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/


(別通知) (可選) 請,登錄

// “使用設計作爲推測事物可能的方式” - 推測性設計


// “在自然界中,摩擦會產生火,而火可能具有破壞性,但它也可以 [..] 再生”



// 我想進行一個實驗,讓我們中的一羣人聚在一起,共同解決這個問題,看看會發生什麼。你會感興趣嗎?你對這個想法有什麼想法和反饋嗎?


// "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.

    :  -- 
    : bobi.rakova
    :  -- 


嘿[bobi.rakova],很高興看到你的想法進入更廣闊的世界!正如我們在 Signal 上談到的那樣,我將嘗試分享我們迄今爲止所討論的內容!並添加更多反饋。


在設計方法上創新 AI 的設計方式:

  • 包括設計過程中的“摩擦、暫停、反思、觀察”階段。與旨在更快地生成解決方案的當前設計技術相反,後者主要服務於業務目標,並不總是與用戶的更高需求(如幸福感、正念、明智的決策、批判性思維的發展)相關聯。

  • 使用來自投機小說世界的元素將設計過程遊戲化。

  • 在遊戲中使用“火”作爲隱喻,作爲轉變的象徵(在創作過程中,火意味着通過解決問題和治癒來表達自己,在對話中,火意味着能量和混合各種力量 - 思想)。

  • 使 AI 設計過程具有參與性(“爲最終用戶設計”,而不是“爲”設計),用戶參與如您所說的實時講故事遊戲,參與者通過遊戲探索多個用戶旅程。

你知道 Time Well Spent 特里斯坦哈里斯引發的運動?也許他們有興趣測試這個想法。

這個想法也與我與 [Mindey] 討論的內容有關——關於一種名爲 ThinkTech 的新型技術——該技術的設計目的不是爲了成癮和盲目快速消費內容,而是爲了緩慢的互動、批判性思維、有意義的對話。

讓我們都腦筋急轉彎! :D


附言鏈接在 Markdown 中:) 這裏是如何添加鏈接的步驟

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

    :  -- 
    : bobi.rakova
    :  -- 


謝謝 Mindey 和 Ruta 非常周到的回覆!!

這樣一場比賽的得分是多少,這將如何衡量? - 目前,我的想法是遊戲每次迭代的目標是讓參與者共同創造一組獨特的故事。遊戲機制基於選擇你自己的冒險兒童讀物系列(這是我成長過程中最喜歡的東西)。然而,這裏的遊戲機制是 (1) 還利用 來自未來研究領域的回溯概念 和 (2) 它有一個集體元素 -我們,作爲這個特定遊戲迭代的參與者,正在共同創造一組獨特的推測場景,關於我們如何從現在轉移到另一個未來。我想知道我們如何才能更好地利用多人一起做這個批判性思維練習的集體方面?


我認爲這個想法需要一個宣言......我認爲它更像是一種社交運動,而不是娛樂或賺錢的遊戲。我仍然不知道宣言將是什麼,但我認爲它必須設置舞臺 - 我們爲什麼要這樣做?遊戲特定迭代的目的是什麼?參與者同意的共同價值觀和意圖是什麼?

<font color="green">您如何看待一場世界性的社會運動,邀請參與者共同探索我們如何設計人工智能來實現我們想要的替代未來?</font>

具體來說,我正在考慮遊戲的迭代,它專注於 AI 系統的環境影響,並探索 AI 影響的環境正義鏡頭。迭代的目標是邀請參與者推測我們如何以更公平的方式爲不同的人羣以及非人類物種和生態系統設計人工智能。

是的,這是 ThinkTech,我喜歡它 Ruta!也感謝您的 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

    :  -- 
    : Ruta
    :  -- 




如果是後者,即“讓我們進行這種形式的對話,它將改變 AI 設計”,那麼它是有目的的活動邀請,而不是可以移動山脈(產生重大影響)的發明。例如,這些用於投機思維的遊戲化對話可能會吸引訪問者。

所以,這是一個 [-] 的想法,因爲它似乎缺乏關於如何擴大規模或在社會上傳播以到達 AI 研究人員和從業者社區的基本原理,以及一個我們可以嘗試做的活動的 []意圖,並希望它會。

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.

    :  -- 
    : Ruta
    :  -- 


感謝您發送此討論的鏈接。似乎遊戲或場景探索可以幫助領域專家瞭解他們工作的影響。 【場景探索系統】(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.

    :  -- 
    : Mindey, Ruta
    :  -- 


很好奇,如果這個想法是一個“實時敘事遊戲”(來自副標題),那麼這個遊戲將如何運作呢?假設 5 個人聚在一起,然後會發生什麼? :)

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
    :  -- 
    :  -- 


您可以使用 Game Design Deck 的在線 Art 來獲得靈感 <https://deck.artofgamedesign.com/

You can use the online Art of Game Design Deck to get inspiration https://deck.artofgamedesign.com/#/divination/?lang=en

    :  -- 
    : Ruta
    :  --