Children’s Peace Machines run on plastic waste and resolve conflicts
The Oulu2026 Project Team is inviting primary school pupils to create ideas and work on the Peace Machine of the future. We paid a visit to the year 4 pupils of Teuvo Pakkala school to see and learn more about the prototypes of the machines they have developed to resolve conflicts, promote peace and understand diversity.
Timo Honkela (1962–2020) was a Finnish AI researcher whose life’s work forms the basis for the Peace Machine, a concept for promoting world peace and understanding between people. The Peace Machine is operated on AI, machine vision and new technology applications with the aim of clarifying misunderstandings and reducing conflicts and the role of strong emotional reactions in decision-making. The Peace Machine learns and develops in interaction with its users, making the human contributors co-creators of the machine.
Children’s prototypes highlighted ecology
The year 4 pupils of Teuvo Pakkala school participated in the development of the prototypes with their teacher Maria Viitasaari. The pupils were given a free hand to design the machine: how it would operate, what it is powered by and how it could promote peace between people. Over a few weeks, eight different prototypes were created.
According to Viitasaari, the most surprising aspect in the children’s work were the prominence of ecology and the importance of recycling. Many of the Peace Machines ran on waste, solar power or recycled plastic. The prototypes took on many shapes and forms: The Peace Machine could be an industrial facility, a robot, the globe, a forest or an application whose main tasks were to prevent wars, help disadvantaged people, resolve conflicts and help people calm down.
Swipe the prototype gallery:
“The Peace Machine spreads the message of peace around the world by resolving conflicts and helping the poor. The Peace Machine flies to wherever it hears there are conflicts. The Peace Machine is charged during the night and during the day it runs on energy it derives from positive words people say. The Peace Machine can sing and generate energy from waste.” says Pieta Kuha, a year 4 pupil.
The Peace Machine designed by Elias Heikkinen runs on a separate Peace application, and the machine can be dispatched to different locations to help people. “The Peace Machine is powered by plastic and flower petals. The Peace Machine can hear you and give you advice so that you can avoid accidents and other bad things,” the user manual informs us.
Adelma Leskelä’s Peace Machine is the size of a human being, and it can’t be destroyed by evil acts. “You can say bad things to my Peace Machine. And even if you have done something wrong, it can help you.”
“The Peace Machine is required whenever we need to avoid serious fights. If the Peace Machine detects a minor argument, it flashes a yellow light. If the fight turn serious and dangerous, it flashes a red light and sounds an alarm, like a fire engine. If the people arguing don’t listen, the Peace Machine will go to each person in turn and give them ideas on to how to stop the fight,” Selma Linnanmäki writes.
The children’s work is based on the STEAM philosophy (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), in which conflict resolution is approached from the perspectives of science, art and technology. Between 2021 and 2026, the Oulu2026 Project Team will invite more schools and nurseries to participate in the Peace Machine project. The children’s designs will be presented to Ekho Collective, which is in charge of the artistic direction of the Peace Machine project.
“The idea behind the project is to encourage pupils to improve their empathy and communication skills and to accept diversity. We have sent the Peace Machine cooperation request to all municipalities and cities within the Oulu 2026 region as a pilot scheme, and the goal is eventually to share the project wtih other European capitals of culture and schools. The more users the Peace Machine has, the more effective it will be,” says Piia Rantala-Korhonen, CEO of Oulu2026 Project Team.
The primary school pupils in the Oulu region and the neighbouring municipalities can participate in the Peace Machine project by contacting Heli Metsäpelto, Head of Community, Oulu2026 Project Team.
The Peace Machine work unveiled in 2026
The Peace Machine is the main work of art for Oulu2026, and it will combine art and technology into an aesthetic experience. The interactive nature of the work is based on the use of AI, machine learning and machine vision. Designed by Ekho Collective, the Peace Machine will have a modular structure and it can be used virtually at different locations at the same time.
The work will be unveiled in 2026 in Oulu and in the Slovakian capital of culture. In 2027, the Peace Machine will continue touring in the capitals of culture in Portugal and Latvia.