The
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I work on developing an understanding of biological complexity and how we can create it, because the limits of software engineering have been clear now for two decades. The biggest programs anyone can build are about ten million lines of code. A real biological object — a creature, an ecosystem, a brain — is something with the same complexity as ten billion lines of code. And how do we get there?

SOFTWARE IS A CULTURAL SOLVENT:
How Our Artifacts Will Be Able To Interact With Our Biological Forms

A Talk with Jordan Pollack

Introduction

The New York Times, in a front page article on August 31st ("Scientists Report They Have Made Robot That Makes Its Own Robots" By Kenneth Chang) reported on the work of Jordan Pollack and his Brandeis University colleague Hod Lipson: "For the first time", The Times reported, "computer scientists have created a robot that designs and builds other robots, almost entirely without human help."

"I work on this question of self-organization, using evolution, neural networks, games, problem solving, and robotics," says Pollack. "And the way that we work on it is by trying to set up non-equilibrium chemical reactions in software which dissipate computer time ­ a form of energy — and create structure. Some of that structure we can actually make real in the form of robots, and although robots are much more exciting to cameras and the media than problem-solvers, games and language learning, our fundamental work is in trying to understand where complexity itself comes from, without a designer."

He sees "a merger of bio-informatics, biotechnology, and information processing. As we understand cellular processes, neural representations, and develop microelectronic and nanoscale technologies, our artifacts will be able to interact with our biological forms at a most fundamental level. Unfortunately, we really haven't fathomed the complexity of nature yet to know what to do with it."

— JB

JORDAN POLLACK, is a computer science and complex systems professor at Brandeis University. His laboratory's work on AI, Artificial Life, Neural Networks, Evolution, Dynamical Systems, Games, Robotics, Machine Learning, and Educational Technology has been reported on by the New York Times, Time, Science, NPR, Slashdot.org and many other media sources worldwide. Jordan is a prolific inventor, advises several startup companies and incubators, and in his spare time runs Thin Mail, an Internet based service designed to increase the usefulness of wireless email.

Click here for Jordan Pollack's Edge Bio Page


SOFTWARE IS A CULTURAL SOLVENT
A Talk with Jordan Pollack

 

 

JORDAN POLLACK: It's a marvelous age that we live in right now: The age right before convergence with mechanism, where ultimately we will be wearing our computers as part of our bodies. People are talking about internet, television and telephone convergence to personal wearable devices. But we are also within a century of the merger of bio-informatics, biotechnology, and information processing. As we understand cellular processes, neural representations, and develop microelectronic and nanoscale technologies, our artifacts will be able to interact with our biological forms at a most fundamental level. Unfortunately, we really haven't fathomed the complexity of nature yet to know what to do with it.

Continued.....


 

John Brockman, Editor and Publisher

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