Time: Saturday, February 29⋅2:15pm – 3:15pm
Location: John Crerar Library 390
People’s ability to envision the future tends to fall between two unhealthy and unconstructive extremes. On one side, there are those who are blindly optimistic about technology. This attitude is sometimes termed “technosolutionism”, the naïve idea that every problem can be solved with technology. At the other extreme are those so critical of technology that they adopt an unrealistic Luddite attitude, avoiding technology altogether; or they assume that a dystopian future is inevitable and, as a result, become passive. Critical optimism navigates between these two extremes, encouraging an earnest hopefulness that also incorporates a healthy dose of criticality. What futures are possible, which are probable, and, most importantly, which might be preferred?
Sophia Brueckner is a futurist artist/designer/engineer. Inseparable from computers since the age of two, she believes she is a cyborg. As a software engineer at Google, she built products used by tens of millions. She received her MFA from RISD and MS from the MIT Media Lab where she investigated the simultaneously empowering and controlling aspects of technology with a focus on wearables. At the University of Michigan, she teaches Sci-Fi Prototyping, a course combining sci-fi, prototyping, and ethics. Her work has been featured internationally by Artforum, SIGGRAPH, The Atlantic, Wired, NPR, Eyeo, Smithsonian Magazine, and more. Brueckner is the founder and creative director of Tomorrownaut, a creative studio focusing on speculative futures and sci-fi-inspired prototypes. She is currently an artist in residence at Nokia Bell Labs, and her ongoing objective is to combine her background in art, design, and engineering to inspire a more positive future.