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  • Writer's pictureJade Tang-Taylor

Shaping Tomorrow: Design, Tech, and Innovation Unveiled

In the ever-evolving landscape of design, technology, and innovation, we find ourselves at the intersection of incredible possibilities. It's a realm where ideas transform into solutions and where the future is imagined, designed, and built.

Recently, three speakers shared their insights, painting a vivid picture of this dynamic world. From equity-driven innovations to ethical tech design, from the power of networks to future-focused initiatives, their words revealed a tapestry of themes that define our journey in shaping tomorrow.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into their illuminating contributions, the key themes and insights shared by the speakers to explore the potential of design, tech, and innovation.

Speaker 1 - Alice Dimond Equity Through Innovation

Representing Tokona Te Raki, the Māori future makers, Alice unveiled a mission focused on dismantling deep-rooted inequities faced by Māori communities.

At the heart of their approach is a profound belief in the transformative power of innovation and technology. They envision a future where these tools are not just instruments of progress but also the means to challenge systemic disparities. By intentionally weaving technology into the fabric of change, they strive to create systems that are genuinely inclusive and leave no one behind.

What stands out in this speaker's contribution is the conviction that innovation can be a formidable force for positive change. It's not just about creating innovative solutions; it's about using innovation to tackle the systemic inequalities ingrained in our society. Through this lens, technology becomes a tool to reshape the future, ushering in a world where equity is not an aspiration but an action.

“So there's power in knowing that it was done intentionally, because if it was designed intentionally then we can redesign it! … We need to look at it at a really macro level and reweave a whole new system that works with and for Māori and it's not just kind of tacked on to the side. Part of the way that we do that is through our kawa for Māori future making which is called Te Korekoreka

Speaker 2 - Jon Lee: Ethical Tech Design

Jon Lee's insights revolve around the delicate balance between technology and ethics, as demonstrated in products like Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses.

The integration of cameras and microphones into everyday wearables raises critical questions about data privacy and user rights. Lee emphasises that as technology continues to infiltrate our lives, transparency should be paramount so customers can decide if the benefits are worth sharing their data.

His contribution underscores the need for tech companies to prioritise the real human benefits of their innovations. In an era where data privacy is a concern because of data breaches and unclear sharing and usage, it's crucial to design with a strong ethical foundation. 

User rights and data security should not be afterthoughts but core principles guiding tech design. Jon Lee's perspective serves as a timely reminder that innovation must be accompanied by a deep commitment to the humans the products are in service to.

“I worry about the definitions of success. From being on the inside and designing for big tech, I worry about bigger, better, faster and success metrics around optimisation and massive scale. I worry about who's truly benefitting—especially around who and what gets left behind.” 

Speaker 3 - Victoria Mulligan The Power of Networks

Victoria Mulligan introduces us to the concept of impact networks, where the focus is not just on connections but on intentional collaboration for a shared purpose. 

These networks, she explains, serve as spaces for learning, sharing, and collaborative action. In the context of complex societal and environmental challenges, they transform into what she terms "impact networks."

Mulligan's contribution highlights the potential of these networks to drive collective impact and visibility. They offer a means to bridge divides, foster co-creation of knowledge, and mobilise people around a shared vision. 

In a world characterised by interconnectivity, such networks play a pivotal role in addressing pressing global issues. Her insights encourage us to look beyond traditional boundaries, leverage collective wisdom, and amplify the efforts of those working toward a better future.

“I think our current way of thinking about the future and our capacity to do anything about it is dominated by people in big tech or large businesses, academia, consultancies or even government foresight teams. And to unblock that decision making on complex things, on complex challenges, we need to make sure that the benefits of emerging tech are spread more widely if we're going to be able to get that balance back. So that's something that's constantly on my mind. Really, how do you democratise the future? How do you have people designing something, imagining something? That's what I think we're missing a lot of at the moment. We can only design what we can imagine, and there are more and more people talking about this crisis of imagination that exists at the minute.We actually have the tools and the methods to bring that back into check, but it's just not widely known. It's not broadly shared, and again, I keep going back to networks. I do feel that if we start to build communities of practice, and if we start to build networks around the way that we think about the future, you are democratising it, and you're putting those skills to design a future into the hands of people that can design a better future rather than just an elite few.”

Overall, these three speakers bring unique perspectives to the realms of design, tech, and innovation, emphasising equity, ethics, and collaboration as guiding principles in shaping tomorrow's world.

Key Themes:

As we reflect on these thought-provoking presentations & discussions, several key themes emerged:

Equity Through Innovation: Innovation can be a powerful tool for addressing systemic inequalities. It challenges the status quo and paves the way for inclusive systems that benefit all.

Ethical Tech Design: Integrating technology into our lives demands a strong ethical foundation. Innovation must prioritise user privacy and data security, ensuring that user rights remain intact.

The Power of Networks: Impact networks offer platforms for collaboration and collective action. They bring together diverse voices with a shared purpose, emphasising the potential of collective efforts.

Innovation for Future Generations: Our innovations should not only benefit the present but also future generations. The commitment to shaping a brighter tomorrow echoes prominently in these discussions.

Learning and Adaptation: In the dynamic world of design, tech, and innovation, continuous learning and adaptation are crucial. Staying updated and open to new ideas is fundamental to success.

In the world of design, tech, and innovation, we stand on the cusp of extraordinary possibilities. These five key themes—equity, ethical design, network power, future-focused innovation, and continuous learning—guide our journey toward shaping a more inclusive, ethical, and innovative future.

Together, they inspire us to harness the potential of technology for the greater good, ensuring that our innovations leave a positive legacy for generations to come.

As we navigate this ever-changing landscape, let these themes be our guiding lights, illuminating the path toward a brighter and more innovative tomorrow. With equity as our compass, ethics as our foundation, networks as our support, future generations as our motivation, and learning as our constant companion, we embark on a journey that holds the promise of a better future—for all.


Originally published in academyEX

Date: August 2023

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