Digital Roundworms and the Approaching Singularity
Computer scientists and artificial intelligence experts say that a project to create digital roundworms represents an essential stepping stone toward the fusion of life and non-life.
What's the Latest Development?
Computer scientists and artificial intelligence experts say that a project to create digital roundworms represents an essential stepping stone toward the fusion of life and non-life. The project, called OpenWorm, is an opensource effort to elucidate the principles of life through a computer program. "If you're going to understand a nervous system or, more humbly, how a neural circuit works, you can look at it and stick electrodes in it and find out what kind of receptor or transmitter it has," said John White, who built the first map of the roundworm's neural anatomy.
What's the Big Idea?
If attempts to imitate life using computer technology are to be successful, scientists must translate biological movements, such as the turning of a roundworm's head, into a matrix of neurons firing in the brain. "More broadly, OpenWorm raises fascinating questions about what we mean when we say something is alive. If and when this project succeeds in modeling the worm successfully, we'll be faced with a new and fascinating concept to think with: a virtual organism. Imagine downloading the worm and running it in a virtual petri dish on your computer. What, exactly, will you be looking at? Will you consider it to be alive?"
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
Are university safe spaces killing intellectual growth?
Our experience of time may be blinding us to its true nature, say scientists.
- Time may not be passing at all, says the Block Universe Theory.
- Time travel may be possible.
- Your perception of time is likely relative to you and limited.
From questionable shipwrecks to outright attacks, they clearly don't want to be bothered.
- Many have tried to contact the Sentinelese, to write about them, or otherwise.
- But the inhabitants of the 23 square mile island in the Bay of Bengal don't want anything to do with the outside world.
- Their numbers are unknown, but either 40 or 500 remain.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.