Anticipating IR 4.0: Conceptualising a human-centred contribution to the design of emerging complex technological systems



Design Education Strategy


  • anticipatory design, discursive design, design education, IR 4.0, human-centred design


Emerging IR 4.0 systems have the capacity both negatively and positively to disrupt. While currently much of the design in this regard has for practical reasons focused on technical systems, there is an urgent need to ensure that these systems due to their physical fabrication, pervasive deployment, and autonomous capabilities, are integrated into our human world in a manner that enhances the human condition and ensure planetary sustainment. Supporting this urgent need, this paper suggests that human-centred design (HCD) can make a substantial contribution, albeit with a recasting of its traditional design role. Consequently, HCD is positioned as an anticipatory mode of research focused on developing both plausible future scenarios, as well as recognising potential enabling activities and contexts for reaching or avoiding these scenarios. Exemplifying, this type of anticipatory inquiry, a scenario detailing a possible human-centred approach to IR 4.0 systems design is provided. The scenario is complimented by an introductory range of suggestions articulating the tactical steps that a design learning programme could implement to ensure the next generations of designers are prepared adequately to engage with the realities of the emerging technological developments.

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