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Autodesk University: Creativity 2.0—Relearning How to Be Creative

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    Autodesk University: Creativity 2.0—Relearning How to Be Creative

    This year, Autodesk University introduced a new series of Innovation Forums designed to inspire and energize all of us and get everyone thinking more creatively and in entirely new ways, and the Creativity 2.0 session did not disappoint.
    Tom Wujek set the stage by talking about the future of creativity and the impact of it on our personal and professional lives and the industries we serve.  Technology is growing exponentially, transforming industries and the way we imagine and envision possibilities.  The number of processors produced on the planet last year is greater than the number of grains of rice grown in the same period!  This improves our productivity and democratizes creativity.
    Tom said that the impact of technology is also diluting our attention.  Tools, from pens to computers become part of our nervous system. A recent study showed that how we get into from the web is different from paper.  We can read the Internet much faster but we remember less.
    So technology has unexpected consequences. Human brain capacity doubles every 160,000 years, but computing doubles every year. The technology is rewiring our brains. We see the world through the tools we use.
    On another front, this rapid technological change is creating turbulence and chaos in our Industries. We need to reinvent our businesses.  How does the auto industry change when traditional manufacturing is replaced by 3D printing? The Urbi is the world’s first 3D-printed vehicle and it works.
    The creativity level is growing upwards just like technology. We are literally changing our brains.  What will it mean for the next generation of users? Kids are already going up to magazines and TVs, trying to use them like iPads®.  When these objects don’t respond as expected, the kids think these objects are broken!
    With that Tom introduced Sir Ken Robinson.
    Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative

    Sir Ken Robinson explained that the tools available today are awe inspiring. They are helping to generate a revolution and there are challenges no other generation has had to deal with. And the outcome is unpredictable. Comparing today’s world with the arc of his own life, Sir Ken said that the world he was born into was very different.  There were no Best Buys, and there were only 4 electronic items that his family bought when he was young: a record player, a telephone with party line (Sir Ken said that listening into the party line was like an early form of Facebook), a TV (his brother Neal was “the remote”), and a radio. That was it.
    The revolution of technology is getting faster. It is impossible to predict the cultural impact of technology.  Sir Ken pointed out that people thought TV would never replace the radio because people cannot listen while they do other activities. Instead, TV changed the nature of culture. People made time for it.
    Another factor to consider: the size and scale of the human population. Serious statisticians are trying to figure out the total number of humans that have been on the planet throughout history—estimates range from 60 and 110 billion. In the last 300 years, we’ve gone off in a different direction from the rest of the planet. Population has been growing exponentially. How many can live on earth? Estimates range from 15 billion if we consume at the level of Rwandans vs. 1.2 billion at US consumption levels. This is unsustainable.  We’ve entered a new era, the Anthropocene.  We have to solve the problems we have now created by being more creative.
    Sir Ken continued by pointing out that our current education systems tacitly suppress creativity. Imagination helps to answer a puzzle (why have humans come to dominate the planet?).  Imagination is the engine of human cultural change. There’s a lot we can do to make people more creative.  We’re born with the powers, but we don’t all develop them.  Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value.  We need to revolutionize our education systems which are mass systems by personalizing and customizing education for each child. 
    Interconnectivity: The Evolution of Digital Culture

    Mark Foster Gage took the stage next to talk about how technology is limiting creativity. Mark said that if we focus too much on individual software packages, these technologies get in the way of cross pollination between different professions and industries. At the same time, software can function like a rosetta stone between the disciplines.  Mark pointed out that automotive design thinks about surfaces very differently from architects.  He has been taking automotive software to design buildings.  He is creating solar pods that open when the is sun out, but close to protect the surface collectors. Mark asked, “What if architecture started to think about fashion and jewelry?”, then showed how this idea was already being applied using a building interior made up of mirrored facets designed to show fashion from all angles. Mark closed by encouraging all of us to engage the world in different ways. He said, “The person next to you could be the solution to your problem.”
    Welcome to the Lab

    Next, Louise Leakey, came on stage to describe the initiative by Autodesk and National Museum in Kenya.  This initiative enables other to “visit” the lab which stores human fossils and fossils of other animals who lived concurrently with these early hominids.  You can view 3D models the fossils, compare them with other hominid species, and generate 3D printouts of replicas of the fossils.  This initiative is allowing people to interact with these fossils in an entirely new way, and gives us all the opportunity to think about where was came from by accessing this collection.
    Try this out at brings it to life so people can build their own collection. Gives us all the opportunity to think about where we came from.
    Building Worlds: Creating Narrative Space through Immersive Design

    Alex McDowell, took the stage next to talk about the process of creativity in the film industry—specifically when creating a fantasy environment in a film. According to Alex, ideas happen this way. You wake up in the morning with the spark of an idea: in the upcoming movie Upside Down, two people who live in very different worlds are in love. How do you take this idea and form an alternate world?
    Alex says the flow of world building goes from  inception > prototyping > manufacturing > finishing. In the end you visualize a coherent and immersive world. 
    First you start with the landscape. Next you map the world (the film’s landscape is based on Montreal), next you create the society ( in this film, it is a rich world vs. poor world scenario where the lower world is exploited by the upper world. In the center is a structure joining the two (a corporate structure), next you map out the social politics, and finally the culture. 
    Alex showed how Autodesk® Maya® was used on the project. 
    What I Do for Fun: Tools, Education, and Creativity

    Saul Griffith of Otherlab took us on a rousing journey of imagination and creativity. According to Saul, Otherlab is “the place where other things get done” and proceed to show us “What I do for fun.”   Some of his marvelous inventions included a boat propelled at amazing speeds by a 20 meter kite 400 ft. above the boat.  The boat includes sensors that detect wave height.
    He showed us one of his earlier efforts—Makani Power’s autonomous flying kite as it generates power. The device is essentially a “turbine on the wing.”  The device can be made for much less than standard wind generators.
    Saul said, “We’re always doing something so unusual that existing design tools don’t work for us.”  One of the most entertaining yet seemingly practical innovations is Otherlab’s Pneubots.  Saul described them as “walking bags of fabric.”  These soft, compliant, organic designs offer super high strength to weight ratios.  He showed us a 1/2 lb robot picking up a 50 lb bucket. And unlike traditional steel robots, one of the largest inflatable robots costs only about $5000 to build.
    Another innovation is the Heliostat Actuator. This device is  based on origami, and offers a lower cost way of gathering sunlight.
    Saul concluded that “it's time for an intervention in engineering education.”  First, this kind of education needs to start way before age 18.  We need to let children decide what they want to make and give them simple tools for producing things.  And we need change the process by which things are designed and made

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