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Lichtsuchende: Exploring the Emergence of a Cybernetic Society

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Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNTCS,volume 9027)


In this paper, we describe Lichtsuchende, an interactive installation, built using a society of biologically inspired, cybernetic creatures who exchange light as a source of energy and a means of communication. Visitors are invited to engage with the installation using torches to influence and interact with the phototropic robots. As well as describing the finished piece, we explore some of the issues around creating works based on biologically inspired robots. We present an account of the development of the creatures in order to highlight the gulfs between conceptual ideas of how to allow emergent behaviours and the manners in which they are implemented. We also expose the interrelations and tensions between the needs of the creatures as they emerge and the needs of the creators, to understand the duet between the cyber-organisms and their initiators. Finally, we look at the ways in which creators, robots and visitors are enrolled to perform their functions, so that the network of activity can be woven between all parties.


  • Artificial Life
  • Emergent Behaviour
  • Conceptual Idea
  • Actor Network Theory
  • Robot Swarm

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Thanks to the Innovative Initiative Fund of the University of Edinburgh.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-16498-4_15
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    The work won the 3rd place Public Choice Award at the 2014 New Technological Art Awards (

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    Roughly: \(d\theta _{lr}/dt \sim i_l - i_r\) where \(\theta _{lr}\) is the pan or horizontal alignment of the head, and \(i_l\) and \(i_r\) are the intensities of the left and right sensors respectively, with a similar relation holding for the vertical (tilt) orientation. However, tweaks have been made to stabilise this in an effort to improve the interactivity.

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    The modification to the general simplex algorithm is largely to cover the idea that moving to a new point to sample it is expensive, while actually evaluating the objective function is cheap.


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This work is supported under SOCIAM: The Theory and Practice of Social Machines, a programme funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under grant number EP/J017728/1, and a collaboration between the Universities of Edinburgh, Oxford, and Southampton.

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Correspondence to Dave Murray-Rust .

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Murray-Rust, D., von Jungenfeld, R. (2015). Lichtsuchende: Exploring the Emergence of a Cybernetic Society. In: Johnson, C., Carballal, A., Correia, J. (eds) Evolutionary and Biologically Inspired Music, Sound, Art and Design. EvoMUSART 2015. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 9027. Springer, Cham.

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