AANN - Artificial Analog Neural Network
  • Title: AANN - Artificial Analog Neural Network
  • Speaker: Phil Stearns
  • Language: English
  • Keywords: neural networks and their application in AANN, the creative design process behind AANN, Networks and networked systems, mapping and ecology based world views

AANN is an interactive, handmade electronic sculpture that responds to environmental stimuli in a display of light and sound. Constructing the sculpture such that function and form are keenly interconnected borrows from the work of Peter Vogel. The electronics are designed to accurately mimic biological neural behavior and the form was influenced in part by multi-layer network models used in neural computing, and by the Fibonacci based branching of natural systems. AANN explores the concept of interactive electronics by making physical the abstract processes used by computer scientists in pattern recognition. The sculpture’s structure resembles that of wire frame models of objects such as space station modules, high-tech weaponry, molecular compounds, and complex symmetrical networks. Electronic components are soldered point-to-point to the next in such a way that the resulting network forms the sculpture's physical structure. Abrupt changes in light or sound causes the network to react by producing a series of swoops and chirps, and by illuminating LEDs on active neurons.

Questions which arose during the course of researching and developing the work branch from the debate about machine intelligence and its potential impacts on society and environment. What is interactivity? What are the preconditions necessary for such interactivity? Does intelligence play a role or is interactivity a generic feature of reality. What is it to think? Is it possible for a machine to think as we do? If it is not yet possible to understand what it is to think and how we humans do it, what is it that drives us to make machines think? Are we too lazy to think for ourselves? How much does structure factor into the functioning of a network – both biological and artificial? What are the implications of accepting a networked model of understanding? What is the total impact of technology on society and on the biosphere which supports it? Is it possible for a technological work to affect enough positive change to offset the potential social and environmental damage wrought in its history of development and application? Can technology exist without economies of scale, and if not, can those economies of scale be maintained in an ecologically sustainable manner?

STEIM Project Blog: http://steim.org/projectblog/?p=114

Video Links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCmvUguvaHM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2UstvAJZGE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBLPhNAni44