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An exploration of plausible interspecies relations

This project will introduce one way to deal with multiple futures and investigate the opportunities speculative approaches offer when it comes to highly complex problems. Grounded in the field of design fiction, this work combines insights of the climate impact research community, technology meta trends and plant science, which work as base for the exploration of relationships between humans, plants and technology.


Enjoy your walk through four probable future scenarios.

Scenario 1: Cooperation, sustainability & democracy

Shared goods and gardens have become common. Instead of self driving cars the streets are crowded with self driving landscapes. Contemplative driving gardens, where citizens can take a walk by approaching a destination and faster types crowded by lower, resistant plants that don’t mind acceleration. Energy is gathered by sun, wind and the plants’ bio power. Some of the vehicles even carry urban crops to supply citizens that enjoy gardening. The plant needs are equalized with people’s needs.


When a mobile crop unit is ready to be harvested it informs the garden community. It is also possible to order certain fruits or vegetables in advance and the garden sends a message when ready. Outside the cities there are different vehicles, less floral and faster, to reach a destination far away. Decisions within the communities are mostly made together which often causes delay. But this is taken into account for the sake of democracy.





Humans: People are mindful of the social, cultural, and economic challenges due to environmental degradation and inequality. Since 2020 Humanity increasingly advances in effective cooperation and collaboration as the emphasis shifts from economic growth towards human well-being. Consumption is oriented towards sustainability including lower material, resource and energy intensity.


Plants: Biodiversity and ecosystems can recover and climate conditions improve step by step. Urban greens, crops and beauties play a prominent role in the cityscape. Some of them are even mobile to enrich every part of the city.


Technology: Sustainable technologies are quite common and enable an ecological lifestyle. Data is used responsibly to optimize autonomous mobility and to avoid inefficient use of energy. Cyber-physical-systems are used reasonably and augmented reality supports human - plant - machine - interaction.

The blog post introduces the new contemplative U6. But one User, Laura, is skeptic. She often gets lost on the new vehicle and proposes to create a short cut. Some agree some wonder why she doesn't take a Direct Unit when she is in a hurry. A long discussion begins but the users will find a compromise: if bio diversity is ok with a short cut, there will be a survey and a testing for shortcut.

Scenario 2: Conflict, protectionism, struggle

Robots and drones maintain huge monocultures that struggle with climate conditions. Invasive species learned how to hack the agricultural communication systems and misuse them. Pollinator drones become handy vehicles for dissemination, and machines that apply herbicides are tricked by mimicking the crops language. The most effective invader is a thistle called Equinops Cupidus. As this invasion is becoming overwhelming and is starting to endanger national food supply, the government involves special forces to fight the plague. Strict rules for agriculturists and a code of conduct aim to contribute to the fight against the greedy thistle.


Humans: Since 2016 more and more states have shifted towards protectionism and nationalism. Regional conflicts and concerns about security push people to focus on regional issues. Several states move toward more

authoritarian forms of government with highly regulated economies. International cooperation becomes more and more difficult, international conflicts are on the rise, which makes climate policy impossible.


Plants: Deforestation due to humans high need for fossil fuels accelerates a wave of mass extinction. In 2047 most of the land is used for agriculture and resources. Wildfires are common, only resistant, adaptive species survive in the rapidly changing climate.


Technology: Because investments in education and technological progress is low, development stagnates since 2030. Governments focus on armament and basic food supply. Highly automated agriculture employs old-fashioned technology.

The article introduces farmer Schmüller, who discovers a suspicious plant in his acre. It soon turns out to be the greedy thistle.  A first sight it seems that his neighbour intentionally infested Schmüllers with the highly invasive species. But nearly all farms in the reagion are affected by the plague. Dr. Hackenstein from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) investigates the case and gives an overview about current developments. Meanwhile the state has released their agenda by rectifying the alarming situation. Furthermore they have issued strict guidelines for the treatment of any outbreaks and infestations. In April the state issued the case of Echinops Cupidus a national emergency. The MoA has released a repeated warning that failure to comply with national regulations will have consequences for the individual. As the state’s and the peoples well-being depends on a working agriculture, defeating the floral invasion has become a top priority.

Scenario 3: Individualism, consumerism, optimism,

strong belief in technology

Plants can be printed or rearranged. They embody botanic principles like modularity, symmetry and cells but can look completely different. Humans can customize them to their needs and taste in easy steps. There are even DIY kits to learn how the process takes place. Fashion and style are central elements of daily life. One trend is to grow fashion accessories, flower crowns and diadems are especially en vogue. This phenomena mirrors young peoples longing for nature in a world shaped by technology.


Humans: Don‘t look back! Hedonistic individualism and joy of consumerism accelerate markets and product development. Society enables disadvantaged population groups to participate and living standards improve worldwide. Optimism and the belief in limitless technological progress shape lifestyles and attitudes.

Plants: As humans focus on themselves, the extinction of many species goes unnoticed. People are confident that climate change will be maintained by geo-engeniering, and that biodiversity can be regained by bio-engeniering. Fragmented plants have become common. In the rush of gene editing, plant principles are applied to surfaces and textiles. Step by step, classic crops are substituted by tissue cultures. Beauties and pets are highly modified and adapted to consumers taste and style.


Technology: Competitive markets, increasingly participatory societies and a strong focus on innovation facilitate rapid technological progress. Decentralized manufacturing, 3-printing and biotechnology

The Video Blogger introduces a DIY Fashion Hack to individualize the product even more: Simply harvest the wreath earlier and you get a more decent crown. Not that opulent as the fully grown one and suitable for every outfit.

Scenario 4: Inequality, struggle, conflict, improvisation

Amongst all the pollution and waste a special species has developed, a highly eutrophic algae that accumulates contaminants, especially lead. It has become a treasured, unconventional resource for the poorer population. It is especially popular for teenagers, as it enables them to join online communities. They call them powerpets that are utilized as a kind of battery: If kept in the right surrounding and with the right conditions they produce energy when triggered by a concurring species. People started to use DIY circuits and accumulators to generate energy for their mobile devices, a practice which is not entirely harmless. Accidents often occur and harvests as well as markets are controlled by gangs, that profit from the popular demand.


Humans: As inequality and stratification extend to the extreme, conflict and unrest become increasingly common. Lower income areas even struggle to provide access to water, sanitation and health care.

Teenagers retract to a digital sanctuary, where the gap doesn‘t feel as big. In addition to the hard conditions of their daily life, kids with a more difficult social background struggle to join the online self projection.


Plants: Privileged populations appreciate extravagant beauties and pets. A new market for rare species witnesses tremendous growth, while natural ecosystems continue to struggle with climate challenges. Plants depend on adapting to the rapid changes in their environment. In the most polluted coastal regions a new, very special kind of algae has evolved. It defends it‘s territory with electricity.


Technology: Development is advanced in the high-tech economy and high income sectors. Low income areas lag behind and often have to improvise in providing energy and food supply. Citizens need to take action on their own. Old fashioned devices are reused, repaired and up-cycled.

A chat between two friends: Justin crashed his powerpet and needs advice. He is afraid that it will explode. One of his friends already had an accident while building a battery.

Concept & Design: Katja Budinger

A Masterthesis at the FH Potsdam, 2017 (Reviewed by Prof. Frank Heidmann & Prof. Boris Müller)


Scenarios based on SSPs. Source: O’Neill, B. C., Kriegler, E., Ebi, K. L., Kemp-Benedict, E., Riahi, K., Rothman, D. S., ... & Levy, M. (2015).

The roads ahead: narratives for shared socioeconomic pathways describing world futures in the 21st century. Global Environmental Change.