Thursday, January 18, 2007

Welcome to Arch 562

The Arch 562 Robotic Ecologies seminar met for our introductory session on Wednesday night (1-17-07). We will be meeting every Wed. night from 7:00-10:00pm in Campbell Hall 108. Looking forward to an interesting and productive semester!

Here is the text from the intro of the syllabus:
This seminar is not just about architectural machines that move. It is about groups of architectural machines that move with intelligence. We will call these new organizations “Robotic Ecologies”: promiscuous new environments brought forth by the rapid release of advanced computation into the physical realm. The ideas we will explore in this seminar are an attempt to understand, to work with and against, these new technological (and some say spiritual) paradigms. Our explorations will be as much about exposing the dangers of our twenty-first century technological imperative as they are about celebrating their latent potential. We will no doubt be both terrified and thrilled by the rich, diverse and fascinating territories currently emerging in the arts and sciences.

The crossing of architecture and robotics represents one of the most promising and perhaps exigent technological intersections in recent times. Robots are sensing, thinking and moving entities. They are different from most machines in that they are capable of intelligent behavior – the capacity to learn, adapt and act on their senses and intuitions. Groups of robots, or robotic ecologies, are unique in their capacity to work as an organized system: rather than merely acting on their individual desires, robotic ecologies can work collectively in swarms or packs. Without much fanfare, an extraordinary new phylum of intelligent machines is coming to life in laboratories, studios and machine shops across the planet. Designers are building and programming kinematic self-replicating machines, modular self-assembling robots, fields of sun-tracking robotic sunflowers, and the like. As Marshall McLuhan famously said, “First we build the tools, and then they build us.” This seminar is about experimenting, exposing and exalting these new tools, processes and technologies. It is about exploring what happens when endless arrays of intelligent machines come together to form and define the world around us.