I’ve been commissioned by the head of a research department at INRA to propose design artefacts that help scientists take new perspectives on their work. The aim is to discuss social, cultural, economical, juridical, ethical implications of these researches.
After collecting an enormous amount of data I went through a processing phase where some colleagues and I tried to define more tightly the topic (we could call this reframing the brief, or building a ‘design-space’). Then we began developing ideas. Here are pictures of the key steps of this process.
There are three main problems in this project: a double complexity (span and depth) and the inter-dependency of all these elements as a complex system.
• The topic cover a large span from biology (plants, animals, humans) to computer science (software, hardware), linked by statistics & prediction;
• For each sub-topic the depth of actors involved is comparable to russian puppets, including many levels of sub-problematics (e.g. from society to family, to a human, to organs, to tissues, to cells, to molecules, to atoms. We could do the same in the bio-informatics sub-topic);
• In each of these layers every actors are inter-related, each layers is also inter-related, these topics are therefore like a giant ecosystems composed of sub-ecosystems.
The mission here is to identify relevant problematics in the domain. Different ways of orgainsing this complexity were therefore used to grasp a sense of understanding of the issues involved. For instance, Latour‘s actor network theory was a source of inspiration when tying to list the series of actors surrounding a tumor. I therefore tried to draw “the path” that takes a tumor (among actors) when a patient gets sick / gets a treatment. We could do the same with actors working around a piece of hardware on a computer dedicated at deep-learning. We could also find more theoretical inspiration in complex system studies.
I therefore summarise the topic with the following text in order to introduce a team workshop.
One of the design steps we took was to list existing practices potentially associated to big data & biology (thanks to the cards shown previously). Here is a non exhaustive list of them. (Thanks Emeline, Ferdinand, the Sociable Media team for your help)
More pictures on the ideas development here, soon. While waiting here is just some raw pictures.