Sketching in Hardware 2018

The New Machine Age

July 27 through July 29
David Whitney Building
Detroit, Michigan

The possibility created by digital technology today to directly alter the physical world is perhaps only equalled by the postwar material science explosion. The 1950s and 60s gave us metal replacement hips and Tupperware. Today we have (or will soon have) woodworking tools that compensate for their operator's imprecision, CAD tools that anticipate and correct for errors, sensor-enabled logistics chains, and robots that etch musical grooves into frozen lakes (cf Kazuhiro Jo's Sketching presentation last year). The wisdom of lifetimes can be algorithmically distilled, extended, shared and embedded invisibly in everyday physical objects. Expertise is now a design material. What are the tools we need to build for and in this world? What are the creative and technical possibilities?

What are the warnings we should be heeding? How should we heed them?


Synthetic tools for designing the New Machine Age

Monday July 30
The Henry Ford
Dearborn, Michigan

This charrette is intended to let Sketching participants respond to the ideas brought up during the summit through discussion and hands-on making. It's set in the Henry Ford Museum to provide context and let the successes and failures (technological, social or both) of past innovation guide the design of future technology design tools. As the boundaries fade between hardware, software, robotics and architectural environments, and as artificial intelligence, coupled with models of human behavior, erase the boundaries between the capabilities of people and those of their digital tools, I think the design of tools for creating new physical and digital products becomes a critical activity when trying to change present conditions in the world to more desirable ones. Basically: tools create the envelopes of possible designs created with them, and I think the shape of those envelopes should not be left to chance, but consciously designed.