SPAXELS (space elements)[1]

The term “Spaxels” is derived from the word pixel. On one hand, it evokes the term’s origins; on the other hand, it brings out a fundamental difference. Each medium has a specific language, a form of expression particular to this medium.

“The medium is the message” is thus both a programmatic statement of the Spaxels Research Initiative as well as a challenge that it is facing in a variety of ways. For one thing, its mission is to discover and develop the language of the Spaxels; another task high on its agenda is the development of the infrastructure of the swarm medium. The swarm is a pattern of thinking and acting that will pervade society in the future, and, as such, opens up new potential that the Spaxels Research Initiative will increasingly focus on.

Knowledge about swarms of robotic vehicles (autonomous vehicles or drones) is considerably less than knowledge about the vehicles themselves. With increasing concentration on the design of the robotics, one loses sight of consequences, which are recognizable only in the interplay of robots in the swarm.

Achieving this calls for, above all, enabling the possibilities of robot swarms to become a reality. A direct confrontation with “the swarm” is what it takes to make it clear what the future will bring, and what social changes we will have to adjust to.

In its development of tools, the Ars Electronica Futurelab puts theoretical understanding into practice, and subjects this “reified future” to various ways of considering it. In going about this, the Spaxels are only one possibility of getting the general public involved in the discourse. After all, this is a matter of an ongoing process of development in this field, and of subjecting it to consideration and assessment along ethical criteria.

However, precisely these ethical criteria can and should be established pursuant to a broad social consensus. The Spaxels Research Initiative’s mission is to make the necessary experience and information available to the general public now.

[1] The term Spaxels is derived from the word pixels (picture elements). It describes the space constitutive function of these flying, visual, space elements.