Michael Sedbon is an interaction designer and artist exploring the relationships between technology and natural forms.
Michael Sedbon’s work explores digital networked technologies and systems through their convergence with non-human intelligence (plants, unicellular organisms, insects, bacterias etc...) in regards to the Infocene problematics, seen as, our current cultural era where Information is the force having the greatest impact on human societies and environments. Michael holds a Master in Interaction Design from the London College of Communication. And a Master in Digital media and Communication from Iscom Paris.
Alt-C is an installation that uses electricity produced by plants to power a single board computer mining a cryptocurrency.
C t r l
Ctrl is an installation in which 10 Physarum Polycephalum (unicellular organisms also known as slime molds) are competing on John Conway’s Game of Life. An artificial intelligence (a genetic algorithm) manipulate their environment by making use of intense light flashes to optimize their behavior.
Wood Wide Web 1.0
Bellow the ground, a complex entanglement of organisms allow for information exchanges between plants. Pictured that way, a forest becomes a superorganism, capable of information processing, collective decision making, and swarm intelligence.
Sedbon on using Artificial Intelligence:
How has AI impacted your creative practice?
“My practice aim at studying the effect of the Infocene that I like to describe as our current cultural era where information (mostly in its digital form) is the greatest force shaping human societies, cultures, and environments. I mostly do this by building biological machines that function as thoughts experiments asking questions about the convergence of the fields of automation, biology and the politics of networks. To do this, I construct and deconstruct datasets that will impact other forms of intelligence (plants, bacterias, unicellular organisms, etc...). I put Artificial intelligence in perspective with other cognitive processes that are often disregarded by the human-centered concept of information processing and intelligence In this sense, Artificial Intelligence is at the center of my practice.”
What excites or worries you most about AI?
“Artificial intelligence is quickly getting embedded in every field, sometimes solving problems with 'brute force mechanism', potentially strengthening systems that are biased at there core with a huge amount of data. This increases the unequal distribution of powers. In the same time, readily available/open source algorithms are used in fields such as government surveillance and military processes from grassroots terrorist guerrilla to institutionalized armies and this is definitely something that scares me. The people in The Future of Life Institute are doing a great job at documenting and reflecting these risks.”
“On the other hand, Artificial intelligence and the existence of the massive datasets it relies on, also brings very positive breakthrough in all fields from medicine, to automation, atmospheric prediction, etc... If it changes one thing, it is definitely the pace of innovation. I think that what we need to change regarding this new paradigm is the way we evaluate innovation and how we scope the problem we are trying to solve with AI as it can often be holding the ambition of answering anything. there is an ongoing research project in New York that aims at gathering a huge dataset on New Yorker lifestyle (from diets to DNA and GPS data) thought out years of quantification/surveillance in exchange of pretty much everything that constitutes a perfect place: more security, social justice, better health care and distribution of resources but these questions need to be addressed through more urgent lenses such as policy makings, social studies, etc...”
What specific AI / machine learning technologies does you use?
“I am interested in the Bio-mimetic aspect of AI/Machine learning. I mostly used basic neural networks and genetic algorithms in previous works although I am also interested in works around reinforcement learning and generative adversarial networks mostly looking at their potential social impacts.”
Sedbon’s Selected Residencies and Exhibitions:
2019 Bio Art and Design Award exhibition, Mu, Eindhoven, Netherlands
2019 District 15 @ The Nate, Hong Kong, HKSAR
2019 Sovereign Nature @ Kraftwerk, Berlin, Germany
2019 Parallèle Kube @ Kube, Paris, France
2018 Pop-up Installation @ Showroom Futur, Paris, France
2018 Biodesign Here Now @ Open Cell, London Design Festival, London, UK
2018 Everything Happens So Much @ London Design Festival, London, UK
2018 Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria, September 2018
2018 Pharma Factory Residency @ Saint Georges University (Institute for Infection and Immunity), London, UK
2018 Friday Late @ Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, January 2018
Sedbon’s Selected Press:
2019 Alt-C — Designing for Synergy Between Our Ecosystems and Network Economics, Creative Applications Network
2019 Geld, das unter Pflanzen wächst, Deutschlandfunk kultur
Learn more about Michael Sedbon:
Sedbon’s website: https://michaelsedbon.com/