we, the robots

We, the robots from Helena Frijns on Vimeo.

A collaboration with Carlos Martín and Lucía Martín

We, the robots is an installation that was shown at Futures – Open Lab Expo, an exhibition of the MSc Media Technology programme. Three robots  performed movements in response to their environment that were a result of the artificial neural network they were connected to. An artificial neural networks is a kind of learning algorithm used in computer science, that is inspired by the structure and functional aspects of biological neural networks. This neural network allowed the robots to be trained by us. By repeatedly having a robot perform a reaction to an object approaching its distance sensor, it could “learn” how to respond when something enters its visual field.

Machines, even when they deploy very simple behaviors, can seem very lifelike to us. We can be tempted to project a mind with intentions of its own on a computer controlled object. We wanted to see whether we could achieve a similar effect by connecting small robots to a feedforward neural network.