What's for Breakfast in an AI Future?What's for Breakfast in an AI Future?
What's for Breakfast in an AI Future?

General Seminar S05 E01

Contributed By: Julian Bleecker

Published On: Thursday, March 7, 2024 at 11:00:19 PST

Updated On: Thursday, March 7, 2024 at 18:11:00 PST


General Seminar is back!

It’s exciting to start a new rhythm of these awesomely fun and generative events after a little hiatus.

Join me for General Seminar Season 05 Episode 01 on March 20th where we will wander into a possible AI future and wonder about the kinds of worlds we want to inhabit as well as the kinds of AI futures we may find ourselves living within.

(Want to listen to a past General Semianr? Have a listen to this episode of the Near Future Laboratory Podcast: General Seminar 17 Solarpunk)

Many of you would’ve heard my pitch to create a magazine from a possible AI future in the Design Fiction mode. Very much like the magazine we created a year or so back for the autonomous vehicle future called Autonome. That particular magazine was a way for us to provide our client, Motional, with a view into the autonomous vehicle future that other kinds of futuring and foresight practices were not able to: an immersive, experiential artifact that can effectively represent the day-to-day future, in all its expected contingent variety.

And now we’re embarking on a similar endeavor to create a magazine from a possible AI future.


Although there is plenty of hoopla about AI, lots of gold-rush style frantic behavior, lots of excitement and plenty of anxiety — these are exactly the kinds of signals that indicate to me that it’s time to take a look at this future from the Design Fiction vantage point. This is when we ask ourselves simple questions in an effort to ground the future in the normal, ordinary, everyday: What’s for breakfast?

General Seminar will give you a taste of how we use these approaches. This is not a hands-off workshop. You’ll come with us and imagine into the possibilities of AI by looking around for the artifacts and implications. Rather than making predictions or prognosticating, we operate more like a forensic detective, noticing evolutions of life through clues. What are people eating for breakfast, we might imagine. What are they doing for work, assuming such is still described as ‘work’? What are they doing for entertainment and how is ‘entertainment’ manufactured or created?

With Design Fiction we seek the future through material cultural artifacts of all varieties. A classified advertisement. A billboard. A vehicle. A musical instrument. A speaker. A movie poster. A bag of sweets. And then we examine these things like an archeologist might, trying to unpack and unravel the mysteries of the world with sincerity and humility.

In General Seminar we deliberately move away from the speculation and hyperbole and try to use our imagination to construct worlds inhabited by humans with their typical cares, concerns, and basic human needs. Call it the Future Mundane, or the Normal, Ordinary, Everyday Futures, we want to avoid fetishizing the technology — if only for 90 minutes — to really immerse ourselves in the experience of what life and typical human experiences and user scenarios might be like.

​Join me and about 24 others as we hop into the Near Future Laboratory’s hand built time machine and workshop our way into a Possible AI Future.

General Seminar meets on Zoom. Links will be shared 24 hours ahead of the event. We record our workshops to provide you with an after-action report and annotated audio recording.

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