This is an approximate transcript of a talk I gave at Sonar+D in the session “So, What About the Future?” on September 19, 2020. I discussed teaspoons, cultural voyeurs, urban canyons, creative contrarians, and our practice of Design Fiction at Near Future Laboratory. You can watch the video if you’d rather.

This session is about discussing current incredible times and how they are changing our perception of the future.

Most of us have experienced shifts in our daily lives. …


The business of dishonest automation and how the engineers, data scientists and designers behind it can fix it

The pilots fought continuously until the end of the flight“, said Capt. Nurcahyo Utomo, the head of the investigation of Lion Air Flight 610 that crashed on October 29, 2018, killing the 189 people aboard. The analysis of the black boxes had revealed that the Boeing 737’s nose was repeatedly forced down, apparently by an automatic system receiving incorrect sensor readings. During 10 minutes preceding the tragedy, the pilots tried 24 times to manually pull up the nose of the plane. …


An introduction and call for early adopters.

Ever since the slow death of Dopplr after its acquisition by Nokia a decade ago, the internet has lacked a dedicated space for people to casually share their travel intentions. Back in those days, it was also a feature of trip planning services like TripIt which since then pivoted to booking management for frequent flyers and real-time notifications when things go out of the route. With the ubiquity of smartphones, it made a lot of sense for social network platforms to propose services that focus on the instantaneous, the moments and the now. …


Principles to nurture a healthy and innovative Data Science function

As organizations turn to digital transformation strategies, they are also increasingly forming teams around the practice of Data Science. Currently, the main challenge for many CIOs, CDOs, and other Chief Data Scientists consist in positioning the Data Science function precisely where an organization needs it to improve its present and future activities. This implies embedding Data Science teams to fully engage with the business and adapting the operational backbone of the company (e.g. techniques, processes, infrastructures, culture, legal).

There is no formal description of Data Science. Its mission to “understand and analyze actual phenomena with data” can vary greatly from…


Clarify the present with Design Fiction: A tool to discuss the priorities for today which can make a preferable future attainable

For the last few years at Near Future Laboratory and BBVA Data & Analytics, my teams and I have been focused on clarifying the present and anticipating desirable, feasible, and profitable futures for organizations. Establishing a vision, then investigating that vision through Design Fiction, we proactively explore what we might do next, discuss implications of potential opportunities and seek to understand what we need to achieve today to create the preferable future we envision.

1. The future is a moving target

The time horizons of innovation have shortened. New technologies and business models are emerging and expiring faster than ever before. The pace by which ideas circulate…


Imagine another version of the Internet respectful of people’s attention and time.

In 1998, Swatch proposed a global time called the Internet Time that divided a day into 1000 “.beats”. It was meant for people to coordinate time for calls, chats or multiplayer online games. Right after the announcement, the company rolled out a model of watch, branded ‘Swatch .beat’, that displayed Swatch Internet Time as well as standard time. It was a watchmaker’s response to the way the Internet started to reconfigure people’s relation to time.

Back then, I was an engineering student living in proximity to Swatch’s headquarters in Biel, Switzerland. I became fascinated by this concept when the now…


Notes for designers and data scientists who create together systems that learn from human behaviors

1. Introduction

Traditionally the experience of a digital service follows pre-defined user journeys with clear states and actions. Until recently, it has been the designer’s job to create these linear workflows and transform them into understandable and unobtrusive experiences. This is the story of how that practice is changing.

Over the last 6 months, I have been working in a rather unique position at BBVA Data & Analytics (D&A), a center of excellence in financial data analysis. My job is to make the design of user experiences reach a new frontier with the emergence of machine learning techniques. My responsibility — among…


Or how the observations of mundane technological glitches and frictions offer a complementary form of inspiration to the multitude of glamorous utopian design visions

At the Near Future Laboratory we are fascinated by the co-evolution of humans and technology, how technology is changing and how it is changing people. Practically, this means we constantly observe this interplay, and we love to question, design and create the future of this relationship. We are persistent stalkers of the partially broken, the tinkered, the seamful, the annoying, the absurd and any other awkward ways technologies surfaces in our modern lives. These observations offer us a complementary form of inspiration to the multitude of glamorous utopian design visions.

In a recent project in the form of the fanzine…


This is an approximate transcript of a Pecha-Kucha style talk I gave at a DataBeers Madrid event in the Google Madrid Campus on June 27, 2016. A Pecha-Kucha presentation recommends 20 slides for 20 seconds each, forcing a concise, fast paced, and entertaining 7 minutes talk.

My talk was about data products. That is products characterized by an experience that evolves according to user behaviors and constantly updating algorithms fed by streams of data (e.g. Fitbit, Spotify, Fintonic, or Helios, your hypothetical first self-driving car). I argued these living products — that inevitably also have a tendency to die —…


Most connected humans suffer from poor ‘data hygiene’. For instance, we are plainly grotesquely overfed on social media with its ‘anytime’ ‘anywhere’ experience and there is no rational end in sight. In this article, I introduce the reasons why I developed Humans, an app that offers a way to rationally manage too many social media contacts and slows down the consumption of status updates, tweets, selfies, and photos of all kinds.

We live in a society that captures the moment, refashions it to ‘share’ across a network of social media endpoints containing algorithms and human, perpetually. Social media, its algorithms…

Fabien Girardin

Prototyping futures to clarify the present with data science and design. Co-founder nearfuturelaboratory.com Creator of proximo.world

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store