[ExI] DARPA seeking Genesis-style godware capability

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Tue Jun 23 20:40:41 UTC 2009

<<DARPA seeking Genesis-style godware capability

Self-organising Tetris AIs, smart-vat superlife on cards

By Lewis Page<http://forms.theregister.co.uk/mail_author/?story_url=/2009/06/23/darpa_physical_intelligence/>•
more from this author <http://search.theregister.co.uk/?author=Lewis%20Page>

Posted in Science <http://www.theregister.co.uk/science/>, 23rd June 2009
11:04 GMT

US military wacky-professor bureau DARPA has outdone itself this time,
issuing a request for "intelligent" electronic components and chemicals
which can "self-organise" themselves to form complex items such as routers,
fuel cells, biofuel factories or medical drugs. Indeed, reading between the
lines it appears as though the American killboffins are seeking nothing less
than the creation of artificial intelligent lifeforms.

The Pentagon crazytech chiefs' name for this initiative is "Physical
Intelligence", and full details were released last week. According to DARPA,
humanity at present has only a dim grasp of what intelligence actually is
and how it came into existence:

For the past 50 years, the dominant paradigm for intelligence supposes that
the brain is the seat of intelligence and is functionally equivalent to a
computer capable of executing any algorithm... the goal of true machine
intelligence remains distant... our understanding of the evolution of life
is rooted primarily in observations of the natural world... With some
exceptions, current approaches to understanding intelligence and evolution
are disconnected and often lack grounding in fundamental physical

 The idea behind "physical intelligence" seems to be to achieve a much
better, hard-science understanding of what intelligence and life actually is
and how it evolves as a matter of physics. Needless to say, this being
DARPA, this almost God-like intellectual toolkit is then to be put to use.

Although the idea that life is “a struggle for entropy” (Boltzmann) has been
supposed for more than a century... applications to engineered systems are
scarce. The Physical Intelligence program aspires to change this
situation... The objective is to demonstrate the first human-engineered open
thermodynamic systems that spontaneously evolve non-trivial “intelligent”

Specifically, bidders for DARPA Physical Intelligence cash will be invited
to design one of two things: electronic gizmos or "basic units that might be
described variously as 'gates' or 'cells' or 'neurons'", or alternatively
"an open chemical environment".

The electronic "units", which may initially exist only in a simulated
environment "comparable in complexity to simple video games (eg, Tetris)"
are expected to "self organise" and "evolve" into a complex configuration,
presumably one demonstrating some non-trivial aspects of intelligence. As a
starter for ten, the super Tetris-block electronic neurocells should be able
to spontaneously form into "a continuously self-organizing router for
internet traffic or similarly complex application". One should then be able
to "extract the algorithm, and map it to a conventional computer" -
effectively turning that computer into an intelligent lifeform.

As for the vatful of smart-chemicals, they're expected - without human
intervention - to be able to form themselves into drugs, organic fuel cells,
solar powered biofuel supercrops or "a similarly complex system".

It won't have escaped alert *Reg* readers that the Physical Intelligence
DARPA wonder-ware will be quite capable of becoming intelligent life -
potentially much more capable life than humanity itself. The AI algorithms
which evolve from the spontaneously self-organising Tetris blocks might far
outclass the human noggin: the fuel-celled, solar-powered, self-medicating
lifeforms which emerged from the smartware vats would be immeasurably our
superiors physically.

Quite frankly we can't help thinking that some more appropriate name might
have been in order here, like Project Genesis or LET LIGHT=ON or something.
It's definitely a return to full-on loopy form on DARPA's part, anyway.

Full details are available
doc). >>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20090623/f5fc8b0d/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list