Medialab redraws the boundaries between the natural and the artificial to talk about intelligence in all its forms

Bani Brusadin, Bogna Konior and Ed Keller as mentors for LAB#03 Synthetic Minds
Bani Brusadin, Bogna Konior and Ed Keller as mentors for LAB#03 Synthetic Minds

Bani Brusadin, Bogna Konior and Ed Keller will be the mentors of a collective program aimed at citizens from anywhere in the world interested in developing projects or the general public.

Medialab Matadero kicks off LAB#03, its third speculative research and production laboratory. Entitled Synthetic Minds, this third laboratory revolves around distributed cognition, cybernetics, alien semiotics and other forms of intelligence that coexist on the planet, based on a series of reflections that confront and expand the current debate on artificial intelligence..

As Eduardo Castillo-Vinuesa, curatorial head of Medialab Matadero, points out, "in an era defined by the rise of machine learning, data mining or the multiple technologies grouped under the term artificial intelligence, we propose to go beyond the purely technological to the very essence of what we understand by 'intelligence' to analyze how it materializes, also in non-human or even non-biological forms, and how these forms challenge our perception of the world and our own agency within it".

With this premise, the interdisciplinary LAB#03 Synthetic Minds program will bring together, through an open call in two phases, a diverse group of artists, critical thinkers and experts from various fields, along with citizens from anywhere in the world interested in participating, to explore the role that the deliberate composition of intelligent systems will play in shaping our collective future. The first phase, aimed at people interested in submitting a project idea related to the proposed theme, opens today June 29 and remains open until September 17.

Redefining the idea of 'mind' beyond the 'cerebral'

LAB#03 Synthetic Minds is a program of activities with workshops, critical seminars and public events that culminates with a prototyping laboratory for the development of experimental projects, and aims to review and reformulate the concept of intelligence to explore the opportunities that this new approach offers at a planetary level.

As a starting point, LAB#03 transcends the idea of 'artificial', understanding synthetic in the sense of 'synthesis', of the sum of parts, to refer to the deliberate composition of different systems, intelligent in this case, which can be biological, technological or a mixture of the two. Thus, according to this concept, Synthetic Minds presupposes as 'mind' any system capable of generating the necessary interactions to respond and adapt to its environment, encompassing a wide range of systems -from neural networks or ant colonies to the vast distributed intelligences that regulate our ecosystems or the economic structures of financial markets- that operate simultaneously and interdependently on multiple scales and forms.

Are we mere passive components in this system of systems or do we have the capacity for agency within their interaction? What is our mediating role among these diverse forms of intelligence? Can the design of new forms of intelligence contribute to positively address the challenges of our interconnected world, in tune with human and ecosystemic values that guarantee the planetary future?

In mid-October, Medialab will publish the eight selected projects and will open a second call phase, this time aimed at people interested in participating in the development of these projects, signing up for one of them according to their own interests and concerns. 

To close this process, which is fed by the activities programmed by Medialab in this same period, within LAB#03 Synthetic Minds, the prototyping workshop will be held where the working groups, in an intensive way, carry out the formalization of their projects, exchanges and first conclusions to be shared in a public presentation, in the OpenLAB that will close LAB#03.

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