Assignment 2: From Human to Machine


The industrial age was an era of optimization. Its aim was to improve the quality of life and reduce the toil of humanity through the introduction of mechanized products. Washing machines, bar codes, telephones and pneumatic tubes all shifted labor from people to machine in order to free society from mundane tasks.

The electronic age has expanded the reach and importance of automated processes — so much so that the lack of human labor, attention, and interaction is alarming in many scenarios. Google cars drive themselves, drone planes bomb for us, automated thermostats adjust room temperatures, while our computers deliver the news and mail, even when we are not in front of our computers.

This assignment asks you to consider how what we make as designers effects human interactions on the micro and macro scale. Using your everyday interactions as inspiration, invent a new machine or automated process that alters or replaces a presently human-controlled action.

Weeks One and Two:

Note your everyday actions; go out of your way to notice how technology does and does not effect your everyday actions. When do human interactions occur? How would the introduction of a machine enhance or hinder the interaction. What would the advantages or disadvantages be if the machine took over? How can you use sarcasm, exaggeration, appropriated voice to make a point?

Present your research and preliminary idea in class on March 18. Spring break is the week after this.

Due April 1:

Present your project in class on the day we return from Spring Break. Your deliverable will depend on your invention, but may be a presentation, a model or a digital demo. Be prepared to discuss your project in terms of its value to human society. What expectation do you intend to have by replacing the human interaction with an automated one.

Your project can be revised after this week, but will not be critiqued.

Assignment objectives:

– Increase sensitivity to the integration of machines in everyday life
– Build research and rhetorical skills
– Integrate artistic voice within the design problem
– Produce an off-paper deliverable
– Encourage team-building around shared values


Leave a Reply