosen future will,

with facial recognition technology,

offer up some macabre and

digital reflection of phrenology,

where our appearance alone is evidence of criminality.

Where every tool is of surveillance,

building a map of our movements,

our friendships our emotions or perhaps our

chosen future will be shaped by

autonomous weapons, there are

international efforts to ban these,

but the progress is patchy.

Exactly the countries you would expect are dragging their heels.

There is a good chance we will face a

future in which autonomous weapons,

we believe them to be abhorrent and

up acceptable right up to the point in which

our enemies deploy them and then

we find a new arms race begins or

maybe, a group will use cheap autonomous

drones to terrorise society.

 

The good news is that these particular dystopias are elected.

There is nothing inevitable about these dark futures.

We can restrict, we can regulate.

We can abandon these protectories.

The bad news is that there is one

dystopia that stretches across all possible futures.

And that, of course, is climate change.

Thanks to the lag between emissions and impacts,

and the awful physics of our immense atmosphere,

it is certain that things will get worse for decades,

before they get better.

The punishment is in the post.

The only question now is:

How bad things will get.

 

For years climate scientists have had to

tiptoe around the topic,

they couched their language,

wary of being labelled alarmists.

Realising at last alarmism is justified.

The opening sentence of David Wallace Wells' book

opens with a punch to the gut

"It is worse, much worse than you think."

Our climate trajectory is going to

be decided within the next couple of decades.

We at least get to choose our own Apocalypse.

Compared to global preindustrial temperatures,

maybe we will end up with just 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

This is a figure we all know,

the intended limit of the Paris Accord.

But even this figure will see five million

square kilometres of permafrost melted by 2300.

It'll see half of the world's population facing

severe heatwaves every 20 years.

It'll leave 130 million people exposed to

severe drought and create by some

estimates an 8% drop in global GDP per capita.

 

Now this 1.5-degree target unfortunately is

almost certainly lost, we are at about 1.1 already.

The US, as we know, has withdrawn from Paris,

Brazil threatening to follow suit.

And those who remain fall far short of their pledges already.

Maybe we will end up with 3 degrees,

3 degrees of warming we can expect

extended droughts,

crop failures and significant geopolitical breakdown.

The promise of the eternal growth age was

one of positive benefits for everyone.

Some profit, sure but certainly the curve only goes up.

It seems impossible this mentality will

provide this huge productivity and

output losses that happen at 3 degrees of warming.

So, the implication then, is clear:

In place of the at least theoretical

positive sum systems will revert to zero systems,

isolation, nationalism, resource force, if you win, I lose.

 

The UN world meteorological org look at the pledges.

They see three degrees as a likely minimum.

A 5-degree future is almost unimaginable.

Facing temperatures, from 55 million years ago,

major cities, Osaka, Shanghai,

Miami, Jakarta, wiped out.

The Hajj pilgrimage,

for example would be a physical impossibility.

Can there would be desert.

Canada and Siberia would become

among the planet's less fertile lands.

Recent Syrian crisis expelled some five million

refugees and their arrival into

Europe pushed the continent into the hands of the far right.

At five degrees of warming we can

expect around 20 times that number of climate refugees.

 

Put simply at five degrees of warming,

human society devolves into a naked fight for survival.

Sadly, five degrees may be where we

are headed without urgent reduction in emissions.

This time we are the asteroid. 

And in recent years I have become known as

a vocal person in the field of technology ethics.

I have no doubt at all in saying that

climate is the moral issue of our

generation and probably our century.

Now I'm not seeing tech issues,

like algorithmic bias or addiction or

privacy are not important,

they deserve our attention but they are

rather like worrying about cholesterol or

clutching a stab wound.

Climate will exacerbate all the injustices of our world,

racism, oppression, poverty, war.

It will become a Dam clean backdrop to future generations.

 

Since World War II we have had a

huge increase in standards of living across

most of the world, almost all predicated upon

burning fossil fuels, this is an addictive lifestyle.

It will be extremely hard to give up.

We will hold tight to every pleasure,

even as we rock together toward the grain.

But whether you believe modern society as we know it now,

whether you think it is a force for good or

not is frankly immaterial,

it cannot and will not last,

it cannot and will not last.

Now in an abstract existential way,

I think anyone who is paying some attention knows this,

but when you really assess what it means,

the personal living experience of this upheaval,

it is an agonising realisation.

This change requires nothing less than mourning,

we have to grieve for this familiar way of life.

 

We have to go through those familiar steps,

denial, anger, bargaining, depression,

before we get to acceptance.

Hopefully we do that quickly,

while there is still time to create

something better on the other side.

But I think this gnawing loss is more

difficult for people like us, for designers,

because of course, we have been entirely complicit,

we are partly responsible for this coming crisis.

In 1971 Victor Papanek savaged designers for

their contributions for their environmental degradation.

There are professionals more harmful to industry design,

he said but only a few of them.

 

It is tempting to think that doesn't apply to

people like us, to the world of digital work,

after all we deal in abstraction of information,

we are not the people creating landfill and pollution.

But I don't think that distinction holds,

we don't get to wriggle off that hook of responsibility.

Just ask the software engineer who

cheated Volkswagen's emissions tests.

We live in a hybridised era where

products and experiences are

increasingly digital and physical and

the technologies we build most of them

run on electricity often from dirty sources.

The greenhouse gas emissions of

data centres are now equivalent to

those of the entire aviation industry.

So we have to examine our approaches and

the values that we hold dear.

Ours first for exemplary user experience has

created upgrade cycles among the most

aggressive in all of consumer goods,

people buy a new phone every couple of

years in pursuit of the latest hot app.

They IOT devices with irreplaceable batteries.

 

Indeed perhaps the very idea of

user centred design is part of the problem,

we trained ourselves to focus with laser like

precision on the needs of the user,

helping the user achieve their goal,

sadly that goal a lot of the time is buy more,

consume more, emit more, everything more,

more, more and that precision has blinded,

for years we have overlooked the

unintended consequences of our work,

the harms that might fall on people who are not users,

that fall on neighbourhoods,

communities, ecologies.

User experiences is a dream come true for

an individual but a potential nightmare for society.

 

We should of course start to address these

issues but unfortunately,

I see our industry going in the other direction.

The main trends that I see in digital design

today centre on effectiveness, design systems,

they are about making the modern team more scalable,

more efficient, in other words making the

modern team more compliant and

acquiescent to business as usual,

the compact same scorched earth growth hacking

business as usual that's dragging us to

the five degree catastrophe.

Even the tech ethics movement has fallen into

habits of focussing on trivial and surface level stuff.

 

This has been critiqued brilliantly by three

scholars at the University of Washington and

they proposed a paper for Ki,

it's a very significant academic HCI conference and in this paper,

they talk about a hypothetical algorithm that

decides which senior citizens are

selected to be mulched and fed into high nutrient slurry.

They suggested changes to reduce its inherent

biosystem just as the literature on

algorithmic ethics suggests.

Such with the simple ethical sweets,

we have a way that we can be sure that

elderly people are selected for being

processed into high nutrient slurry and

fed to the living in a far more fair,

accountable and transparent manner.

 

We are squandering our global responsibilities on

minutiae and trivia;

we are stoking the engines more efficiently as

the ship is going down.

So where would our time actually be well spent,

what can we do to tackle this crisis at the properly level.

The climate crisis it requires interventions from

every aspect of society, it needs protesters,

it needs organisers, regulators, voters,

scientists, but there are plenty of

personal tactics we can deploy as well.

Here are some.

But I am not going to go into these.

This isn't really the right forum to do so.

Maybe take a photo if you are

interested and reflect yourself.

There will be more information at the

URL at the bottom.

But I do have a couple of comments on

this list before we move on.

 

Here we have a mix of changes that are individual,

personal changes, and changes or suggestions that

are intended to create some kind of

system level response and

we will come back to that die cot mi shortly.

But suffice to say one danger of the

modern world and its atomised nature is

that it tends to individualise problem.

Individual action on its own won't

really achieve much, but if you personally

feel driven to change your own habits and

I think many of us perhaps should,

then these may well be good starting points.

There are also useful professional tactics of course.

But again, maybe a surprise,

I don't really want to go into these too much either.

I don't want to provide a check list for

how we can try to tackle this problem.

I want to try and do something else here,

I want to talk about a new role for design amid the chaos.

How designers can lift our eyes to the horizon and

inspire change that's more fundamental than this.

Because I think we do have plenty that we can offer.

 

The technology industry holds an enormous amount of power,

more than perhaps any other group we get to

depict and to realise what happens next in our world.

You could argue that power is hardly

warranted and it's also been bestowed upon

us with far too little oversight and

that's true and that should scare us a

little bit but I think also the onus or

even the moral obligation is on us to

wield that power positively,

to try to build better worlds.

I think designers in the tech industry also

have remarkable power.

That might be hard to see from the inside,

we get browbeaten by imposter syndrome,

KPIs, smothered by the juggernaut of

process management and agile and

lean start up, but none of that really matters.

 

The superpower that designers have,

the talent that equips us to make meaningful

contributions on tackling the world's

biggest problems, is ewe make futures visible.

Society struggles to think intelligently about

the future I think,

because it is a thought interment.

We are asking people to imagine what

might happen and make decisions based on that hallucination.

Design can make this more real.

We can paint a picture of what

various futures might actually look like.

We can do that by making products of course,

but we can also create speculative objects that

invite discussion and inspire change.

We can prototype a world yet to come.

In the emerging field of speculative design,

these artefacts are sometimes called design fictions.

Sometimes they are designed objects themselves.

 

This is the transparent charging station by a

Dutch firm called The Incredible Machine and

I have seen this, it is a great big prototype,

trying to explore what charging infrastructure for

electric vehicles might look like in a decade or two.

And what's interesting about this is they have actually,

the designers have used this design fiction to

ask deep moral questions as well,

how do we avoid the potential inequalities

that might result from a system like that.

They prototype the RID cards you might use to

authenticate the system and

they come with different social statuses.

A doctor for instance has potentially priority

within the system whereas a recent offender

might find their energy use is capped.

 

So we can create these objects to invite that discussion,

to pre-empt it if you like,

or sometimes we need to tell a

design fiction as part of a wider and

larger story in which case designers compare

with writers and filmmakers, comic strip artists,

anyone really who can build hypothetical worlds in

which these designed objects feel at home.

This is a film called Frames.

I think it's a remarkable piece of design fiction.

It's an unnamed woman pushing against the

seams of total surveillance using mysterious generosity.

Works like Frames for me help to make the future feel more real, the hidden becomes more visible.

So they help people experience and

to feel what would otherwise be these hypothetical situations.

And that means it's easier for people to

understand what might happen next.

We might say it improves people's temporal

literacy and their ability to read and

understand potential futures.

 

Why is this so important,

well for me it's because people can then

have a fairer say, the future comes to the people,

it's no longer the domain of professionals and

nerds like ourselves,

the public gets to approve and

push back against any particular future.

We are talking about experiences here,

designing experiences and so this

should make us happy,

this is something within this room

we are pretty good at.

But today's practices for me I see that

they are near term and generally supportive of

these Silicon Valley ideals of bringing products to

markets, users to consume.

 

This new role for design is a bit different.

It's speculative, it's not just focussed on delivery.

It's critical, it's not just playing along

with a dominant ideologies.

It's focussed on the wellbeing of society and

of the planet, not just the success of the user.

Designers will always have to be

involved in giving birth to new technologies,

we don't stop doing the stuff on the left hand side here.

Hopefully those technologies become

more sustainable and more just technologies.

But I think it's crucial that we start to

balance those delivery mind sets,

with new modes of design,

speculative design, critical design,

longterm futures thinking.

 

Because our futures particularly those that

are influenced by climate are full of

maybes and perhapses, they really invite that

kind of speculative approach.

Some of these futures,

some of these frictions we tell will be dystopian,

we saw slaughter bots at the beginning here,

this is mitigation of shock by a

London speculative design studio called

Super Flux and they prototyped a

London flat from 2050,

built to cope with the awful impacts of climate change.

It is a kitchen sink dystopia of

desperate attempts to cultivate food

complete with a recipe for fox creole.

Those sorts of dystopias, they have value,

this is a fine piece of work.

 

Things like this can alert people to the

dangers to the risks ahead and

they can challenge some of the decisions that

we take today, decisions that look innocuous,

but then when taken to some harmful extreme,

soon become anything but.

So dystopias can create this appetite for evasive action,

I suppose.

But dystopias are also somewhat limited.

They can motivate change but they

can also paralyse and ostracise,

they can cause inaction, they can cause

us there's nothing left that we can do.

That fatalism is particularly dangerous

when it comes to climate.

It will cause us to withdraw from the problem,

to focus on coping rather than fixes.

 

It is a realm of the so-called eco-fashion

movement or the billionaire preppers who

are planning their escape to cabins in the

woods or to Mars, whichever one it is,

there are lots of guns involved in that scenario.

I think these cautionary tales;

these terrifying tales have to be broken down.

But we have to look at a positive world to come,

positive visions that inspire us,

I'm not necessarily talking about Utopias,

we have plenty of meaningless Utopias,

something like this Microsoft Vision video a

mere extension of where we are right now.

There is no message here,

except that the status quo will accelerate.

Work and productivity and capitalism will

be flung on to any available surface.

 

And of course, there are dangerous Utopias as well.

Political extremism has often come from Utopia,

the idea of perhaps a purity of bloodline or

the infallibility of the state or of the church.

I think what we need instead are meaningful,

realistic, imperfect but compelling visions,

visions that make us dream that we

want to help navigate toward.

Visions like Solarpunk.

Solarpunk is a part a literary movement,

part a collaborative work of design fiction,

part a protest group, part fan fiction,

all trying to answer the question:

What does sustainable civilisation

look like and how do we get there?

 

Solarpunk focuses on infrastructure as a

form of resistance, these are societies built with

resilience for whatever futures ahead of

us throw at us, with independence rather than

isolation, with community ingenuity,

not this top-down Messianic control.

 

This is optimistic, compare it to

Cyber Punk with a deeply nihilistic attitude.

It is futuristic, compared to steam punk

and regressive nostalgia. 

And that to me is the power of these positive visions.

A dystopia gives people something to run away from.

Better futures give people something to run toward.

And with climate we already know the solutions,

we know what we have to do,

we have to cut emissions vastly,

perhaps 50% in the next decade and

down it zero within maybe 20 more than that.

What we lack is the urgency and

the will to make that change happen.

But we can help to create this urgency and

this desire for action by changing that narrative,

this fatalist narrative, twisting it around and

offering hope on the other side.

 

That morning that I talked about is vital,

but we also need hope on the other side to

drag people through it, and on to make positive change.

Hope is a political cliché and also a

climate cliché, if you read any climate literature there

has to be affection and uplift at the

end to say - we still have some

time to change this.

Some people disagree and

say the hope is gone; I refuse to believe that.

Hope is a way for me to cling to our humanity,

inoculate ourselves against fatalism.

The intention, the hope behind hope,

if you like, is, of course, that it drives some change,

but what sort of change do we really want?

Do we want to prioritise change within individuals,

or change within the overarching system?

 

And this is almost a who will holy war,

in any complex system or any community like

the climate or ethics community.

It is politicised.

The right leanings on individual responsibility

taking ownership of your own actions,

the left tends to believe that systems sort of

overwhelm all that stuff, so really,

we need to focus there.

But, surely the only meaningful response

is to do both.

When you see the iceberg right ahead,

carving off from a doomed glacier,

you throw every engine into reverse.

In truth, I actually think that is a false dichotomy,

they both affect each other.

 

The systems at play on the right here are

economic and political.

They are hard to directly attack.

They really only change with

external pressure from voters,

from consumers, donors.

Fortunately, with climate there is now some

evidence that building this kind of pressure and

support is easier than we once feared.

For example, friends and family play a

huge role in shaping individual beliefs.

 This astonishing study was published a

couple of weeks ago and the conclusion of

this paper was - essentially that differences in

beliefs and attitudes around climate are

much smaller if people have close friends and

family who care about the topic.

Researchers call this

"high social condition census"

the green bars on the right.

 

The individuals who have people

around them who cared about climate change.

And even the simplest belief

- is global warming a phenomenon?

There is a huge increase in support for

that hypothesis, even amongst self-described

Conservatives in the US who have been

resistant to the huge increase as

close friends and family express an interest in the topic.

We have found this across the most

important question on climate,

that it is caused by humans,

that we should worry about the topic.

And that we should regulate carbon dioxide,

for example, as a pollutant.

These are remarkable findings.

I think they are promising for

people like us who are wrestling with

these wicked problems.

 

This suggests the concern and the

hope are contagious, even the most

ardent opponents can be challenged and views changed.

I think we should feel emboldened by research like this.

Most importantly, for me,

the study suggests that the real picture is

something a bit more like this,

individual change snowballed into collective change.

And collective change has a real chance of

permeating the structures,

the systems that have otherwise been impenetrable.

These economic and political systems.

Just this morning the UK Government announced

that we are going to aim for net zero emissions by 2050.

This is great news but I'm pretty sure

they wouldn't have done that without the

recent extinction rebellion protests which

have helped to permeate this collective consciousness.

So, this gives me at least some

renewed hope that we can make systemic

change by inspiring individuals and

by inspiring collectives alike by

helping them to see brighter futures.

 

Now, to do that, designers need new skills.

We need to learn from or partner with the artists,

the writers, the critics, the technologists,

already in this kind of space.

We will need to improve our knowledge of

- maybe we will call them the narrative arts

- of writing, story-telling, film-making.

We will need to better-understand the

worlds of futuring and foresight.

We need to increase our political and

ethical literacy and dive ever-deeper into

the complex world of systems thinking.

But I think our mindsets have to change along with that.

Particularly, I think we have to learn to

replace the crutch of empathy with genuine inclusivity.

It's not going to work if we just imagine from

afar what it might be like to live in a

developing nation that is at risk most from climate change.

 

We should instead involve those communities,

empower them to create their own

positive visions and solutions.

Decolonising our design practices,

dropping this pretence that we can just

step into someone else's shoes.

I think we need to develop and build understanding,

intuition to where we may be headed towards harm,

where the old patterns of design may be

undermining our best efforts at reform.

If I may, I will offer a few thoughts on that myself.

If your work is predicated upon endless growth,

if you have not stopped to consider the

potential harm your work might be doing,

if you are focussed entirely on shareholder value,

if you treat people as means and not ends,

if you spend weeks on onboarding for your

product and don't give a fig about the end of life,

if you try to increase inner central consumption or

productivity without considering wider social well-being,

if you focus just on the best case,

and not every case,

if you rely upon complex physical supply

chains stretching the globe and of course if

your work doesn't make you proud,

then you might just be contributing to

climate crisis and, likely,

other injustices as well.

 

Now, many of these are political points and

it has become a modern cliché to say that

design is and always has been political.

But it is true.

It maybe that it has appeared not to

be over the last couple of decades but

that's only because it is aligned invincibly with

the default politics of the time.

The supposedly non-political design that

we have practised all this time is the

same design that is now taking us towards climate dystopia.

And similarly, design has always been ethical.

Because when you design,

you are making a claim about what should be,

what should happen next,

about how we should live in years to come and

simultaneously we are discarding,

we are throwing away thousands of alternative futures.

So, ethics and politics have always

weaved their way through our work and

through each other.

Politics essentially acts as a moral multiplier.

 

So, this ethically and politically-loaded work,

it is going to be a challenge to

quite a lot of people.

It will upset and scare people.

Particularly our corporate peers,

the very people who we try to impress,

who we have learned to trust designs as

essentially a competitive advantage all this time.

They will tell us that speculative or

critical design are incompatible with a

way that we want to run our businesses and,

of course, that is the whole point of it.

Tech companies have tried,

for decades now to cling to

some semblance of neutrality on critical issues,

so scared of alienating half the user base or

of upsetting regulators or politicians but

I think the present crisis shows that

simply is no longer sustainable.

If in doubt, your loyalty now has to

be to the world and not to your employer.

 

Speaking personally,

I don't want a seat at the table.

I want to flip that table.

Now, of course I say that from a

position of significant privilege.

As an independent, and senior member industry,

I don't answer to anyone.

I have the luxury to be able to make

bold statements like that while stood on stage,

not everyone else has those advantages and

I don't criticise anyone who doesn't feel able to

take that strong a stand.

But I will say this:

If you feel safe and comfortable and

respected within your job, within your industry,

within your career, then you are in the

perfect position to use up just a bit of

that goodwill to push for the change

that we urgently need.

 

We shouldn't be dissuaded from

the magnitude of that fight.

Our peers in technology will tend to

fall back on technological solutions to climate.

We can expect to see a lot more progress in

geoengineering, spraying the sun's ray or

carbon capture schemes.

These may help and be part of the

solution but any new technology will come with

a set of unintended consequences that may be as bad.

They cannot be the only solutions.

The future needs people like us,

people who excel at behaviour,

at systems thinking, of analysing problems to

really identify and address the root causes.

I think these speculative and critical and

future-leaning approaches will help us to

make valuable contributions.

I would say design's most important role

today is to help us survive the century.

I don't think it is a melodramatic statement

given the magnitude of the task.

 

Hopefully we can address that with

more sustainable products but with

more new designs that will help people

experience a better world to come that will

mobilise people for individual and

collective and systemic change.

And we have got to do it quickly.

Alex, a climate campaigner has this

fantastic and horrifying quote

"When it comes to climate winning

slowly is the same as losing." 

We shouldn't be under any

illusions there’s a chance we will lose the fight.

Maybe our weak ideologies are too strongly held.

Maybe the change that is so necessary lies just beyond our grasp.

But even if that is how it ends up,

even if those few shards of hope that

we have proven too insubstantial,

we still must try.

And I think find some fab and

proud comfort in the words of Kelly Hayes:

"If the end really is only a few decades away,

and no human intervention can stop it,

then who do you want to be at the end of the world?

And what will you say to the people you

love when time runs out?" 

If it comes to that,

I plan on being able to tell them

I did everything I could.

Thank you.