3. Resisting Reduction

Welcome to the third issue of the Journal of Design and Science, a joint publication of the MIT Media Lab and the MIT Press. JoDS’ mission is to forge new connections between science and design, breaking down the barriers between traditional academic disciplines in the process. Our new issue looks at designing a complex and unknowable future with machines, questioning theories such as Singularity and modern economic and market-based decision making. What if the promise of AI is not a question of humans versus machines but one of intelligence augmentation in collaboration with machines? Can you envision a new approach to increase human flourishing informed by second-order cybernetics, systems dynamics, and complex systems that resists the dangerous reductionist paradigms we currently use? The essays shared here, in conversation with Joi Ito’s manifesto “Resisting Reduction,” explore machine intelligence in light of diverse ecosystems in nature and its relationship to humanity.

Enjoy, and please join the JoDS conversation!


—Amy Brand and Joi Ito



by Joichi Ito
Nov 01, 2017
Designing our Complex Future with Machines.
by Nicky Case
Jan 08, 2018
The old story of AI is about human brains working against silicon brains. The new story of IA will be about human brains working with silicon brains. As it turns out, most of the world is the opposite of a chess game: Non-zero-sum — both players can win.
by Pip Mothersill
Feb 04, 2018
We are designing increasingly complex ecologies, involving unpredictable human interactions, emotional experiences and intangible services, as well as the physical objects that we pick off the shelf.  We don’t just design forms, we now design platforms.
by John Palfrey
Dec 27, 2017
An existential worry lies beneath concerns about the future of AI. We as humans fear that we will lose our autonomy as we pursue automation with such abandon. It feels urgent that we examine what we care most about in humanity as we race to develop the science and technology.
by Stewart Brand
Dec 20, 2017
Pace layers provide many-leveled corrective, stabilizing feedback throughout the system. It is in the contradictions between these layers that civilization finds its surest health. I propose six significant levels of pace and size in a robust and adaptable civilization.
by Jennifer Pahlka
Dec 20, 2017
What’s the lesson too many people take from that first and most influential episode in Star Wars back in 1977? One incredibly well-placed shot into the thermal exhaust port and the entire apparatus of our oppression explodes spectacularly.
by Anjali Sastry
Jan 22, 2018
Today, greenhouse gas emissions are rising again while questions about how to spur economic growth continue. I wonder, are we missing the connection? Might a move away from reduction help us to understand our shared options?
by Nicholas Negroponte
Feb 02, 2018
Parse the title either way—I believe that 30 years from now people will look back at the beginning of our century and wonder what we were doing and thinking about big, hard, long-term problems, particularly those of basic research.