Animals Inc

Artifacts from a future where artificial intelligence and animals team up
Autodesk, Institute for the Future
3 Months
August 2018 - November 2018
3D Printing, Laser Cutting, Woodworking, Illustrator, HTML/CSS, Raspberry Pi
My Role
Artist in Residence

Project Brief

This series of Artifacts from the Future is the outcome of a joint partnership between Autodesk and Institute for the Future (IFTF). The goal was to create objects from a future scenario while showcasing the digital manufacturing capacity of capacity of Atuodesk's Pier9 Workshop.

For this collection of Artifacts I decided to focus on a subject that I've always found fascinating: animal communication, and especially the possibility of technologically mediated communication through Artificial Intelligence.

What are Artifacts from the Future?

Imagine that you could take an archaeologist’s expedition to the future to collect objects and fragments of text or photos to understand what daily life will be like in 10, 20, or 50 years. Artifacts from the Future give us this tangible experience of the future. They make the details of a future scenario concrete, helping us to understand, almost first-hand, what it will be like to live in a particular future.

Artifacts from the Future provide a rich starting point for strategic discussions, whether for a new products team in a technical organization or a community group looking for ways to engage young people in building a stake in their own neighborhood. Creating Artifacts from the Future is also a great way to get people thinking about the future—their assumptions, their goals, and the path from here to there.

This set of Artifacts from the future focuses on a scenario in which animals team up with artificial intelligence. It turns out they're really good at providing goods and services, and they end up dominating global markets.

At this point, if you're thinking this sounds like an unlikely future, you're probably right.

The Cone of Possibility

A common futures thinking model used to help expand how we think about the future is the Cone of Possibility. If you extrapolate the known trends of today, it is pretty easy to forecast a future that is probably going to happen. However, we know from looking at historical events that improbable things sometimes do happen. Looking back to the future, if we take into account the possibility of improbable events happening, the number of possible future scenarios will expand significantly.

Here we find futures which are plausible. Beyond the plausible, we can see an ever-expanding number of futures which are theoretically possible, at least according to the laws of physics. I suspect that Artificial Intelligence teaming up with Animals is probably not going to happen in the near future. However, on a long enough time scale it most certainly is possible, and maybe even plausible.

Smart Bone Fetch Finder

The Smart Bone Fetch Finder™, first created in the year 2027, empowers dogs to take control of who their best friends are. In this future dogs approach people, offering to play fetch as a service.

The first fetch is free. Additional play time can be purchased by humans through an app that pairs with the Smart Bone™. Additional services such as personal security can be purchased through premium fetch packages.

Eurion Jewelry

The unique pattern on this jewelry helps endangered animals enforce copyright claims on their image. This pattern known as the Eurion Constellation is historically used as a watermark to prevent money forgery. It can currently be found on most paper currencies around the world.

In the year 2032 Eurion Jewelry became a fashion trend amongst endangered animals. Thanks to new legislation regarding endangered animals it became unlawful to photograph or distribute an animal's likeness without without their consent. While the application of this law was difficult at first, the introduction of Eurion Jewelry allowed AI lawyers to enforce their client's copyright in real time.

Some of the more charismatic endangered animals can fetch licensing fees that rival the biggest Hollywood stars.

Bacon Extruder

In the year 2028 artificial intelligence and cybernetically augmented pigs have teamed up capitalize on lab grown meat. After centuries of factory farming, the pigs are fed up with exploitation by humans. With the help the latest animal-computer interfaces and AI collaborators, the international consortium of pigs was able to design manufacture a countertop bacon extruder for mass-market.

The machine is charged with proprietary capsules containing a mixture of substrates and nutrients to grow the perfect strip of bacon. Similar in principle to how a Keurig brews coffee. In this world, the pigs' AI lawyers have secured the rights to their client's DNA, making it illegal for third parties to pig-derived products.

In this future, the only way to eat bacon is through this proprietary system that ultimately makes the pigs filthy rich.

Many Thanks!

This project was made possible by countless conversations and brainstorming sessions with with the Pier9 Autodesk community. Many thanks to everyone who contributed ideas for future scenarios, and helped me think through the best way to physically manufacture these Artifacts.

If you're interested in learning more about the research process for generating this future forecast scenario, or if you want to see complete documentation on the manufacturing process, check out my Instructables page.