Co-imagining Care Futures (Prototeam 1)

Writing Futures of Care with Generative AI

The rising acceptance and use of generative AI tools has the potential to transform design practice and design research. While these tools offer new creative possibilities and modalities for designers to extend their practice, they can further add uncertainty and have wide-ranging social, cultural, and ethical consequences. Our project explores this tension within the context of designing for older adult care and aging at home.  

Using ChatGPT and other image-generation AI tools, we developed eight ‘future of care’ stories showcasing various interactions of older adults with care technologies, exploring complex issues of isolation, empathy, autonomy, and informal care. As part of the final outcome, we offer some reflections on the benefits and risks of using GenAI for speculative storytelling, as well as reflections on the care scenarios. Through this work, we aim to showcase the urgent need for considerations of bias, ethics, and cultural implications of the technologies we create. We also show how these technologies spread Western cultural narratives and often ignore experiences falling outside of it. By doing so, we call for design practice to adopt pluralistic approaches to not only design futures for a privileged few, but for all. 

The project approaches AI in two ways: firstly, AI is employed in the design process itself, through ChatGPT, MidJourney, and other image-generation AI tools. Secondly, the scenarios created illustrate future interactions between older adults and AI-enabled care technologies. Given the rapid growth and application of AI in several domains, the project attempts to disentangle complexities of care, automation, techno-solutionism, and power. By creating the scenarios in collaboration with AI tools, the project illustrates the need for ethical considerations within the design process. By crafting scenarios that depict future societies and people aging with AI, we try to identify the areas of intervention for care, in ways that uphold human dignity and autonomy. 

The project highlights the need for design practice to better identify and address issues of bias, techno-determinism, and economic hegemony. By reflecting on the many limitations and long-term impacts of the AI tools employed in the design process, we prompt designers to critically and carefully consider the social, cultural, and ethical implications of AI-generated design solutions. 

In this prototeam, we partnered with ACRC


Conference, RTD; Coulton, Paul; Lindley, Joseph; Sturdee, Miriam; Stead, Mike (2019). Design Fiction as World Building. figshare. Journal contribution. 

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