Darpa’s latest venture, called “Physical Intelligence” (PI) is to prove, mathematically, that the human mind is nothing more than parts and energy. In other words, all brain activities — reasoning, emoting, processing sights and smells — derive from physical mechanisms at work, acting according to the principles of “thermodynamics in open systems.” Thermodynamics is founded on the conversion of energy into work and heat within a system (which could be anything from a test-tube solution to a planet). The processes can be summed up in formalized equations and laws, which are then used to describe how systems react to changes in their surroundings.
The military wants a new equation: one that explains the human mind as a thermodynamic system. Once that’s done, they’re asking for “abiotic, self-organizing electronic and chemical systems” that display the PI principles. More than just computers that think, Darpa wants to re-envision how thought works — and then design computers whose thought processes are governed by the same laws as our own.
The Physical Intelligence program aspires to understand intelligence as a physical phenomenon and to make the first demonstration of the principle in electronic and chemical systems. A central tenet is that intelligence spontaneously evolves as a consequence of thermodynamics in open systems. The program plan is organized around three interrelated task areas: (1) creating a theory (a mathematical formalism) and validating it in natural and engineered systems; (2) building the first human-engineered systems that display physical intelligence in the form of abiotic, self-organizing electronic and chemical systems; and (3) developing analytical tools to support the design and understanding of physically intelligent systems. If successful, the program would launch a revolution of understanding across many fields of human endeavor, demonstrate the first intelligence engineered from first principles, create new classes of electronic, computational, and chemical systems, and create tools to engineer intelligent systems that match the problem/environment in which they will exist. Concepts relevant to the objectives of the Physical Intelligence program can be found in numerous disciplines and areas of research including statistical physics, non-equilibrium thermodynamics, dissipative systems, group theory, collective behavior, complexity theory, consciousness theory, non-linear dynamical systems, complex adaptive systems, systems analysis, multi-scale modeling, control systems, information theory, computation theory, topology, electronics, evolutionary computation, cellular automata, artificial life, origin of life, microbiology, evolutionary biology, evolutionary chemistry, neuropsychology, neurophysiology, brain modeling, organizational behavior, operations research and others.
There will be meetings in June in Reston, VA and in San Jose, CA
East Coast Workshop
Time: June 9, 2009, 7:00am-5:00pm
Location: Hyatt Regency Reston
1800 Presidents Street
Reston, VA 20190
Registration website: www.sa-meetings.com/PIEast
(Password = pieast).
West Coast Workshop
Time: June 11, 2009, 7:00am-5:00pm
Location: Hayes Mansion
200 Edenvale Avenue
San Jose, CA 95136
Registration website: www.sa-meetings.com/PIWest
(Password = piwest).
There is no fee for the PI Proposers’ Day Workshops. Registration for each workshop is limited (maximum 100 people; 2 persons per organization) by the venue capacity and early registration is strongly recommended. The Poster Session will be limited to 1 poster per organization with a cut-off of 40 posters total.
There is an online website where project members can interact. The main part of the access to the online interaction requires registration.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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