about the project
Mónica Rikić

Beca Leonardo BBVA 2018

Tool for social mediation, analysis and discussion based on the collective creation of an interactive robotic installation. Its objective is to visualize and analyze from art the effects and results of a future hybrid society between humans and artificial entities. It uses role-play-inspired social simulation as a research methodology for hybrid speculative societies.

The installation simulates the generation and evolution of a society through a BDI multi-agent system formed by a mother environment and ten intelligent moving robots. The type of society, its values ​​and its citizens - the robots - are defined through collective thinking workshops on the future that we want to project.

The public has the possibility to actively participate in the world through interactions with tablets, one per robot, which influences the behavior and evolution of society. They are a vital record of each robot, in which you can see their information, evolution and wishes they want to achieve to be happy.

There are desires that they can make for themselves and for others that need public interaction. Each action will have a social consequence that must be taken into account.

The main objective is to visualize and analyze the power relations that we project within a society in a physical way, through robots that represent individuals, their state and behavior.

The differential and innovative point of this project is the development of a reusable technological tool for direct social experimentation through art.

concept and background

In relation to my recent artistic practice, in the past year I have been researching about programming languages as generators of cultural grammars. The intention was to develop a methodology of alternative education around new technologies, through which to reflect on the socio-political and cultural implications of code, without the need of using the technology itself, but through physical interaction between humans through performance and theatre.

From this research, in which the participants of the outcome workshop sessions became human compilers machines of algorithms written by other humans, is where the idea of this project of creating a hybrid multi-agent social simulation came out. The goal now is to simulate a tangible space where technology is not considered or used only as a means to a specific goal, but to be established as the container and generator of a social construction and collective intelligence.

Historically, social simulations through technology have taken different forms like video games, cellular automatas or social networks. This proposal is conceptually based in multiagent systems, which allow the development of a collective intelligence based on the interaction between individual nodes. The main characteristics of these artificial individuals are: being autonomous, having the ability to relate and react with the environment and between them, and to be proactive.

For this project, following the formal line of my artistic practice, an experimental system of tangible human-machine interaction will be created. The multi-agent environment will consist of different modules connected to each other in a local network. Each one of them will represent an artificial entity created by smart robots based on machine learning. They will have a physical robotic body that would allow them to move around the space and communicate, between them and with the public, based on the parameters of behavior and social status that they occupy. Likewise, the public will be able to communicate with them or change their position in space to affect their possibilities of relationship and communication, attending or not to their needs, that will be expressed by the same robots through different outputs.

values and goals

The differential and innovative point of this project is the development of a reusable technological tool for direct social experimentation through art, both in software and hardware. With reusable I mean that the project is considered as a tool capable of creating -and saving the results - different procedural environments as many times as you want. A very important point to keep in mind is that, once the project is finalized, there is the intention of leave an open software tool available to whoever wants to use it and / or modify it to create their own research or derivatived works (under license CC BY-NC-SA 3.0).

I firmly believe in the idea of sharing knowledge, and therefore one the recurrent approaches in the formalization of my art practice, is to create pieces that can later be tools for practical use by third parties. This project will be raised and executed from the beginning of the development as an open platform to be shared

In summary, the basis of the project will be to create a tool for creating multiagent social simulations from intelligent robots that coexist in an environment generated from some pre-established parameters. The main objective in this case, as I pointed out before, is to visualize and analyze communication and power relations within a society in a physical way, but taking into account possible actions within the medium, applications may fit with different aspects to analyze by whoever requires it.

The data resulting from the actions and the evolution of the simulation will be stored in a database from which a subsequent report, or other form of exhibition of the results, could be created.