Various manifestations of Artificial Intelligence and Cybernetic theories have infiltrated art and design since the 1950s. Early experiments included physical explorations of autonomous structures with dynamic sensing/actuating components (Nicola Schöffer 1954); proposals for spatial indeterminacy and user interactivity towards new social and political freedoms (Cedric Price with Gordon Pask 1961); as well as investigations into sensory expansion and renewed experience (E.A.T 1967). Today AI’s saturation is pervasive, advanced computational tools direct processes and offer prototyping platforms that rely on AI’s early development of object oriented programming (Alan Kay 1966). With Ubiquitous Computing (Mark Weiser 1988) physical objects are themselves acquiring synthetic sentience bringing the concept of situated or embodied AI and cognition from robotics (Rodney Brooks 1989) to everyday objects that explore responsiveness and autopoesis (Mette Ramsgard Thomsen 2007); and with the more recent Internet of Things, the social capacity of objects is being extended into global communication webs and data correlation. This convergence on objects, their increasing intelligence and augmented agency have also exposed overlaps with philosophy and the renewed interest in materialism (Object Oriented Philosophy…) which is expanding the notion of objects (living and non-living) as complex dynamic entities within the context of ecological thinking and posthuman theory.
What is artificial object intelligence in design? What are its aesthetic, social, psychological, and technical potentials? And what are its philosophical implications — is it an empathetic shift towards non-human perspectives or a far more subtle but all the more effective form of anthropomorphism and control? In the spirit of this interdisciplinary forum and its critical topic, this issue invites contributions from architects, artists, scientists, theorists, object oriented thinkers, and their critics. We seek to track histories, share methodologies, expose aims, and challenge goals through projects and papers that illuminate or speculate on object agency with its implications on thought and design.