Future Teams: Exploring Human and Non-Human Collaboration in the Workplace of the Future

The Future Teams project explores teamwork in the future. Launched in 2022, it aims to create technology for workplaces where humans and non-humans collaborate. This reflects the growing impact of technology on work worldwide. Ars Electronica Futurelab prioritizes humans in its research, even with advancements in AI and robotics.  This focus sets the Future Teams project apart.  It envisions teams with diverse non-human members, including robots and even microorganisms! The project’s „Future Buddy“ platform showcases how non-human modules can be work partners. This, along with the rise of AI-artist collaborations, highlights the role of art in exploring non-human teamwork.  As AI becomes more common, the Future Teams project offers a glimpse of a future where humans and non-humans work together seamlessly.

The Future Teams research project, initiated in 2022 as a joint effort between Ricoh, Art and Program, and Ars Electronica Futurelab, aims to foster the development of human and non-human augmentation for workplaces of the future. The project seeks to develop innovative technologies for such workplaces that would augment team creativity, attention, and interaction.

The accommodation of new technologies, which seem to seamlessly transform the nature of work across countries, is already a natural phenomenon in today’s world. The fundamental question might be: How can we stimulate creativity, promote collaboration, and cultivate exceptional teams in this new era?

Solutions to this question could include a radical step of incorporating non-human actors into team interaction, including various organisms such as microorganisms and plants, advanced technologies such as robots and AI, and even the environment of our planet.

Concept Future Teams by Nicolas Naveau,

Source: https://ars.electronica.art/futurelab/en/projects-future-teams

Ars Electronica Futurelab: A Hub for Innovation and Human-Centered Design

One of Ars Electronica’s main divisions involved in the introduction of new technologies is Ars Electronica Futurelab, which also serves as a space for the production and realization of ideas. Ars Electronica Futurelab can be defined as a studio for future systems, emphasizing that Ars Electronica fundamentally places humans at the center of research and considers the social aspects of technological development such as AI, robotics, media architecture, interactive technologies, or new aesthetics and their impact on the future.The year 2023 was marked by a surge in AI innovation, not only for this division.

The Future Teams Project: A Vision of Human-Non-Human Collaboration

Artificial intelligence, neurobionics, genetic engineering, biotechnology, and global changes have become increasingly urgent for years, as the exhibition Compass reloaded! also reminds us. Despite the outstanding qualities and the aforementioned topics at Ars Electronica 2023, the Future Teams project dominates my selection. The main reason is the possibility of realizing a future in which different beings, not only humans but also non-humans, work together as a team.

The Future Buddy platform brings to life non-human Buddy modules that serve as upper modules (brain) and can also be combined with lower modules (body) for communication purposes. Upon connection to the module, they become our companions for collaboration in the physical workplace and offer endless possibilities for Future Buddy beyond conventional robots.

The Role of Artistic Research in Non-Human Collaboration

I also see the presence of artistic research in the design of new non-human collaboration possibilities in the perspective of asking questions about the implantation of different types of artificial consciousness. The vision of non-human partnership in the upcoming social changes, which will undoubtedly be accompanied by the implementation of AI technologies, is already urgent today.

In the field of AIART, the development of a certain kind of partnership relationship between artists and AI systems is becoming increasingly detectable. For example, projects such as Circuit Training (2018) by Maria Klingemann or Unsupervised(2022) by Refik Anadol exhibit a certain element of autonomy with the possibility of carrying out processes from a partnership position.


The Future Teams project offers a compelling vision of the future of work, where humans and non-humans collaborate seamlessly to achieve shared goals. The project’s emphasis on human-centered design and the incorporation of artistic research ensures that these technologies are developed in a responsible and ethical manner.

Open Futurelab – Ars Electronica Festival 2023, foto: Bettina Gangl,

Source: https://ars.electronica.art/futurelab/en/projects-future-teams

Author: Tomáš Marušiak, 2024


1 [Online]. .: <https://ars.electronica.art/futurelab/en/projects-future-teams/>.