He even makes his own “Soap bubble” computer from people who claim that soap bubbles can be used for global parallel optimization problems. Spoiler, it doesn’t work well and gets stuck in local optima as the size gets larger.
Before anyone gets too excited about physical computing ideas, I think watching these 3 lectures from prestigious “Paul Barney’s lectures” is a must. They're about Quantum computing but Scott spends a full lecture about Turing/Extended-Turing thesis and what types of computers in past have tried to break those conjectures (and failed). That is why Quantum computing is interesting - he also dispells a lot of myths about QC we hear today in popular media. Fascinating stuff and I highly recommend spending 3 hours to watch these videos if you're interested in the future of computing.
I wonder if there are similar ideas with complex electric fields to model equation and enjoy "RT" (sampling speed time) evaluation of solutions.
Oh god I love the _idea_ of better computing. But let's be honest, there isn't much of an alternative, is there?
I mean, it'd be nicer to accomplish it, but if you can find something that you could spend fifty years failing at, that on your deathbed you would simply be happy you tried, that's something really special.
A bunch of molecular recipes encoded in a few gigs of nucleotides with some crude feedback loops do not a human make.
Quite apart from epigenetics as it’s commonly presented (methylation, and all sorts of histone antics), you might recall that DNA itself doesn’t magically grow up: you do need a cell.
It’s somewhat (and only poorly) analogous to being handed the source code to a C compiler written in C, without knowing C. Does the C code really encode C? Well, not without the compiler it doesn’t....
There’s then a very interesting discussion around how it’s even possible for a mammalian nervous system to bootstrap itself. Figuring out walking seems perhaps emergent: it’s a learnable technique based on not falling. But how do dog breeds retain intrinsic high-level behaviours even if they’ve never observed them? What makes a Shepherd so concerned when his assumed flock becomes dispersed?
We are a tremendously long way from answering these questions, but I would caution anyone who thinks it just “in the DNA”.
I was going to say that "No, it means a computer made from DNA can make another computer from DNA that can compute the square root of 900, but I'm the father of the two year old that will, presumably at some point, be able to calculate it as well. It'll just take somewhere around 10 years(?). I guess the achievement is how quickly it can calculate it, from creation.
Pretty sure most people can't do this. Even if we mean most people in a country where everyone graduates high school.
and a guy on YouTube trying to do it (not working yet):
Sure there are some superficial elements that do, but that means ignoring all the most important parts.
Edit: maybe a couple layers?
Anyone knowledgable care to speculate? I would find that interesting to read
> DNA = Verilog
reminded me of this paper: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6281/aac7341
They made a tool called Cello that uses Verilog to design genetic circuits with simple logic gates and stuff like that.
Here is the state of the art: Look at how wasteful it is.
And that's what I was speaking to up thread. Totally wasteful.
One (or more) layers up, we are not doing any computation via DNA. Maybe configuration and specification are better words for whatever does computation or some other task.
Imagine a sub-system. Maybe it's new sensory input, or some inherent comms interface or other we don't have as part of our nature right now.
If we think of DNA as some kind of Verilog, then:
Say I have a computer expressed in Verilog. I can push that to a chip, and that chip becomes that computer. Later, I want some additional computation capability, or I/O system, display, whatever. Just change the Verilog, and next push, that computer, being the same one a generation prior, now has this new thing.
So, we've got "human" expressed as DNA. Rather than compute with the actual DNA, expressing something that can compute is what I am getting at and in only the most general of ways.
The DNA basically makes an organism, or some functional bio-tech that is capable of computation, carrying electrical charge, do things we know biological systems can do. They have different strengths from electromechanical systems.
Our own brains are kind of slow, imprecise, but look at what they can do! What if a "coprocessor" of sorts could be woven in there? Or, maybe just an interface, form of comms that is not like the senses we have now.
Or maybe we leave ourselves alone. (good call, if you ask me), but we end up making living things, task based, maybe not even fully functional beings (probably also good call), that can interact with our existing systems.
Living neural nets for more advanced pattern recognition or memory recall, for example? Visualization?
That's where the real action / change is, IMHO.
And when I asked for speculation, I was kind of hoping people with this interest, or domain expertise might just riff on what such an idea may evoke in their thoughts, impressions, visions of what could come.
These kind of DNA computers had a lot of hype a few years ago, but for the real applications they are too low and difficult to retarget.