Paul Judge: Good technological design can make us all happier

From a speech by the chairman of the Royal Society of Arts at its 250th anniversary conference

Share
Related Topics

Human history is shaped by ideas. Seventy years ago at Cambridge, Professor Ernest Rutherford first split the atom, clearly one of the most fundamental experiments of the 20th century. He was visited by some American scientists who were amazed at the cramped facilities in which he worked, and the poor quality of the equipment. Rutherford explained that good science did not need plush laboratories. He said, "It is true we don't have much money, so we have to think."

Human history is shaped by ideas. Seventy years ago at Cambridge, Professor Ernest Rutherford first split the atom, clearly one of the most fundamental experiments of the 20th century. He was visited by some American scientists who were amazed at the cramped facilities in which he worked, and the poor quality of the equipment. Rutherford explained that good science did not need plush laboratories. He said, "It is true we don't have much money, so we have to think."

We should therefore consider today's challenges. We are facing a future of unprecedented competition in business and intense pressure to deliver quality public services that meet people's needs. Imagine a world where elderly people are cared for by robots. Replacing human contact with a machine would seem to be an awful idea. But some people have no contact with caregivers at all. If the choice is going to a nursing home or staying at home with a robot, maybe people will choose the robot.

Automation is almost the defining word of the industrial revolution and a dominant theme of IT application. Yet we are still only at the early stages of giving machines the variety of flexibility of action we see in the natural world, such as balancing on two legs or climbing a tree.

New technologies are creating a world where, in developed nations, anything is possible. We have more choice about where we work, where we live and how we live. Design and technology go hand in hand. Design must play a central role in ensuring that people will not be isolated or reduced by the technology revolution. We are moving so fast with technology, but we do not always appreciate or understand the issues it raises.

A famous seminar about design was held at No 10 Downing Street in 1984 and called "design for profit". Now we might talk about "design for people".

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has won the award ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

SThree: Trainee Recuitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: will this be the election result? And other Questions To Which The Answer Is No

John Rentoul
David Cameron visiting a primary school last year  

The only choice in schools is between the one you want and the ones you don’t

Jane Merrick
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn