Saturday, November 27, 2004

The Rise of Computing Intelligence

The Computer will soon be smarter than the brightest minds who build them.

Since 1965, the computer chip, embedded with intelligence, has doubled in power roughly every 2 years. As we slept to the implications of compounding intelligence, computers quickly evolved from calculators to communications devices and from word processors to global idea processors. Only short decades later, we awaken to an accelerating world, the heart of which now beats with this growing intelligence.

Computers double in cost effectiveness with each new generation, evolving exponentially because they can be enlisted in huge numbers to propogate their own next generation. Whatever they can do today, they'll do it twice as fast, efficiently, and detailed or half the size and cost tomorrow. One billion instructions per second becomes 2 billion, then 4 billion and so on.

Within our lifetime, $1000 will buy unlimited access to computational power equivalent to a human brain. And that computational power will continue to compound again and again with no end in sight.

The exponential growth of computational intelligence is what allows you to carry around (and afford) vastly more computing power than was used in the entire Apollo space program. The laptop tucked under the student's arm can contain a searchable library of electronic textbooks that would weigh several tons in hardcover.

The computer is driving the convergence between Nanotechnology, Biotechnology and the Cognitive Sciences and Itself. It's the reason knowledge in these fields is doubling roughly every year now, causing the rate of discovery to speed up in lockstep with the evolution of computing intelligence.

While we wrestle with the imminent implications of curing all diseases, a vastly extended "quality of life" span, a new world order of increasing complexity, awesome weapons being manufactured in basements, and personal computers with more computational power than our brains, computing will continue to accelerate in power until we are building them atom by atom.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Biotechnology: Reprogramming Evolution

We wear the same body and brains as Cro-Magnon humans did. The same people who rubbed sticks together for fire, driven by hunger to the hunt, worked with tools of bone and stone, bedding down in huts of skin and branches. But this 40,000 year old piece of soft clay is about to become it's own sculptor. This is not just a turning point in history. It's also the fulcrum upon which technology balances our very evolution..

For billions of years, evolution virtually restricted the transfer of DNA to members of the same species through sexual reproduction. But through Biotechnology, virtually any trait found in nature can be, in principle, wantonly transferred across species. That means you can take DNA from any organism, transfer it to another and new creatures emerge.

For Example:

- Sheep with human brains and other organs.
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- The glow from the firefly has been inserted into tobacco plants making them glow in the dark.
or Google Search
- A human embryo cloned using a cell from a man's leg and a cow's ovum lived and developed for twelve days until it was terminated.
or Google Search
- Goats bred with a spider gene produce milk which is processed to make "BioSteel".. The US military has set up their own goat farm to make bulletproof vests, aerospace and medical supplies.
or Google Search
- Extended Life Spans
or Google Search
As of January 2008, Human/Animal Hybrid Embryos have gone mainstream.

The Case for Human Evolution Through Technology

Through Human intervention over thousands of years, modern dogs from toy poodles, greyhounds, pit bulls, great danes - all of them - descended from wolves. With the decoding of the human genome, (and in a dramatically shorter time), a far richer variation of humans beings is equally as possible.

But Will We?

Will we, as a species begin to evolve ourselves on purpose? Tummy tucks, breast implants, competitive steroid drugs and gender selection foreshadow the pent up demand for personal selection over natural selection. Cro Magnon is poised to become stronger, faster, and smarter, with a vastly extended life span. Some WILL elect to become entirely new creatures.

DNA Computing

Evolution has harnessed DNA to reliably store the programming instructions for every known biological cell since the first. In 1994, Leonard Adleman proved that we too could use DNA to compute.

Because DNA can replicate itself, it can work on a problem as it replicates with each new strand crunching the numbers. Very quickly DNA can perform collosal computational feats. A DNA computer about this size could hold 10 terabytes of data more than enough to store everything you look at for a year and perform 10 trillion calculations at the same time. By comparison, the Human brain is capable of roughly 100 trillion calculations per second.

What's Next?

Evolutionary intelligence has brought forth human intelligence. The very brain assembled through evolutionary forces now seeks to create it's own rival. The computer will soon become smarter than it's maker. It's only a matter of time.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Your Inkjet Printer as a Replicator

In a jag of hardware hacking, the humble inkjet printer is transformed into a crude fabricator. Disgorging a growing array of computer parts, complete working gadgets and solar cells is so... yesterday. Read on. The innovative twists emerging from Inkjet technology will stun you.

(This is part of a developing story about the rise of personal desktop fabrication and replicators).

3D Printing has been around since the 90's producing physical models directly from a computer version. The computer model is divided into thousands of extremely thin slices. Each slice is then printed out one on top of the other, normally in polymer. Large and very expensive.

However the technology which enables Inkjet printers to form images and text on paper can also be adapted to 3d modeling. Instead of ink, ANY material that can be powderized, (meaning practically everything) can be used.

Here are some examples of various materials including ceramics stainless steel, tungsten and tungsten carbide with complex internal structures as well as external and very rich textures

Complete Working Gadgets

Inkjet technology has also printed out entire working gadgets with the internal circuitry and the external housing as one fused whole. By printing layer upon layer of conducting and semiconducting polymers, the complete circuitry and housing are built in one go.

'Gadget printer' promises industrial revolution
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An example of how an electronic remote control will be printed out
Google Image Search "Gadget Printer"

Printing Electronic Circuits

Instead of drops of cyan, magenta and yellow ink, a uniquely charged drop of polymer becomes a nano pixel in a working printed electronic circuit. Working solar cells, lighting, even batteries have already emerged from the humble inkjet. A computer printing computer circuits simply from software instructions. That's only a stone's throw away from self replication.

Wearable Embedded Intelligence

Circuits can also be printed on cloth.
Original article
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And yet another genie has emerged from the bottle...

Researchers Hod Lipson and Jordan B. Pollack at Brandeis University have coupled inkjet technology and software to autonomously design and fabricate robots without human intervention.
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The software simulates a variety of rudimentary virtual robots. In an accelerated Darwinian contest of survival over hundreds of generations, the most successful robotic designs are then physically prototyped. Robots autonomously designing, testing and manufacturing robots.

Coming Soon From a Printer Near You

Hewlett-Packard is poised to "aggressively enter a range of new markets beyond printing, including television and computer displays, printed electronic circuits, automotive fuel-injection systems and even drug delivery for treatment of diseases like diabetes."
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In yet another "vein" inkjets are coughing up tissue.

Here's the very latest news on Rapid Prototyping technology

The Implications

The implications of 3d printing are perhaps more in the questions inspired than in what is produced.

What will be the effect of open source hardware? What happens when a desktop peripheral as economical as your printer manufactures custom computer circuitry, solar cells and batteries as cheap as wallpaper? Or when distributors ship a product as software, with the end user supplying the raw material. No distribution costs and instant delivery of a physical item. Or when autonomous robots fitted with accelerating computational intelligence design and manufacture their own next generation.