Speculation, Friction, and Fire


A real-time storytelling game about using speculation and friction to question the design and use of AI


Here's an idea about a real-time storytelling game in the intersection of Science Fiction, Future Studies, and present-day AI systems.

Speculative Everything is a book I came across which is a collection of projects in the field of speculative and critical design. The general idea is that rather than problem solving, we want "to use design as a means of speculating how things could be—speculative design. This form of design thrives on imagination and aims to open up new perspectives on what are sometimes called wicked problems, to create spaces for discussion and debate about alternative ways of being, and to inspire and encourage people’s imaginations to flow freely. Design speculations can act as a catalyst for collectively redefining our relationship to reality." [1]

Friction is something I think about a lot because of the nature of my work which has to do with investigating the implications of AI. Contrary to the common narrative, I've started thinking of friction of something that can be useful and productive. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing speaks about the friction between dynamic groups that can ultimately bring regeneration. Similarly, in nature, friction makes fire and fire can be destructive but it can also contribute to the healing of diverse ecosystems. I am really curious about useful friction that can inform the design of real world technology today (not in the future). [2]

A goal for the game I'm thinking about is to inspire and co-create an alternative future where we move beyond the experience of blindly taking part in a frictionless world enabled by technology through collective critical thinking and questioning “What is the future we want?”.

I want to run an experiment where a group of us gets together to collectively play this out and see what could emerge. Would you be interested? Do you have any thoughts and feedback about the idea?

Eternally grateful for your help!!

Adding the links to references here as I wasn't able to figure out how to embed links in my post 😂 [1] Speculative Everything: http://dunneandraby.co.uk/content/bydandr/13/0 [2] Anna Tsing has a fascinating book called Friction! See an interview with her about it here: https://www.eurozine.com/zones-of-friction/

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    :  -- 
    : Ruta
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很好奇,如果这个想法是一个“实时叙事游戏”(来自副标题),那么这个游戏将如何运作呢?假设 5 个人聚在一起,然后会发生什么? :)

Curious, if this idea is a "real-time storytelling game" (from the sub-title), so how would this game work exactly? Say 5 people get together and what happens then? :)

    : Inyuki
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感谢您发送此讨论的链接。似乎游戏或场景探索可以帮助领域专家了解他们工作的影响。 【场景探索系统】(https://knowledge4policy.ec.europa.eu/foresight/tool/scenario-exploration-system-ses_en)。


Thanks for the sending the link to this discussion. It seems like gaming or scenario exploration can help domain experts understand the impact of their work. Scenario Exploration System.

What i see in my feeds are both utopic and dystopic views of AI. So this would be one dimension of an exploration. Another dimension could be profit vs human centered.

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    : Mindey, Ruta
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如果是后者,即“让我们进行这种形式的对话,它将改变 AI 设计”,那么它是有目的的活动邀请,而不是可以移动山脉(产生重大影响)的发明。例如,这些用于投机思维的游戏化对话可能会吸引访问者。

所以,这是一个 [-] 的想法,因为它似乎缺乏关于如何扩大规模或在社会上传播以到达 AI 研究人员和从业者社区的基本原理,以及一个我们可以尝试做的活动的 []意图,并希望它会。

So, could explain what your idea promises, in a nutshell? Is it "Let's communicate in this particular (adventurous, gamified) way, and this will improve AI design", or is it more along the line -- "I noticed that you are trying to create a community to steer the AI through public discussion, what about this community game that we could play, and maybe it would grow into something?"?

If it is the former, inviting people to join discussion threads is a pipe dream without a pipeline, and I suggest elaborating of how this would make the promised impact. I could imagine this happening, if this idea were to propose, say, a social propagation scheme, a system for matching and inviting or on-boarding other opponents (or groups of them), so that game the phenomenon would be provably salable. Otherwise, it's unlikely to reach impact.

If it is the latter, i.e., "Let's just have this form of conversation, and it'll transform AI design," then it's an invitation for activity with purpose, rather than an invention that would move the mountains (make big impact). For example, these gamified conversations for speculative thinking may engage visitors here.

So, it's a [-] for an idea, because it seem to lack rationale of how this would scale up or propagate socially to reach the communities of AI researchers and practitioners, and a [+] for an activity that we could try doing with that intent, and with a hope that it would.

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    : Ruta
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谢谢 Mindey 和 Ruta 非常周到的回复!!

这样一场比赛的得分是多少,这将如何衡量? - 目前,我的想法是游戏每次迭代的目标是让参与者共同创造一组独特的故事。游戏机制基于选择你自己的冒险儿童读物系列(这是我成长过程中最喜欢的东西)。然而,这里的游戏机制是 (1) 还利用 来自未来研究领域的回溯概念 和 (2) 它有一个集体元素 -我们,作为这个特定游戏迭代的参与者,正在共同创造一组独特的推测场景,关于我们如何从现在转移到另一个未来。我想知道我们如何才能更好地利用多人一起做这个批判性思维练习的集体方面?


我认为这个想法需要一个宣言......我认为它更像是一种社交运动,而不是娱乐或赚钱的游戏。我仍然不知道宣言将是什么,但我认为它必须设置舞台 - 我们为什么要这样做?游戏特定迭代的目的是什么?参与者同意的共同价值观和意图是什么?

<font color="green">您如何看待一场世界性的社会运动,邀请参与者共同探索我们如何设计人工智能来实现我们想要的替代未来?</font>

具体来说,我正在考虑游戏的迭代,它专注于 AI 系统的环境影响,并探索 AI 影响的环境正义镜头。迭代的目标是邀请参与者推测我们如何以更公平的方式为不同的人群以及非人类物种和生态系统设计人工智能。

是的,这是 ThinkTech,我喜欢它 Ruta!也感谢您的 Markdown 提示

Thank you Mindey and Ruta for the very thoughtful responses!!

What would be the score of such a game, and how would this scale? - Currently, the way I'm thinking about it is that the goal of each iteration of the game is for the participants to co-create a set of unique stories. The game mechanics is based on the choose your own adventure children's book series (which was my favorite thing in the world growing up). However, here the game mechanics is (1) also utilizing the concept of backcasting from the field of Future Studies and (2) there's a collective element to it - we, as the participants in this specific iteration of the game, are co-creating a unique set of speculative scenarios about how do we move from the present to an alternative future. I'm wondering how we could better leverage the collective aspect of multiple people doing this critical thinking exercise together?

I don't think this will be a product but more like a social game to do with a group of people (maybe a card game too?). It doesn't necessarily require technology, however, it is a game about technology - inspiring critical reflections and alternative worldviews. 

I think that the idea requires a manifesto ... I'm thinking of it more like a social movement than a game that entertains or makes money. I still have no idea what the manifesto will be about, but I think it will have to set the stage about - why are we doing this? what is the purpose of a specific iteration of the game? what are the shared values and intentions that participants agree on?

What do you think about a worldbuilding social movement that invites participants to collectively explore how we could design AI that enables the alternative futures we want?

Specifically, I'm thinkinging about an iteration of the game which is focused on the environmental impact of AI systems and exploring an environmental justice lens on the impacts of AI. The goal of the iteration would be to invite participants to speculate about how we could design AI in more equitable ways for diverse human populations as well as non-human species and ecosystems.

Yes, this is a ThinkTech, I love it Ruta! Thank you also for the Markdown hint

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    : Ruta
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嘿[bobi.rakova],很高兴看到你的想法进入更广阔的世界!正如我们在 Signal 上谈到的那样,我将尝试分享我们迄今为止所讨论的内容!并添加更多反馈。


在设计方法上创新 AI 的设计方式:

  • 包括设计过程中的“摩擦、暂停、反思、观察”阶段。与旨在更快地生成解决方案的当前设计技术相反,后者主要服务于业务目标,并不总是与用户的更高需求(如幸福感、正念、明智的决策、批判性思维的发展)相关联。

  • 使用来自投机小说世界的元素将设计过程游戏化。

  • 在游戏中使用“火”作为隐喻,作为转变的象征(在创作过程中,火意味着通过解决问题和治愈来表达自己,在对话中,火意味着能量和混合各种力量 - 思想)。

  • 使 AI 设计过程具有参与性(“为最终用户设计”,而不是“为”设计),用户参与如您所说的实时讲故事游戏,参与者通过游戏探索多个用户旅程。

你知道 Time Well Spent 特里斯坦哈里斯引发的运动?也许他们有兴趣测试这个想法。

这个想法也与我与 [Mindey] 讨论的内容有关——关于一种名为 ThinkTech 的新型技术——该技术的设计目的不是为了成瘾和盲目快速消费内容,而是为了缓慢的互动、批判性思维、有意义的对话。

让我们都脑筋急转弯! :D


附言链接在 Markdown 中:) 这里是如何添加链接的步骤

Hey [bobi.rakova], so good to see your idea entering wider worlds! As we spoke about it on Signal, I'll try to share what we discussed so far! And add some more feedback.

It seems that this idea is about:

Innovating on a design method how AIs are designed:

  • Including "friction, pause, reflection, observation" stages in the design process. Contrary to current design techniques that aim to produce solutions faster, which serves mainly the business goals and not alwaysconnect to the higher needs of the users (like wellbeing, mindfulness, wise decision making, development of critical thinking).

  • Gamifying the design process with elements taken from Speculative Fiction worlds.

  • Using "fire" as a metaphor in the game, as a symbol of transformation (in a creative process fire means expressing oneself through problem solving and healing, in dialogue fire means the energy and mixing diverse forces - thoughts).

  • Making AI design process participatory ("designed with" end users and not "for"), where users involve in a real-time storytelling game as you say, where participants explore multiple user journeys through play.

Do you know the Time Well Spent movement sparked by Tristan Harris? Maybe they'd be interested to test this idea.

This idea also relates to what I discussed with [Mindey] - about a new category of technology called ThinkTech - where technology is designed not for addiction and mindless fast consumption of content but slow interaction, critucal thinking, meaningful dialogue.

Let's brainmelt all! :D


P.S. links are in Markdown :) here are the steps how to add a link

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    : bobi.rakova
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// “使用设计作为推测事物可能的方式” - 推测性设计


// “在自然界中,摩擦会产生火,而火可能具有破坏性,但它也可以 [..] 再生”



// 我想进行一个实验,让我们中的一群人聚在一起,共同解决这个问题,看看会发生什么。你会感兴趣吗?你对这个想法有什么想法和反馈吗?


// "to use design as a means of speculating how things could be" — speculative design

Ok. Speculation in innovation is common: when writing books, making movies, etc.

// "in nature, friction makes fire and fire can be destructive but it can also [..] regenerative"

Ok. There's another saying -- "you can't cook omelet without breaking the eggs."

So, a game of imagining future stories for humanity, attempting to challenge the norms? However, what would be the score of such game, and how would this scale? You're mentioning "spaces for discussions, where imagination flows freely" -- what kind of requirements would there be? Is this idea more of a social pattern, or a product, like perhaps, something like "ClubHouse", but more towards exploring the humanity's futures?

// I want to run an experiment where a group of us gets together to collectively play this out and see what could emerge. Would you be interested? Do you have any thoughts and feedback about the idea?

Surely, I love imaginative and critical discussions. We may think of some time for an ad-hoc meeting.

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    : bobi.rakova
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