A future where calling a human stand-in is as easy as calling an Uber

It’s already possible, but what if it evolves into more than just hiring someone to stand in line, and Other-Self Agency replaces interactions with loved ones?

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Some designers make the promise that robotics, AI and automation are here to help, not to replace. Other experts suggest that it’s not long before those very advancements bring about the end of human interaction altogether.

It’s undoubtedly hard to pick a side. This video presents the work of Lisa Hofer, a design graduate who used her time on the antenna stage to speculate on the future of automation in a completely outsourced future.

Curated by Design Indaba and co-produced by Dutch Design Week, the antenna Conference brings together 20 design graduates whose projects unpack today’s biggest problems by looking at how they could be solved in the future.

From the future of food to the refugee crisis, antenna graduates are at once curious, unencumbered and experimental. Hofer’s curiosity piqued while doing research one night with a friend.

Wanting to stay put rather than attend a friend’s birthday party that same evening, Hofer wondered what it could be like to outsource the party to someone else, someone to attend in her place.

Today, we already hire someone to deliver our food, pray with us or even pretend to be a loved one such as a wife or boyfriend. What will the world of automated, outsourced work look like if this trend keeps evolving alongside robotics and AI?

Hofer speculates on the answer to this question in Other Self Agency, a fictitious project that offers clients “human service staff agents” to attend funerals, parties and anything else the client does not wish to do. “But when will you prefer a human or robot to replace you?” she asks.

“There are some very sophisticated technologies around these ideas but in fact the demand for the amount of support from humans for humans will increase with the future of automation.”

Watch the video to find out why.

More talks on the future of mobility, service delivery and the refugee crisis:

Scribble is a touch-activated joystick for semi-autonomous driving

Ukubutha: A township hub powered by smart architecture and green tech

Turning refugee bunkers into privacy pods using minimalist design