Spooky Technology – DaraghByrne.me

Daragh Byrne Associate Teaching Professor
School of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University. Courtesy appointment in the School of Design.

Spooky Technology

Dates 2020 - date

Collaborators Dan Lockton, School of Design

Spooky Technology explores creative research opportunities around our understanding of the invisible technologies in our everyday lives, from objects with ‘intelligence’ to systems in our homes that talk to us (and each other).

We often hear that the technologies in our everyday lives would appear to be ‘magic’ and potentially terrifying to people in the past—instantaneous communication with people all over the world, access to a vast, ever-growing resource of human knowledge right there in the palm of our hand, objects with ‘intelligence’ that can sense and talk to us (and each other). But rarely are these ‘otherworldly’ dimensions of technologies explored in more detail. There is an often unspoken presumption that the march of progress will inevitably mean we all adopt new practices, and incorporate new products and new ways of doing things into our lives—all cities will become smart cities; all homes will become smart homes. But these systems have become omnipresent without our necessarily understanding them.

They are not just black boxes, but invisible: entities in our homes and everyday lives which work through hidden flows of data, unknown agendas, imaginary clouds, mysterious sets of rules which we perhaps dismiss as ‘algorithms’ or even ‘AI’ without really understanding what that means. On some level, the superstitions and sense of wonder, and ways of relating to the unknown and the supernatural (deities, spirits, ghosts) which humanity has felt in every culture throughout history have not gone away, but started to become transferred and transmuted into new forms.

What creative research opportunities are there at this intersection? This project aims to investigate these opportunities, in the process enabling students to gain familiarity with an under-explored dimension of our relationship with technology.

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