Human Ingenuity in VR/AR Products by Disney fmr Senior Producer

Over the last 27 years, we have advanced from the most rudimentary user interfaces to the creation of Virtual Reality. 

From games as basic as PacMan, we now have VR, AR, and MR technology that blurs the lines between the digital and the physical worlds.

Many people believe that it will take just another 27 years for us to achieve Artificial Super Intelligence. This will permanently and fundamentally change our relationship to technology, to ourselves, to each other, and to the world, in ways that it is impossible to predict from our current level of understanding. 

The year 2045 can be a sci-fi horror scenario like Black Mirror. Or it can be a positive, inclusive and progressive world defined by our values. Kathleen Cohen believes it is our job and our responsibility to take control of this narrative, and define the year 2045 before it is upon us.

Big Data is Overrated Compared to Human Ingenuity

Forbes recently ran a headline that stated: “Big Data is Overrated Compared to Human Ingenuity.” Kathleen would take this a step further: The future is overrated compared to human ingenuity. 

As Product Managers, we are required to look beyond ourselves and be leaders, mind readers, referees and visionaries for our entire teams. We are the power behind the throne. We are responsible for effecting positive change in the workplace.

This requires us to deeply examine our own minds. We look at how products are created. How they are solved. How we rationalize our thoughts. How we deal with the consequences. And we take steps to improve this. 

What Are the Values That Define Us?

Kathleen Cohen believes Burning Man to be a perfect example of Human Ingenuity. It is a seven-mile square space where Silicon Valley is transported to the beach for a week. It’s a place where there is permission to create. And it has had a profound influence on corporate America.

The 10 stated principles of Burning Man are:

  • Invite new ideas
  • Humans gifting their time, creativity, themselves
  • Social environment unmediated by commerce, transactions, ads
  • Self-reliance.
  • Self-expression.
  • Communal efforts.
  • Civic responsibility.
  • Leave no trace – personal accountability (0 trash cans).
  • Participation – no spectating.
  • Immediacy.  

Do you know the principles of the corporations you work for? Do you live by them every day? It took the founder of Burning Man 18 years to document their ethos. The mere act of doing so exponentially enhanced the impact of their organization. 

Create Alignment Through Happiness

As a Product Manager, how do you create alignment between the various diverse people who you work with every single day? You do it through shared values. You do it through playfulness. You do it through happiness. You do it by giving people a chance to be human.

Defining the Future Narrative

When it comes to defining our potential and who we are, are we going to make the decision ourselves based on our stated values, or are we going to leave it up to AI? Instead of leaving it up to Hollywood to “storytell” this future for you, help create and define the story. Help shape the future before it is upon us.

Consider the following storytelling elements which are of increasing importance as the year 2045 and Artificial Super Intelligence approaches:

  • Diversity: Of gender, ethnicity and everything we take it to mean today, plus neurodiversity – how are people with various so-called “conditions” actually providing unique value and perspective?
  • Empowered youth and street cultures.
  • Gender definitions.
  • Human body – man vs machine – what is human?
  • Evolution of economics with reference to decentralized registers
  • Space travel and colonization – what are our values around this?
  • Environmental awareness, with reference to Biomimicry and IoT.

Your Purpose

Too many people in the tech space lead with the tool, rather than the purpose. It is estimated that by 2030 – that’s just 12 years away – 80 million jobs worldwide will be lost to machines. It’s not enough to tell those 80 million people to take a computer programming course. We need to teach soft skills. Values. Beliefs systems. Teamwork. Diversity.

“2045 is coming. It is our responsibility to define it.”

Meet The #ProductCon Speaker:
Kathleen Cohen

Former Disney Senior Producer and Project Manager, Kathleen Cohen, has a long experience in the product arena. She’s currently researching, creating, building, and producing immersive and disruptive experiences. Including future storytelling narratives, IoT, AI and AR/VR/MR/XR at The Collaboratorium. She was a speaker in the 2018 edition of #ProductCon Los Angeles. You can watch the full ‘Human Ingenuity in AR/VR Products’ talk here.



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