Alan Outten

Project: No Robots Please!

Image: Random Squiggle by Sophia Ivanetic

How can we foster future innovation and design? Armed with this and other questions I enter the primary school classroom dressed to impress (and inspire) in my white laboratory coat. The children are immediately engaged by the visiting “mad scientist” and together we set-off on our journey to explore the future!

I introduce the class to my magical milk-making machine (based on an in vitro mammary gland). The children’s responses range from sheer marvel to an unadulterated yuck! After debating the ethics of nanotechnology and genetic engineering I present a slide-show of present and future technologies. They feedback their approval through a traffic-light system of cards – green, yellow and red: For example, Priscilla, the genetically modified pig who wants to be eaten receives a mixed response – with some articulate arguments against the concept.

Nearing the end of our mission, I finally set the challenge: Design the future! The children are uninhibited in their pursuit of creative future designs – passionately conjuring up new visions such as nano-pets and the edible apple phone.

I leave with a sense that creativity and design are safe in the hands of the next generation!

This project aims to stimulate thought around the social and ethical issues associated with emerging technologies . Primary school children were challenged to imagine visions of future artefacts, with a slight steer towards them considering plants and animals, hence the title: “No Robots Please!”.

You can contact me at my first name dot my last name @ gmail dot com