Avogadro Scale Computing : digging into Gernshenfeld’s Presentation from the Singularity Summit

One of the major highlights of the Oct 25, 2008 Singularity summit was the presentation by Neil Gershenfeld, Director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms

One of the other highlights was on human brain emulation, which I have researched further here. The article below is on the work at MIT and other places for massively improved computers and computers elements that enable programmable matter.

The powerpoint that Gershenfeld used at the Singularity Summit was mostly the same as the one he used at the 2008 Avogadro-Scale Computing conference

The presentations made at the April Avagadro Scale Computing conference were the ones where Conformal Computing, Asynchronous and Analog Logic Automata, Fab-in-a-Box: Direct-Write Nanocircuits, and Scale-Free Architectures: Programming the Cloud-in-a-Can are presented in some of the best detail of any online sources.

Avagadro’s number is 6 X 10**23 [6 billion trillion, 600 zetta-elements; 600 thousand exa-elements, 600 million peta-elements], which is the number of carbon 12 atoms in 12 grams of carbon 12.

Gershenfeld indicated that he is working towards a new paradigm where physical science is equal to computer science [programmable matter].

-low-level language: cellular microcode
programs represent physical resources

-high-level language: mathematical programming
equivalence of local and global dynamics

-operating system: coded construction
assembly of spatial computing structures

Conformal Computing


Rafe Furst has a quick rundown on the Singularity Summit. Here is his comment on Neil Gershenfeld.

The most mind blowing presentation was by Neil Gershenfeld. I already thought the Fab Lab was pretty cool. But the long term stuff he’s working on is breathtaking. There’s a duality between computing and physics. For example, we use physics to build computers that we then use to model physics. The duality is much more fundamental than that (e.g., the equivalence of thermodynamic entropy and Shannon entropy). They have discovered/created a programming paradigm called asynchronous logic automata (ALA: so new there’s not a good reference on the Web; see also Conformal Computing: no good references on that either) that he says is based on fundamental phsycial properties. They can use ALA to PROGRAM MATTER. Such matter is made of identical cells that assemble themselves like proteins, based on the ALA instructions. He had some animations and it’s unclear from my notes whether these were merely simulations or visualizations of something they’d actually built. My memory is that they were actual, but at a large scale. Neil said they should be able to get exponential scaling and they don’t really rely on quantum effects. The bottom line was: 20 years to the Star Trek replicator. This is the number one thing on my list to keep track of now.

David Wood also has a summary of the Singularity Summit

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