Designing predictive relations in more-than-human partnerships

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With the rise of the Internet of Things and the shift from single products to decentralized systems, the functional working of artifacts will be defined for a great part in the digital layer. With the addition of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities, predictive relations are added to the mechanics of designing connected products, with implications for the agency users have in an algorithmic society. 

The potential impact on the design space is explored through a design case of an intelligent object becoming a networked object with added predictive knowledge. This chapter introduces what will be the change that predictions will make to the relation of users and contemporary things[1] on a conceptual level and proposes an approach to how to translate this to new activities in designing networked objects.


The alienating consequences of things that predict

A specific research topic that I have been looking into the last year is the design for predictive relations. What happens when predictive knowledge is emerging from networked objects and does this influence the design practice of the future designer of intelligent things and services. In 2019 he gave a couple of presentations (at IoT Rotterdam, Digital Society School Amsterdam, Sensemakers AMS, Behavior Design AMS) and published a chapter in the ThingsCon RIOT-publication December 2019. The latter gives a good overview of the research topic.

Things become networks, autonomous things with their own agency as result of the developments in artificial intelligence. The character of things is changing into things that predict, that have more knowledge than the human where it interacts with. Things are building a new kind of relations with humans, predictive relations. What is the consequence of these predictive relations on the interaction with humans? Will the things that know more than we humans do, help us understand the complex world, or will the things start to prescribe behavior to us without we even know? What is the role of predictive relations in the design practice of the future designer?

from ‘The Alienated Consequences of Things that Predict’

Read the whole chapter online or download the PDF.

Work in progress model for predictive relations


Welcome to Cities of Things

Dear visitor, welcome to this compact website dedicated to the research activities under the label Cities of Things. As described in the About-page we (Elisa Giaccardi and myself) started shaping this research program at TU Delft Connected Everyday Lab in early 2017, at that moment still as PACT (Partnership in Cities of Things). The post-doc research of Maria Luce Lupetti and Nazli Cila delivered interesting research insights in the form of a workshop-format and papers (see more on Research page). In 2018 we established the Cities of Things Delft Design Lab, mainly to cater to master research projects with industry partners and building more research knowledge.

We noticed more and more attention to the research topic and now in 2020, we are looking into other forms of supporting services in different partnerships. That is one of the main reasons to start this separate website that is a switchboard to current and future initiatives around the theme. Next to being a start page to jump to other places, we will share in this section remarkable results of research and projects. To begin with, thinking about predictive relations, the more specific research I’m running.

To close this welcome, I like to invite you to contact me if you have any idea for corporations, projects, or partnerships. Also if your organisation is looking for exploring the domain of living together with new autonomous things or systems through the research and prototyping by a master student graduation project.