Interview by Visual Collaborative
September 2019 4 min read
Xárene Eskandar is a researcher and designer with a background ranging from yacht and automotive design to architecture and live visuals. Her interests in the philosophy of technology radiates in her multidisciplinary work, lectures, and exhibits. As a special feature in our “Supernova” interview series, Xárene shares her observations on climate change, capitalism and its relationship with the global ecosystem.
(VC) Xárene is a beautiful name, similar to the essence and intriguing work you do. What does it mean?
(VC) How can society distinguish valid environmental claims compared to groups who politicize climate change for capitalist reasons?
(Xárene) We live in the era of Capitalism, therefore everything will be monetized for capitalistic gain. It is the duty of everyone, no matter under which economic structure they live and operate in, to have a general understanding of economic philosophies in order to test everything and every value against them. Under Capitalism, everyone has monetary motivations; true altruism is rare. Not to say that it is wrong to desire monetary gain, but if it is the only purpose of saying a company or an activist, then we have a problem because once they reach their goal, they will drop their mission. So we need to research their histories, to see if their mission is deep-rooted or shallow.
(VC) From your technological vantage point, can Emotional Intelligence be built into Artificial Intelligence or this is like running on a fool’s errand?
(Xárene) The problem of artificial intelligence is that it is Othered. If we think about technologies as augmenting us—augmented intelligence—then emotional intelligence is already built-in. So the fool’s errand started when AI was placed outside the human.
sustainable means how long can an environment sustain a necessary industry, no matter if it is fossil or renewable, to be maintained for the longest possible time. We’re thinking centuries, not a few decades. How can there be an ecosystem balance of industry and environment?
(VC) Does your current work or observations on climate change align with any Sustainable Development Goals?
(Xárene) Anyone working today should be working with the UN’s sustainable development goals in their plan of action. We cannot afford the unsustainable models any longer. For my company, sustainable means how long can an environment sustain a necessary industry, no matter if it is fossil or renewable, to be maintained for the longest possible time. We’re thinking centuries, not a few decades. How can there be an ecosystem balance of industry and environment?
Photo courtesy of Xárene Eskandar
(VC) In our present times, AI and Big Data are no longer buzzwords but a reality. What are your thoughts on Transhumanism. Do you foresee dangers or there are more societal benefits to reap from this converged trajectory?
(Xárene) Osman Haque has written an excellent piece on transhumanism and I would defer to that. Transhumanism is an exclusionary, privileged, and detached philosophy. I will not entertain it unless I see a majority of the Earth’s inhabitants, across all socio-economic levels benefitting from it. They don’t.
(VC) You seem to have a relationship with the Arts and Cars? how do the words “Visual Collaborative” apply to this hobby or living passion?
(Xárene) Cars and Gambler 500 rallies are my hobbies and quite separate from my work. To be honest, I can’t answer this question in any satisfactory way! Maybe being a designer and a photographer/filmmaker makes me more aware of the image I create with my car and my team but other than that it’s where I escape realities of my work with climate change.
(VC) At this stage of your career considering your present commitments, If you could work alongside any notable personality or enterprise. Who would it be and why?
(Xárene) NASA and SpaceX. I’d like to work on terraforming other planets. Honestly, haven’t yet looked into it because we’ve been so focused on Earth for the time being.
Photo courtesy of Xárene Eskandar
(VC) What kind of work, commercial or personal if any can the world expect from Xárene within the next 5 years?
(Xárene) In five years everyone with internet access should have access to our platform in order to monitor climate anywhere and by any corporation. Climate data and information is inaccessible and we want to put it in everyone’s hands because we believe innovation will come from the knowledge.