“Cybernetic form of life-plant in direct dialogue with a machine” characterize “Elowan” its creators, in the “MIT Media Lab”. It is a cyborg plant, which, using its own internal electrical signals, interacts with a robotic extension that moves it towards the light.
Plants are electrically active systems, as induced electrochemically and there are traffic signals between tissues and organs. These signals are produced in response to changes in light, gravity, mechanical stimulation, temperature, injuries and other environmental conditions.
Continuing evolutionary processes change the characteristics of an organism based on its adaptation to its environment: People have made ‘domestic’ some plants, choosing species with desirable characteristics. Some have become houseplants, while others have been used in agriculture. Therefore, the environments of these plants (both their “natural” and artificial) have changed significantly.
As people, we rely on technology to facilitate our adaptation to the environment. However, the acceleration of technology development can not always be human-centered; and “Elowan” is an attempt to see how such a “reinforcement” of nature could be.
Its robotic base is a new type of symbiotic relationship, with motion being determined by the bio-electrochemical signals of the plant; the “language” that allows communication between the artificial and the natural. This, in turn, causes changes, such as how big the plant grows, how much it breathes, how much it absorbs moisture, etc. In the context of this task, electrodes have been inserted into points of interest so that the signals are amplified and sent to the robot so as to give instructions for moving the plant to the desired directions.
As the creators of “Elowan” argue, this symbiotic interaction could be further extended, with exogenous extensions that have role in nutrition, development frameworks and defense mechanisms of the plant.