Never Stop Playing Around

The third PlayLab participants imagined the future as a huge playground for all of us. When we play, we constantly learn new things.

The purple lounge area at the USM WorkHouse is filled with laughter. But the outbursts of joy are not unique to the third group participating in the USM PlayLabs. Throughout the first three weeks of June 2018, there was either concentrated silence or laughter at the WorkHouse. Which proves that thinking about how we are going to live and work in the future can indeed be funny at times.

While the first PlayLab anticipated a skill trade and the redesigning of work-value, the second group imagined a green paradise for humans and machines alike, the third group worked on the idea that there should be very little distinction between work and its counterpart, free or down-time. Maia Garau from tellart, who created the PlayLabs, said that the idea behind it was the following: ”If in the future we are relying on technology and machines, we need them to mine new and meaningful things for us humans to do.” Therefore, they’ve imagined a future in which AI and humans will work together, each of them giving the other one new opportunities to work with.

The ambition for this whole exercise of creating a WorkHouse and inviting participants to imagine the future of work was to create images that could live on in our minds, showing us the way towards a possible future. With these anticipated scenarios in mind, we will not just design things differently, but if we share these ideas with others, we all may be able to start a collective journey. A journey that is making better and wiser long-term decisions now, so as to help to shape our own future of work.

According to the findings of the third PlayLab, this future needs to cease to be human-centred. Today we design and create things for humans, in the future we might steer our work and design towards being much more planet-centred. Given that technological and environmental changes will be the most disruptive factors in the future, the term “all live forms” will also include Artificial Intelligence and other developments.

Tim Ahrensbach, one of the participants in the lab and part of the design collective 00 in London, stressed the fact that it will nevertheless remain important to understand what makes humans uniquely human. “Our ability to collaborate, empathise, be innovative and passionate, these are the things that are going to be valuable in the future.”

And that was the beauty of the PlayLabs: there were no limits to our imagination. Which I the way it needs to be if we are painting a future that holds equal rights for all living species, humans, machines and animals alike. If we want our future to be the way we’ve imagined it, the idea itself might lead us on a path where we could start working on this ideal future, right here and now.