• Report Human-Machine Configurations Workshop 

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    Posted: 4 May 2018

    interactions between machinic and human limbs

    design and code of AI prostheses

    On March 16 – 18, Marco Donnarumma and Ana Rajcevic hosted their Human-Machine Configurations workshop at Baltan Laboratories. The workshop explored the radical potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to change human bodily experience. Participants learned how to design and code their own AI robotic prosthesis prototype.

    11 enthusiastic participants joined the workshop, all with various backgrounds, ranging from the field of design to engineering. We kicked off the workshop with an introduction on Friday evening. On Saturday and Sunday participants learned about designing and coding the prostheses and they were guided through their hands-on experimentations.

    Ana Rajcevic showed the participants how to design their prosthesis. Using industrial mold productions and techniques, participants experimented in making limbs, and tried out different forms and shapes. Marco Donnarumma taught the participants the techniques behind the movements of the robot. He showed the motors that enable the prostheses to move and guided participants in programming the neural networks that steer the motors. Under his guidance participants experimented with the code, by looking at how specific movements can be generated and what influence the physical world – gravity for example – has on the movement of the AI limb.

    Next to learning about techniques and building their own prototype hands-on, the group discussed the meaning and potential of these new technologies. What does it mean to have an autonomous prosthesis? What is the current stage of artificial technology at this stage? Marco pointed out that technology does not advance as fast as we think and that what we call Artificial Intelligence now has nothing to do with a conscious. He does not see AI taking over in the near future.

    For some, the ambiguous relationship between technology and the human body was an inspiration for their prototype. One prosthesis was made that represents a struggle between the machinic limb and the human limb. As long as a person moved with the gentle waving movement of the AI limb, they could collaborate. But when you resist the machine’s movement it spikes the power and starts to move quicker and stronger, the more you resist, the more violent it becomes.

    "It was great to be able to use such an advanced platform for direct feedback and prototyping and both Ana and Marco were inspiring facilitators, leaving plenty of room for us to experiment."

    "I found the workshop really beneficial for me and my work, worth coming all the way from London!"

    "For sure it was beneficial to get to know that AI world from [Ana and Marco’s] perspective. I really enjoyed the diversity of the participants of the workshop […] and it was quite beautiful that we all came together for this and we shared ideas and insights."

    Pictures of the exhibition.

    The workshop and exhibition are part of Marco Donnarumma’s SENTIENT MACHINES residency that Baltan organizes in collaboration with Robot Love. This program is kindly supported by Creative Industries Fund NL.


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