Two days after the mid-way thesis review, I was given the opportunity to discuss my thesis work thus far to the undergraduate students in the Art Center College of Design’s Business 101 class. I decided to use this as an opportunity to address a lot of the feedback given during the critique in the form of a keynote lecture / classroom discussion. The following is an excerpt from the talk:
I believe we are headed towards an era of sameness – an era in which innovation by the human species alone is impossible because all humanly perceivable problems are solved. While, to some, the elimination of problems may seem to be a great success, I find it to be the most pressing dilemma of mankind. Entrepreneurship, the design of new stuff as a result of our innate empathy towards others, is what makes us human. To strip innovation and ingenuity out of the human equation is to strip the very thing that makes us unique as a species.
Four signals that point towards this predicament, the end of entrepreneurial practice, are identified: Knock-Off Products, Feature Companies, Product-Enhancing Products, and the Templatization of Innovation. In the 20th Century we saw an abundance of innovation – the Personal Computer, the Pocket Calculator, the Xerox Machine. I argue that, made visible by these signals, the current landscape of innovation is driven by enhancing that which has already been innovated, as opposed to creating that which is new.
I see these signals as a visible cry for help, a sign that the practice of entrepreneurship is on it’s last leg. My project offers a speculative alternative to human innovation by inventing the “(Dis)Embodied Entrepreneur,” a machine that aims to heroically take the place of mankind in entrepreneurial practice in order to raise critical dialogue around this predicament.