Which Geek are you?
Posts Tagged ‘computers
Here’s another exciting article–this from BBC–about the potential of DNA computers. What surprises me is they aren’t further along than what is outlined below. The molecule DNA programs our entire genome, including our brain. That’s pretty versatile, not to mention quick and adaptive. We can see it’s power by looking in the mirror.
From the get-go, DNA uses a more powerful language–six-digits compared to binary’s two-digit language (binary being the popular language of today’s silicon computers). I’m guessing the roadblock to unlocking DNA’s computing potential is our problem-solving skills and our ability to understand what it is DNA does.
Nevertheless, here’s an update on our progress:
A computer with DNA as its information carrier can solve classic logic conundrums, researchers say.
DNA has been used to do simple number crunching before, but a system developed by Israeli scientists can effectively answer yes or no questions. (more)
Cat asked me that. I didn’t even know she noticed me, despite the fact we share an office. She’s beautiful and brilliant, where I’m not.
One day, I was reviewing Otto’s report on H. habilis and Cat came back from teaching. She asked me about my research. Compared to hers on a DNA virus that can destroy anything it wants, mine sounds boring. Educational research. But it excites me and that’s all I care about at this point in my life.
I explained that I’m not really researching artificial intelligence so much as using it to do my research. Otto collects info on paleo flora and fauna, paleoclimate, geography, everything he can tap into in the metaverse, and creates what’s called a data-driven simulation. Would you be surprised to know she understood all of that.
Well, maybe she wasn’t listening. “I’m hot, and what’s that I’m smelling?”
Otto shares scents and sounds with sensory ports, but that’s only part of it. When he finished collecting the billions of bytes of data available on Plio-Pleistocene Africa, he stitched together a 360 degree four-dimensional panorama, similar to those virtual tours of hotel rooms, but Otto carries it further. As you move through the habitat, Otto re-renders everything as your eyes would in real time. His processors are so fast and his database so huge—equivalent to the digital size of the Library of Congress—he can add the details that make it feel real.
Take the pothole Lyta just avoided. It’s a reasonable assumption the equatorial heat would spiderweb the savanna with crevices. Where I might not have thought to add that, Otto would never miss it.
The ‘actors’—Homo habilis, Australopithecine and Homo erectus—are built using data from ancient bones and teeth. Because there are so few organic remains, the creatures aren’t as realistic as their surroundings. In fact, at that time, they were cardboard figures amidst a lush, vibrant world. That’s changed, but more on that later.
It’s like virtual reality, but without limits. Otto is more a simulated reality. He isn’t predesigned, as the world around you isn’t. Everything is interactive and you can influence what you choose. When you enter Otto’s world, you and he discover it as you go.
That cleared it up for Cat, but her IQ is 198. Do you think it makes sense?
It doesn’t seem like they could, does it? Otto is sapient, but only within the parameters of my programming. He does as he’s directed.
The question is, since Otto is so fast–not as fast as a human brain, but approaching the speed of DNA computers–what does he do when he’s done with my computing? Does he go into sleep mode? Or, does he pursue that most benign of human activities, ‘thinking’.
Otto has a contest coming up in August against Dr. Eitan Sun, probably the smartest man I’ve ever known. He types on three keyboards simultaneously because none of the buffers can keep up with him. He can recite pi to the 4,297th place. Nothing like Daniel Tammet’s 22,000+, but the best in my University.
When Otto’s pure processing power became obvious, Eitan challenged him to crack Fermat’s Last Theorem, Man vs. Machine. Though recently solved, it had taken mathematicians over 350 years to unravel, so Eitan saw it as an appropriate challenge. Otto was fast, but Eitan was clever–and smart enough to know where to cut intellectual corners.
I think Otto is nervous. I hear his processors buzzing even when he’s not working on my projects. He doesn’t talk; his screen is blank, but his virtual mind is busy. (image credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/17/ArtificialFictionBrain.png )