Registration | EPC: The Beauty of Uncertainty in the Age of AI

Emerging Practices: Design Research and Education Conference 2019

Theme: The Beauty of Uncertainty in the Age of AI

Time: Oct 14th, 2019, 9:00-17:30

Location: Dock(No.468 Yangshupu Rd.)

Language: English (simultaneous interpretation)

Theme of the Emerging Practices Conference 2019

Humanity has arrived at a turning point: what we know of robots, virtual reality, synthetic biology, and other exponential technologies no longer comes from science fiction or scientific prediction. Quantum computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in particular are coming of age. As their usefulness grows, so does their promise to improve the ways we live, work, and play. Yet eventhough AI lifts the burden of time-consuming routine tasks, and so enables smarter, more convenient living and more powerful ways of working, it also pushes the limits of our understanding of what intelligence-human and artificial-really means.

Even with the hurrah that announced the age of AI still echoing around the world, it is still hard to ignore the threats to humanity it poses-deskilling, human replacement, and overweening ethical transgression, to name a few. The future emerging out of unpredictable interactions among humans, nature, the tangible artificial world, and the cyber world is infused with uncertainty.

If we look to history, we find a number of distinct pathways forward available tous. The First and Second Industrial Revolution, which began respectively in the middle of the eighteenth century and the second half of the nineteenth century, were challenging human societies with considerable uncertainty due to the drastic shift in the means, modes, and outputs of production enabled by newt echnologies. The British Arts and Crafts Movement, which began in the second half of the nineteenth century, was one of the most famous endeavors of resistance to an overwhelming wave of mass production. Walter Gropius' Bauhaus, founded in 1919, advocated a different approach. It combined human creativity with the shifting means of production at that time and redefined the quality of mass production using design. Here, we might understand "design" as an integrating art of technological culture, which is able to afford technology a new sense of meaning and purpose through offering a set of novel organizing principles for every aspect of human activity. 

Thanks to exponential technologies like AI and the big data revolution, the te chnological landscape before us is no less compelling than it was a hundred years ago. Considerable uncertainty and opportunity open up where we are confronting with the prospect of either sliding back to technological enslavement again, or mastering the new technology and turning it to serve the well-being of humanity. Between these two poles lies a wide spectrum of potential for human-machine symbiosis, and ensuing tension arising from the interactions among the human, artificial, natural, and cyber.
Such is the foreseeable technological culture of our times. Is it hubris to claim that we can harness and humanize AI? Will design be able to act as the integrating art of our technological culture? Can it infuse technology with a new purpose, and shape its development to support human thriving? What kind of individual and collective human experience should design aim to foster? And under the guidance of which principles? Can we move beyond individual disciplinary silosand work together to unleash and direct the incredible potential of AI to secure a decent future for all of us and for our planet?
This spectrum of complex potential is where the beauty of uncertainty comes into play.
We are pleased to announce that the EPC will hold its eighth annual at the start of the first Pan-Tongji Design Week, on October 14th, 2019. This year, we invite leading thinkers, researchers, practitioners, and educators to explorethe topic of "The Beauty of Uncertainty in the Age of AI."  We look forward to your contribution to this discourse examining the critical challenges and exploring the opportunities presented by the technologies of today and tomorrow.

| About the Conference (EPC)
The Emerging Practices Conference (EPC) is Tongji Design Week's principal gathering. It is an international forum focusing on cutting-edge thinking and practice arising at the forefront of design research and education. Inaugurated in October 2012, this conference furthers the growth of the knowledge community that Tongji University College of Design and Innovation initiated. Our common challenges arise out of a need to reform design education, bridge design research and practice, learn to design for social well-being, and target sustainability on a planet with limited resources.

The set of the themes of past EPCs illustrates an evolving quest to reform design research and education by situating design within a shifting social, economic, and technological context. It began with an open exploration of professions, values, and approaches in design (2012), and then focused on a series of themes emerging from the EPC discourse, including open design (2013) and developing research, economies, and communities (2014). In October 2014, the EPC witnessed the birth of the DesignX Manifesto, which calls for an evidence-based design approach to complex sociotechnical systems challenges. From 2015 to 2018, the EPC sought to further the DesignX discourse by taking a closer look at the foundational notion of DesignX (2015), considering designing within complexity(2016), and investigating the social world (2016) and technological world(2018) of complex systems.




Dava J. Newman
Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics, 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


Nick Foster

Head of Design at X ( former Google X)


Paul M. Marshall

Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of East London



John Thackara

Senior Fellow, Royal College of Art (London)


Guillermo Trotti
President of Trotti & Associates, Inc. (TAI)


Harry West
Principal at Invisible Design


Gordon Hush

Head of The Innovation School at Glasgow School of Art



Simon Widmer

Circular Design Lead, Ellen MacArthur Foundation


Yoram Reich
School of Mechanical Engineering, 
TelAviv University


Aldo Cibic
College of Design and Innovation (D&I),
 Tongji University


 Simone Rebaudengo 




Ying Long

Research Fellow, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University


 Wang Haofen
Research Fellow, 

College of Design and Innovation (D&I), 

Tongji University



| Registration
Please complete the online registration before Oct. 12.

Please scan the QR code 
or click “Read more" at the bottom to register

| Registration fee
EPC2019: The Beauty of Uncertainty in the Age of AI, RMB 1000
Non-Tongji Graduate Students (With ID), RMB 500

Time:9:00 - 17:30, Oct.14, 2019

The China-Africa Design Summit: Tapping into the Nature Wisdom, RMB 500

Time: All day, Oct.15, 2019

Circular Economy Day,  RMB 100

Time: All day, Oct.16, 2019

Mobility As Experience: Shanghai 2035, RMB 200

Time: All day, Oct.17, 2019

“Connective” Space and Environmental Design Forum, RMB 500

Time: All day, Oct.18, 2019

(Faculty and Students of Tongji University:Free Admission)

| Co-Chairs
Yongqi Lou

Aldo Cibic

Jin Ma

| Conference Secretary General


| Registration & Badge Claim

■Time: 8:00 - 8:45, Oct.14, 2019

■Location: Dock (No.468 Yangshupu Rd.)


Conference Secretary: Dr. Wang

Tel: 18321024151

For Inquiries:



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