Yesterday IIT Institute of Design hosted a workshop for Chicago Humanities Festival led by PhD student Maryam Heidaripour. Participants were a national cohort of thirty PhD scholars in humanities, with a broad range of disciplinary affiliations, such as history, philosophy, anthropology, comparative literature, communication, and American studies.

In this workshop, Speculative Fiction: On the Future of Smart Grids, participants applied their critical skills to address emerging socio-cultural, economic, and political implications of smart grid technology. Smart grid is an electricity supply network that uses digital technology to create two-way communication between the utility and its customers, with the promise of reliability, availability, and efficiency in energy industry. The challenge, though, is to move beyond the unfamiliar smart grid, to unveil human dimensions of technological change. By leveraging on futuristic storytelling, participants created newspapers from the future that enabled a different and deeper engagement in thought and discussion about the broader impact of smart grids on our society.