A Humble Attempt to Reorient Makers to the Inevitable
Keywords:posthuman, digital design, craft, digital fabrication, cybernetics
Nearing the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century many craftspeople and makers are waking up to the inevitable reality that our next human evolution may not be the same, that this time it could be different. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum refers to what we are beginning to experience as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Schwab 2017, 01). Schwab and his colleagues believe that this revolution could be much more powerful and will occur in a shorter period than the preceding industrial and digital revolutions. This revolution will cause a profound change in how we practice, labour and orient ourselves in the world. Rapidly evolving technologies will proliferate the use of robotics and personalised robots (co-bots) that can sense our presence and safely work alongside us. Digital algorithms are already becoming more reliable predictors of complex questions in medicine and economics than their human counterparts. Therefore, the gap between what a computer can learn and solve and what a robot can do will quickly close in the craft traditions. This article will engage in the discourse of posthumanism and cybernetics and how these debates relate to craft and making. Intentionally this work is not a proud manifesto of positions, strategies, and guidelines required for greatness. Alternatively, it is a humble attempt to reorient makers to the necessary discourse required to navigate the inevitable changes they will face in their disciplines. Thus, the article seeks to transfer posthumanist literary understanding to intellectually position craft in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.