Banal and creepy design jobs of the future

A recent (4th Jan) post at Fast.Co about The Most Important Design Jobs of the Future has stayed in my tabs for a while now. The article asked a bunch of prominent tech industry designers what the design jobs of the future would be. The responses of the two people from Alphabet’s subsidiaries Google and Android are right on that line between interesting and creepy.

Avatar programmer
Nominated by Glen Murphy, director of UX, Android and Chrome
Our celebrity clients will need help in representing themselves best in virtual scenarios such as VR, mobile games, and movies. This job will entail creating a celebrity’s best representation in low-poly, high-polygon variants, and will depend upon rigging a client up for motion capture and text-to-speech emotive output. […] As these representations become more mainstream and more powerful, actors will want increasing control of their image, just as they have in every other form of media.

This is creepy because of the explicit focus on celebrities. And also because it mirrors (or quotes?) the job description of Juanita Marquez from Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash 1992 (before she left to start a mission). And it’s banal because it’s about serving the 1%.

Cybernetic Director
Nominated by Matías Duarte, VP, Material Design at Google
Cybernetic directors will be responsible for the creative vision and autonomous execution of highly personalized media services. They will train cybernetic art directors and visual-design bots in the distinct visual language of a brand. […] Imagine reading a magazine article where the photo editor wasn’t just aware of you as part of a broad demographic, but knew your visual fluency and consumption more intimately than your spouse. Yet who teaches the computers to make those creative choices?

This is just banal. (Even more) Personalised news? The now defunct Zite personalised magazine app did a pretty good job at that. But not good enough to be a viable business.

Both of these design jobs of the future seem like they’re envisioned to take place in an era of fully automated luxury communism. Or on Elysium, which may be the same thing.

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