samedi 19 septembre 2009

# SWARM /// Interview of Valerie Chatelet

Valerie Chatelet is the publication director of Interactive Cities, published in 2007 by HYX. You can download her own article from HYX website.

You are using swarm/network intelligence as a process of creation. Would you say that it is a form of loss of control from the architect ? If it is the case why would you think it is relevant in our era ?

Valerie Chatelet: What is pretty fascinating in emergent processes in human situations without any centralized or voluntary organization, is not really their intelligence, but much more their absurdity. We keep calling intelligence patterns which emerges at a superior level from the one where were taken the decisions, even when those patterns are fatal. We are the heir of a fascination for emergent processes which take their roots in the origins of computer science and simulation possibilities. This fascination is still persisting nowadays, in particular for the architects, by the omnipotence that provides the enormity of flux we potentially succeed to manipulate.
Although if anthill are magic/intelligent in their mechanism despite its composing individuals’ simplicity, what emerges from human society is more about traffic jams, congestion phenomena, pollution, resources waste, stock exchange crisis, public space privatization, urban spreading or scattering.
The point is not to simulate those processes, neither to reproduce them but on the contrary to come out of those emergent absurdity. There are thus two intervention hypothesis: the structure or the awareness. Structures which could be architecture works are imposing themselves in a centralized way and find their legitimacy in the fact that they allow to go beyond the emergent phenomena’s insufficiency. What is new nowadays is the move offered to architecture to design, not anymore structures which organize and solve emergence’s anomalies, but to design devices allowing people to become collectively aware of these phenomena and to modify their behaviors in order to avoid their absurdity.

Swarm intelligence is based on a neighborhood negotiation; how do you make that happen as a designer ?

Valerie Chatelet: I struggle to allow people to go beyond the neighboring negotiation and to establish tools which allow them to choose depending on their interests on the one hand, and on the other hand, depending on a sharp awareness of aggregation of behaviors, not only of their neighbors, but of further away people as well.

What are the political impacts of such a process ?

Valerie Chatelet: Huge! In a first time, it surely is a re-legitimacy of politic but which should on a longer time basis, make the representation politic as we know it disappear. However, I prefer not to anticipate too much since it is nowadays too difficult to get those impacts.

Would you say that we are heading towards an interactive ubiquity ? May you tell us a short story about it ?

Valerie Chatelet: Sure! It seems to me that ubiquitous interactivity is ineluctable. Nevertheless, it won’t universal, neither in its geographical and spatial diffusion, nor in its shapes, on the contrary of what seems to think most of ubiquity thinkers and apostles. There will be as many ubiquitous interactivities that we have cultures and societies nowadays.
The story I am thinking about is the one which was recounted in an old Wired magazine about the traffic management in Singapore. Everything is perfectly controlled there, space is full of sensors and technology and traffic jams have disappeared which makes the inhabitants very satisfied. This article’s author was concluding that Singapore’s most important achievement was not so much in the technologies which have been developed and which was existing in the same way in the United States, but more in the administration’s power and its capacity of coordinate itself which was totally unimaginable at this time in the States, for technical issues just as much as its social status.
Two big directions are growing: the decisions’ automation starting from live captured data depending on the experts’ knowledge or the devices development allowing a collective awareness to emerge and to modify behaviors without controlling them.
I believe in mirrors, not in automatism.

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