As Manuel Delanda concludes in War in the Age of Intelligent Machines “we are undergoing a transfer of cognitive structures from humans to machines in the late twentieth
century, and this is a historical shift in the relation of human beings both to machines and to information.” As a bike rider, this is scary in the inevitable move to self-driving cars. It becomes more terrifying when thinking about Cambridge Analytica's exploitation of 87 million Facebook users and their data, in microtargeting and manipulation of the electorates in the US and England.

All these technologies began innocently enough. The feel-good Harvard “student-project” becomes Facebook; a multibillion-dollar business, through invoking the corporate goal of “togetherness”. Though now in it’s ubiquity this platform becomes the means by which electorates can be massively manipulated and instead we now feel “together alone” as MIT Professor Sherry Turkle writes. We are led to believe, we are experiencing community and feel the glow of human contact, though it is the face of the algorithm we are seeing, and which “sees” us.

Inventions and machines often begin with creative epiphanies, and these can start with humble inventions surrounding getting food, water, and energy. As a machine lover/maker, I am obsessed with these goals, however also concerned with their environmental costs. I feel a great passion and curiosity when hacking and creating new interfaces and working in AI and robotics, though also feel guilt with so many of our technologies having a legacy of environmental costs through the discarding of non-renewable plastics, and disruption to so many natural living systems. Indeed, we are in a “War in the Age of Intelligent Machines”, though the more lethal machines are perhaps our “Weapons of Mass Distribution” which is a play on the artist Mel Chin’s artwork the “Warehouse of Mass Distribution”, which is a U.S Peacekeeper nuclear missile in the shape of a mobile home. With shopping for our homes, goods are now distributed with military efficiency by Amazon and Baidu and are perhaps more damaging to the long-term health of our planet, than weapons of Mass Destruction.

Indescriminently and innocently enough, plastic, and phthalates are entering our food chains. Global warming through C02 emissions is warming our oceans and causing nitrite-rich waters defining increasing major oxygen deficient zones. Many times these technologies have left us in dire environmental straits, though at other times they seem a savior. We can, for example, we grow more food with fertilizers, though in the process we make larger dead zones in our oceans. Perhaps there is a better way?

This talk will focus on a practice of looking at “life as inspiration” and the sensibilities of creating strategies and solutions for artists working toward a gentle, considerate and symbiotic relationship with our technological world. Friendlier expressions through the use of naturally degradable materials, soft robotics, artificial life, interactivity and natural plants and machine animal interfaces with social practices can and is transforming how we think about art and environment. The bio inspired and soft robotic works of Ken Rinaldo and collaborative works with Amy Youngs will frame and help explore issues, surrounding humane design, food, water, and energy. Additional artists such as Mary Mattingly, Hans Haacke, and Natalie Jeremijenko will be cited to further reference issues and strategies of battling climate change and moving toward sustainable, gentle and considerate technologies.

Ken Rinaldo is internationally recognized for his interactive installations blurring the boundaries between the organic and inorganic and speaking to the co-evolution between living and evolving technological cultures. His work interrogates fuzzy boundaries and posits that as new machinic & algorithmic species arise, that we need to better understand the complex intertwined ecologies that machinic semi-living species may create. Focused on trans-species communication Rinaldo seeks to empower animal, insect, bacterial and emergent machine intelligence. Rinaldo's works have been commissioned/displayed in over 30 countries earning him an Award of Distinction at Ars Electronica Austria and first prize for Vida 3.0 for Autopoiesis. Ken Rinaldo is an Artist / Professor in the Department of Art, Art & Technology The Ohio State University.