V I V I A N G E O R G E
Would you want to have your phone in your head? Well well well... This is our video with our service concept that we created.
FUTURE OF HAPPINESS
January- March 2018
Royal College of Art, London
We were given the task to look at designing a service that helps us understand and engage with a new understanding of happiness in the future.
This project was a speculative project looking at emerging technologies and it's implications on social contexts and the power to shape behaviour change.
We imagined possible future scenarios from mass climate migration to autonomous warfare weaponry and robotics where we analysed the varied forms of happiness that can emerge and tried to understand how, as service designers, could we use these technologies to restore, what we believe as the essential types of happiness. We decided to focus on BCI technology which is a non-invasive brain-computer interface.
Brain-Computer Interface (BCIs)
BCI's, more specifically Neuralace founded by Elon Musk in 2016. A BCI is a communication pathway between your brain and a computerised device.
Our team researched the current capabilities of BCI, which are currently used for medical purposes and extrapolated the potential of BCI technology in 20 years time. Neuralink is working on an alternative called Neural lace, a non-invasive injection of a tiny neural mesh of electrodes. This would mean that BCIs will have commercial potential which in turn can become a substitute for all types of personal smart devices.
BCI has many potential capabilities from searching the web, communicating with people, streaming content all within the brain. One can also record everything they experience from the emotions, senses and can transfer those specific signals to other individuals.
With this moon-shot technology, there are associated risks. The implications of social relations will dramatically change. From being able to order food through your thoughts to playing games on a whole new immersive level, your ability to entertain yourself to process information becomes a whole lot easier all within the safety of your own home.
Furthermore, with the possibility of experiencing, both sensorially and emotionally, the lives of other people such as celebrities, scientists, athletes, why would people even bother living a mediocre life and put in an effort to improve their life satisfaction when they could live the life of the elite and escape their reality.
Significant amounts of research have been done to understand the brain especially in the fields of neurotechnology.
Implications on Happiness
The implications of this potentially commercialised BCI could make individuals feel more isolated and less comfortable interacting with colleagues, mutual friends and most definitely strangers in the Long Run. Memory sharing and VR experiences all within BCIs result in this concept of what we believe to be called “simulated” happiness as you feel happy through other peoples’ emotions, instead of experiencing your own sources of positive feelings. As a result, BCI technology can have negative repercussions on our emotions, particularly happiness.
We initially looked at the varying forms of happiness or ways people measure happiness. But happiness is highly subjective and broad so defined it as an amalgamation of emotionally satisfying moments for you.
We approached happiness in a completely different route, so instead of seeing how our technology impacts happiness using a measurement like the World Happiness Index or the Better Life Index which is a combination of parameters . We based our happiness topic on the Grant Study.
So how might we tackle the issues of isolation between people as a result of BCI technology?
MIA (Meaningful Interactions Assistant)
We created MIA, a service that you to feel each other's emotions to cultivate empathy in your existing relationships and assist you through your interactions and emotions with the help of your personalised AI.
(Watch the video on the top of the page)
We started thinking in this future scenario, who the key interactions will be and the revenue streams we could potentially get.
This is where our service proposition becomes rather dystopian. As shown in the Business Model, the revenue stream for this service could be through selling people's psychographic profiles. For example, based on your real-time emotions you could advertise and leverage them.