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Machines, democracies and post-human design

Theme: Artificial Realities


  • Prof. Stefano Maffei, Politecnico di Milano
  • Prof. Leon Cruickshank, Lancaster University


  • Nina Trivedi, Royal College of Art, UK
  • Malé Luján Escalante, Lancaster University, UK
  • Massimo Bianchini, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • Paolo Volontè, Politecnico di Milano, Italy


Design is at the start of a period of radical change. The traditional role of the designer as the gatekeeper of our relationship with the “means of production” is changing profoundly. The ability to design and make things is being democratised, changing the ways in which products and services can be made and implemented.

Now people can make and control their own designs. Very soon, this will be complemented by non-human entities, digital algorithms or machines which will have autonomous agency and will be skilled and creative in their own ways.

Their rights and participation will have to be considered when we design, requiring a fundamental shift in the way we think about design itself.


  • What could be the role of technology in shaping the future of design discipline?
  • Why the change of traditional manufacturing process undermines the classical role of design as the generator of new products-services?
  • What will be the impact of AI/machine learning in the traditional set of designer’s skills and capabilities?
  • Data and data science will be part of the transformation of design heuristics?
  • How distributed technology (artefacts, infrastructures, systems) will change society and societal change?
  • How the controversial singularity question will be connected to the evolution of the discipline?
“Almost everybody I know has this sense of overdosing on information and getting dizzy living at post-human speeds.”
Pico Iyer