Third and last interview for this SWARM thematic. This one is of Roland Snooks from Kokkugia. Roland speaks about his research about multi-agent strategies in his studio and in the schools he is teaching (Columbia, Pratt, Sci-Arc, UPenn, RMIT…)

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 ?

Designing through complex systems, in particular through multi-agent design methodologies, does not represent a loss of control in the design process, however the nature of design and authorship changes. It is a shift from invention of form to the orchestration of processes. Within highly volatile algorithmic design processes topology and dimension are not directly controlled, however the formal and organisational characteristics, which are tied to the internal behavior of the algorithm are controlled through an iterative design process.

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

Swarm Intelligence involves the encoding of design intent at the local level through seeding agents with behaviors. It is the interaction of these behaviors that generates a collective intelligence and complex order. Consequently it shifts not only the operation of the design process, but also the design intent to the micro scale.

What are the political impacts of such a process ?

Agent based systems do not have any a priori political bias, however the distributed nature of the process offers the opportunity to use this design methodology in a more inclusive or democratic way. The interaction of a diverse set of individual desires are capable of self-organising into a coherent whole without homogenizing its constitutate parts.

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

It is not the interactive aspect of swarm algorithms that are the focus of Kokkugia’s projects or academic research. We are less interested in applying these algorithms for their real-time interactive possibility or for the simulation of reality. Instead we are intrigued by the possibilities these techniques offer for generating new situations and emergent order.