What’s new, and side gigs.

I haven’t updated this blog in forever and I really think I should be using it. Though I think now it is going to be more focused on dumping my own ideas to a screen, rather than writing for anyone else to consume. With that being said, I won’t work hard to edit what I am writing I will just write it. There might be errors, there might be undocumented details but at least there will be something!

I have been working on some side projects while I work my day job and spend time with my family (so many kids)! I realized I don’t really write any of the things I am doing down, so I think it’s time to start sharing things I am doing.

While these articles will be available for everyone to read they really are for me so I can recreate things I have done, or be slightly consistent. Maybe they will be useful to someone else as well.

A quantum understanding

It has been a while since I posted an actual article. I feel this innovation is something that a twitter post really couldn’t do justice to. Scientists at Princeton have made a dramatic leap forward in materials simulation. Traditionally when simulating materials on super computers programs must calculate the energy of an atom from scratch to determine the properties of a substance. The scratch calculation is complex and when you scale this across hundreds or thousands of atoms simulations are extremely intensive.

Enter the new formula based solution from Carter and Chen. This solution avoids having to calculate the energy of each electron in a material and instead accurately predicts the kinetic energy of electrons across the entire substance. This takes the most complex repetitive portion out of the simulation and allows it to scale to macroscopic samples of a substance.

So what does this really mean? Well, this will allow them to accurately and easily simulate how new theoretical transistor designs will work. So instead of having to actually make a new transistor from new materials and experiment to see if it performs the way you want, you can just simulate it. It can work for many other materials too, not just computer parts. What this is really letting scientists do is bring quantum properties into the realm of real simulation. This can probably help with fluid dynamics calculations, increasing the accuracy of fusion reactor simulations just as another example.

Heading toward the future, this can allow us to accurately predict how nanotech machines will function. It could even be applied to cells, helping us understand at a quantum level how human cells function. At the rate computer power scales up, efficiencies like this result in massive leaps in simulation capability. Bringing this research together with other fields like full brain simulation may result in some staggering advances.

The inevitable forward march of the machines.

Many scientists agree, general AI is coming. Self aware machines capable of understanding both the world around them and themselves. Will we be overtaken by these machines?

“When we started thinking for you, it really became our civilization.” Agent Smith – The Matrix.

Both robotic scientists and Battlestar Galactica members agree that the AI is coming. While this article serves as some hype for the new Battlestar Galactica TV movie “The Plan” it also discusses some very interesting contemporary AI research along with cybernetics. While we may be overtaken by the machines we may also be able to keep up with them if we follow them in our natural evolution. Replace your brain with cyber enhanced nano-neruons? It won’t be impossible forever.

People are already experimenting with cybernetics, at a simple level but everything has to start somewhere.

Then there is the idea of self aware machines. What does self aware really mean? I won’t go into that topic too deeply the wikipedia article for self awareness is a good start. The robots shown in the following video are becoming self aware, however only in the crudest sense. If we consider all the pieces coming together though, self awareness of body as well as self assembly of knowledge like in my post Game Changer we start to see that the technology is moving towards a general AI from many directions.

Ignoring the Battlestar Galactica hype in the article, it did bring up some interesting points, and gave us a glimpse of how mainstream this technology is becoming. Did I mention… I welcome our new robot overlords?

Adrift in the silence, but now a melody from the void

Over the last week or so I haven’t seen many breakthrough bits of research that I wanted to share with Automatons Adrift. I have been reading the papers from AIIDE 2008 and some of them have been very interesting. I will share a synopsis of some of the cool ideas shared at that conference in a later post.

Now there has been a song from the void. The automatons are singing, or at least trying to sing. A UK researcher has been experimenting with autonomous agents that communicate through singing and work together to improvise a song or melody. The robots currently attempt to mimic eachothers sounds and it has been scaled up to twenty robots. Further research in this field can be applied to group communication and organized planning.

This is the type of research that can be applied to swarm intelligence, smart dust, and many other distributed systems that required communication and innovation.