Robots in the Park

The head of our strategy planning group at Colle+McVoy, Paul Isakson, had some interesting thoughts in a recent MediaPost article, titled I, Part Robot.

The course of Paul’s interview for the article top-lined the journey he is taking to becoming a robot. For every time we are relying on technology to catalog or help us remember something–think phone numbers, recipes, etc.–Paul’s position is that we are essentially transferring some of ourselves into that technology. And vice versa. I fully support this notion. Even though I can still remember addresses and phone numbers from when I was five years old–before said technology–I’m nearly useless without reminders and “little books” today.

I cannot answer the devil’s advocate in me that wonders why the same rule of mind-to-technology transfer does not hold true across all technologies. For instance, when I write in a notebook I am not becoming a tree nor is the tree planting its roots within my being. When I drive my car, I’m not “becoming one” with my machine–although had I been able to afford a BMW perhaps this would have happened after all.

But the rest of me cannot help but agree with the notions, put out in the article, about singularities and humanity’s impending dance with cyborgs. One need look no further than a recent series of architectural illustrations for Minneapolis’ upcoming redesign of Peavey Plaza. For the out-of-towners, the Plaza is a premiere city park located in the heart of our downtown. According to the firm in charge of the redesign, the park will better reflect its originally intended purpose as a “performance and gathering space,” fulfilling “the demands of how a 21st-century space should be articulated.”

City park. Gathering space. Humanity. It all makes sense. We are social creatures after all.


And yet, have a close look at the Plaza rendering above, taken from among those in the library. The sea of humanity in the depiction does not look overly open to real, physical discourse because they are, in fact, looking instead at their phones. Seeking a friend’s number. Trying to find directions for a rendezvous. Or desperately looking for ways to manage their own internal cyborgs.


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