Avery's Journey is a self-directed design fiction excercise and dance with Midjourney and other large language models.
Another day, another piece of street furniture to help make sure robots don’t kill people. This time Avery was tasked with submitting initial massing schematics for a new walk sign indicator for a historic district; you know, the one with the regular hand/walking person, and a new suite of sensors to help all the proposed autonomous vehicles not roam into the street. This struck Avery as silly on so many levels: why are we going through the trouble of massing studies for the historic district committee, when what we are proposing isn’t historical at all!? As if there were historical robots. Well, there *were* historical robots, but certainly not on this street. Even if there were historical robots, the suite of sensors the RFP requires was a bit silly: LiDAR, GPS/GLONASS beacon, Bluetooth beacon, WiFi, 6g, sonic rangefinder, ultrasonic beacon, etc, etc – the list went on. It was a complete belt and suspenders operation, and the resulting form showed that. Avery thought that all of these sensors could be combined into one sleek monolith, but no matter the configuration the resulting form was just a bunch of barnacles. Avery hoped this would be denied, allowing additional design time.m to get this one right.
Avery hated this assignment: parking meters. Why anyone would want to spend time on this archaic technology when we have free apps and plate readers is beyond comprehension. Section Chief Jordan specifically stated that this was an accessibility assignment, and to please don’t think that everyone has the latest NuLink. But Avery knew when a project was phoned in - why spend so many cycles on this when it will just be placed in an archive somewhere, once the new District rules are instituted? So, instead of wasting time Avery thought the best way forward was to build in something useful to these monstrosities: eBike chargers. That way these frustrating pieces of street furniture can pull double-duty, and maybe we could make them a little less terrible.. Now, if the design board would only approve this – Avery was tired of accepting these boring assignments in order to work on something truly revolutionary.
Avery’s next assignment was for a new traffic light. Now that the EV induction chargers were installed in the new District and the water/halon hydrants were in production, the bureau needed to think through how to safely manage traffic flow. The design documents did not confirm if the new District’s streets were going to be mixed traffic, or if it was going to be autonomous vehicle-only. As usual, the design department was forced to move faster than the policymakers. Avery was sure this was going to end back on the Jobs to Be Done board in a month. Avery decided on submitting two designs which satisfies the design requirements list as-is but allows for policymakers some room to choose. Avery knew that these prompts forced policymakers to choose, and wasn’t sure the District was ready for such a change in traffic light design. But for now the designs were submitted to the planning department for prototyping and testing.
Avery looked over the Jobs to Be Done board for the new district and saw a new requirement was added late last night: redesign the fire hydrant for both water and Halon. It took a few moments, but then they realized what was happening: the new district had a mixture of induction and plug-in chargers, and the prototype in the neighboring District did not go well. The local fire brigade had trouble putting out fires caused by the new system, and this new District needed to provide additional, and different firefighting capabilities for all the possible new EV’s.
Avery was new at the Highland Bureau, having secured the spot from gramps, and wasn’t sure this was a life calling, but tried to do the best job possible. The first assignment to redesign the street side collection boxes for the new district to provide letter service, but also sending digital assets. NFT’s were so last decade, but the commissioner was stuck in the past, and didn’t realize that people were operation off-chain. Avery hoped these initial ideas would be approved, but knew that every design became too bulky and big for the new District, and hoped the requirements document would be updated.
Avery was about to finish the Bureau exam, when this image popped up. Avery instantly remembered this from years of study. It was from the auteur Zeno Bianchi, deep in their Neo-Rococo phase, who was known for their unique and nostalgic take on subway entrances. Built in the ’30’s, these entrances were immensely polarizing – Zeno wanted to create structures that would be both modern and practical, with a nod to the bold, futuristic designs of the past. While their vision did not align with the tastes of the general public, they went on to create a number of other futuristic structures that were both functional and visually stunning.
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