[thesis project brief]

Project Conspiracy ~

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.

Three signals that point towards this predicament, the end of entrepreneurial practice, are identified: Knock-Off Products, Feature Companies, and Product-Enhancing Products. 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.

Project Brief ~

These signals are a visible cry for help, a sign that the practice of entrepreneurship is on it’s last leg. My thesis offers a speculative alternative to human innovation by inventing the “Dehumanized Entrepreneur” (DE), a machine that aims to heroically aid mankind in entrepreneurial practice in order to raise dialogue around this predicament. The project is split into three parts: Creation (Dehumanized Entrepreneurship), Dissemination (Business PLANting), and Discovery (Deployment Strategies).

Part 01: Creation (Dehumanized Entrepreneurship) ~

DE is brought to “life” through the development of a Business Model Generator (BMG). The BMG is trained to create computer-generated executive summaries, the basis of any and all business. Why is this possible now? The three signals that point towards the end of innovation (highlighted in the above project conspiracy) show that entrepreneurship is beginning the journey towards it’s demise. The ability for humans to perceive problems is not currently distinct, but it is on the cusp of distinction, making right now the perfect moment to write this software – before it, too, becomes unperceivable.

The algorithm works by first creating a templated structure for the summary. This template is created by comparing a series of publicly available business plans, in order to create an “average” executive summary. While the algorithm itself is not true artificial intelligence, it creates the illusion of a complex AI system through the development of content creation strategies for the database the algorithm is pulling from. By designing and leveraging systematic strategies, the generated content becomes more removed from subjective human authorship. Also, the development of these systems for data collection aims to add to the project’s story as a whole by authoring the approaches in a matter that speaks to the components of my thesis (more on that in future posts to come).

As for the DE’s outputs – they are neglected upon export, and are to be immediately inserted into X amount of time capsules. The capsules will remain unopened in an attempt to preserve the content of the executive summary until the era of sameness, the time in which we run out of perceivable problems.

Part 02: Dissemination (Business PLANting) ~

X amount of these business plans will be planted in Silicon Valley, a space that serves as a metaphor around the world for innovation and entrepreneurship. I propose to create an additional system / routine (as implemented with the process of discovering words in Part 01) to objectively inform the placement and burial of each of these plans – a kind of extension to the algorithm itself.

The burial, and planning leading up to, will be treated as a hyper-documented performance of sorts. Each burial site will be marked with a plaque that will be designed specifically to welcome those who discover it in the future scenario (during the era of sameness).

Part 03: Discovery (Deployment Strategies) ~

The project will cultivate in a diegetic business meeting to be held the night of the final exhibition, April 18th. The meeting will be comprised of 3-5 entrepreneurs, and will be set in the time of the era of sameness. Live, for the duration of the show, the entrepreneurs will discuss the plan that was discovered under the surface of the earth, and will spend the evening conceptualizing the strategic means of developing and deploying the concept in order to bring it to market.

Rules: The company purpose will be unknown to the “actors” until the night of the event. The performance will not be rehearsed.

What is left behind: Artifacts of the brainstorm, as well as a visualization(s) of the lifespan of the plan itself (conception to birth to burial to discovery), will remain in the gallery after the night of the public performance.

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