Re: COMP: Smart paint talk at Caltech

From: Patrick Wilken (
Date: Wed Jan 02 2002 - 18:15:10 MST

Woops. I should have mentioned that the talk was held at Caltech...

best, patrick

>Those of you in the LA area might be interested in the following talk:
>CS Seminar:
>Tuesday, JAN 8th
>4:00 - 5:00pm
>Baxter Lecture Hall
>Reception at 3:45pm
> Amorphous Computing
> Gerald Jay Sussman
>Digital computers have always been constructed to behave as precise
>arrangements of reliable parts, and our techniques for organizing
>computations depend upon this precision and reliability. Two emerging
>technologies, however, are begnning to undercut these assumptions
>about constructing and programming computers. These technologies --
>microfabrication and bioengineering -- will make it possible to
>assemble systems composed of myriad information-processing units at
>almost no cost, provided: 1) that not all the units need to work
>correctly; and 2) that there is no need to manufacture precise
>geometrical arrangements or interconnection patterns among them.
>Microelectronic mechanical components are becoming so inexpensive to
>manufacture that we can anticipate combining logic circuits,
>microsensors, actuators, and communications devices integrated on the
>same chip to produce particles that could be mixed with bulk
>materials, such as paints, gels, and concrete. Imagine coating
>bridges or buildings with smart paint that can sense and report on
>traffic and wind loads and monitor structural integrity of the bridge.
>A smart paint coating on a wall could sense vibrations, monitor the
>premises for intruders, or cancel noise. Even more striking, there
>has been such astounding progress in understanding the biochemical
>mechanisms in individual cells, that it appears we'll be able to
>harness these mechanisms to construct digital-logic circuits. Imagine
>a discipline of cellular engineering that could tailor-make biological
>cells that function as sensors and actuators, as programmable delivery
>vehicles for pharmaceuticals, as chemical factories for the assembly
>of nanoscale structures. Fabricating such systems seem to be within
>our reach, even if it is not yet within our grasp
>Fabrication, however, is only part of the story. We can envision
>producing vast quantities of individual computing elements, whether
>microfabricated particles, engineered cells, or macromolecular
>computing agents constructed by engineered cells, but we have few
>ideas for programming them effectively:
> How can one engineer prespecified, coherent behavior
> from the cooperation of immense numbers of unreliable
> parts that are interconnected in unknown, irregular,
> and time-varying ways?
>This is the challenge of Amorphous Computing.
>Host: Alain Martin

Patrick Wilken  
Postdoctoral Fellow in Biology, Caltech
Editor:        PSYCHE: An International Journal of Research on Consciousness
Board Member:      The Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness           

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