Building off of foresight scenarios designed for the IRCC, an experential foresight workshop was designed to explore how the public would respond to how these scenarios might play out in real life.
In this foresight workshop scenario, the balance between Canada’s social welfare state and the role of corporates in attracting and retaining talent in Canada was intentionally balanced to reflect both a plausible and a provocative future. Multiculturalism, social welfare, equality, and openness as Canadian values are written into the scenario to show that Canadian values of the past thirty years remain in many ways. In particular, Canada’s immigration policies focused on humanitarian immigrants will remain, though reasons for immigrating will be more in response to climate change refugees. The speed and agility of the private sector will require the government to respond to maintain Canada as a professional destination for immigrants.
The IRCC’s professional migration policy is what we selected as most affected by the onset of AI and automation. However, the provocation in the scenario comes from today’s perspective on what would be extreme uses of personal data, radical changes to the education system’s curriculum, and a completely disrupted job market due to the onset of AI.
In order to showcase the pervasive influence of private corporations within the education system through corporate-sponsored schools, we decided to leverage the brand reputation of recognizable entities that exist today. From Samsung, a technology giant, and Alt School, an education startup that focuses on technology-enabled personalized learning, we created the new identifies of Samtech and NeuSchool for our foresight workshop scenario.
To explore how a world where private and public interests were both held equally valuable in society, we chose to do it through the perspective of the children's education system. Taking inspiration from previous foresight scenario exercises, we created detailed personas for 3 children.
Mai and Bruno are siblings – one with an astoundingly high measure of innate creative talent; another whose data indicates a lack of such, and must thus work in excess to “keep up” with the data reigns as truth in this future scenario. Both children are first-generation Canadians with parents who are “corporate citizens” that were able to immigrate with ease due to their status as creative-elites. It was important, however, for us to also incorporate an additional foil character to portray tensions in potential class stratification that may result in this future scenario. The persona of Gabriel was thus created so that a different family dynamic, where a creative, refugee newcomer child of non-creative parents must carry the burden integration, as well as career expectations, for the entire family.
The quarterly student performance scorecards were created as an artifact from the future to represent the embeddedness of big data in monitoring creative talent within the education system, where a quantification of self functions as social currency for corporate citizenship offers.
The scorecards provide a quantitative snapshot of each child as analyzed by AI. The children’s physiology, as well as social performance, are measured and evaluated against creativity assessment frameworks, which do not take into account gender, socio-cultural status, race, or age.
A scorecord and a Selflet for each character were handed out to participants prior to participants entering the Time Machine experience, so that each participant could study the data and become immersed in his or her role. The data on the scorecards were discussed in detail during the parent-teacher interviews.
In 2057, wearables have full market penetration and are commonplace. They are used in every industry and in every facet of life. Advances in material science and sensors provide a never before seen level of sophistication and integration. Materials such as graphene and carbyne allow for light, flexible yet incredibly strong interfaces and biocompatible sensors. The Selflet utilizes nanobot sensors that are ingested and then provide constant real time data through a screen based interface worn on the wrist. Multinational corporations such as Samtech utilize Selflets in their sponsor schools in order to better understand the potential of students and gauge their creative value. Selflets track and combine multiple data points to create scores on social intelligence, technical skill, design thinking, creativity, memory, and social ability. Depending on performance, custom recommendations appear on the Selflet to better allow students to improve their standing.
To highlight how creative curriculum becomes the foundation of schools in the future, we structured classroom learning around four main pillars—Social Intelligence, Technical Skill, Creativity and Design thinking. This design choice was made to reflect the skills professionals will have in the future that AI will have difficulty replacing.
AI is also used to see where in the job market students best fit into. It takes the full range of collected selflet data and assesses whether or not future matched professions are at risk of AI replacement. Additionally, AI is utilized to inform students where their academic skills are desired nationally and internationally, indicated through highlighted zones where migration permissions are more likely to be granted.
To show the different dynamics between the characters in the scenario, we described what would be a parent-teacher interview between parents of students in a corporate sponsored- school. This format of interaction was chosen as we wanted to emphasize the pressures of data monitoring and evaluation from a child’s perspective in our future scenario. In a parent-teacher interview, the child is meant to be a passive observer, forced to listen to his/her progress, as well as weaknesses, without being able to intervene.
In this case, the students are being assessed on their creative capacities, and their relevance to the job market. Students in the scenario are instructed to listen in on the conversation between their parents and their teachers. Company agents are characters meant to represent the corporate and government perspective in the scenario.
Lights in the room are dimmed and participants are asked to login to their online student portal through their smart devices to connect to their interviews. Once logged in, they listen to the conversations had by their teacher, parents and Samtech talent agent in regards to their academic performance. All this steps build together the perfect peak climax point of our scenario.
The discussion was necessary regarding the tensions we addressed in the design of the experience. To make the spontaneous discussion a successful one, we defined a clear focus by two questions. We printed them on comment cards and handed out to the participants. As a starter we asked, What were some of your strongest reactions you had to your child’s scenario? This question helped the audience to recall the experience and analyse from their point of view. It helped us to understand whether they grasped the basic elements of the scenario.
For bringing in cohesiveness in the next phase of deep conversation we then asked the next question with a pedagogical goal, using the lens of AI, How do you think AI would affect citizenship and people’s ability to migrate in the future? This lead to a diversified discussion based on the previous emotions of experience. The discussion turned into exploring the relationships between real world scenarios where the audience translated their experiences into a broader scope.