Endeavor, using the New Kind of Science (Stephen Wolfram) to build a kind of 'replicator' - The Creator Unit

Posted by ProjectC 

“The complex system approach, which involves “seeing” inter-connections and relationships, i.e., the whole picture as well as the component parts…”
-- D. Sornette.

“Coveney and Highfield define complexity as a new way of thinking about the behaviour of interacting units, be they atoms, ants in a colony, neurons firing in a human brain, or people in a society. Complexity reaches far beyond the concept of chaos and represents a profound shift awayfrom the reductive principle that has guided science for centuries..”
-- Frontiers of Complexity.

Complexity Science

The reductive principle that has guided science for centuries.. has limited our scientific thinking, especially after 1700, science became very narrow. But the path for this type of thinking started in Greek where:

"Ever since antiquity science has tended to see its main purpose as being the study of regularities--and this has meant that insofar as complexity is viewed as an absence of regularities, it has tended to be ignored or avoided. There have however been occasional discussions of various general aspects of complexity and what can account for them. Thus, for example, by 200 BC the Epicureans were discussing the idea that varied and complex forms in nature could be made up from arrangements of small numbers of types of elementary atoms in much the same way as varied and complex written texts are made up from small numbers of types of letters."

-- Stephen Wolfram, A New Kind of Science Complexity and science page 861.

We didn’t follow the path of the Epicureans. We followed the path of simple forms with the help of Euclid, a teacher [1]. And so the centuries weathered away, until time came to study complex forms with the help of computers. In 1984 there was a flimsy start of Complexity Science, but it wasn’t coherent. In 2002 an important contribution to this scientific field was made by Stephen Wolfram in the form of his book A New Kind of Science which was brought online in the year 2004 [2].

"In addition, the Principle of Computational Equivalence implies that all sorts of systems in nature and elsewhere will inevitably exhibit features that in the past have been considered unique to intelligence--and this has consequences for the mind-body problem, the question of free will, and recognition of other minds. It has often been thought that traditional logic--and to some extent mathematics--are somehow fundamentally special and provide in a sense unique foundations. But the Principle of Computational Equivalence implies that in fact there are a huge range of other formal systems, equivalent in their ultimate richness, but different in their details, and in the questions to which they naturally lead."

-- Stephen Wolfram, A New Kind of Science Philosophical implications page 1196.

Complexity Science in itself is a holistic science.


T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) writes in his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom that the Semites believed that we live inside 'God'. That 'God' is the environment which we live in, inhale, eat etc. That’s something that I found intriguing.

Replace the word God with ‘intelligence’. But not the kind of intelligence we humans may describe it, with being smart etc. No, not that but intelligence in the manner of computation (and maybe awareness?). Than intelligence is very subtle in all kind of forms, let it be ‘living’ organisms, or ‘dead’ rock. Of course it is very hard to say what is living or dead. In essence, you could say the whole Plasma Universe behaves like an organisms where new cells (like galaxies) are being created and destroyed.

Wolfram states in his book that the meaning of Principle of Computational Equivalence is that everything is some kind of computation. And math, he states, is thereby one of many formal systems of doing a computation because computations is everywhere (within rocks, computers, atoms etc.). With cellular automaton rule 110 we could utilize this kind of computation and thereby simulate almost everything, let it be a evolutionary process, a Turing computation or the pigments of the skin etc.

In the back of my mind I had always this idea of a machine which could create every kind of object (imagination would be the limit). But the computing power, tools and theory or principle (which kind of symbols do you use for manipulating the state of the machine) wasn’t within reach. Until 2002.

The Creator Unit

"... in fact extremely simple underlying rules - that might for example potentially be implemented directly at the level of atoms - are often all that is needed."

"And indeed one of the things that emerges from this book is that traditional engineering has actually considered only a tiny and quite unrepresentative fraction of all the kinds of systems and processes that are in principle possible."

"...it seems likely that a system could be set up in which just one or a few atoms would correspond to a cell in a system like a cellular automaton. And one thing this would mean is that doing computations would then translate almost directly into building actual physical structures out of atoms."

-- Stephen Wolfram, A New Kind of Science.

This thrilled me! Someone else is thinking in a manner like me and he also gives me a principle to work with in the form of rule 110 (cellular automata [3]) which can run with Mathematica. But what about computing power?

Coincidently I stumbles in 2001 on the Hypercomputer [4]. The advancement and flexibility (The FPGA chips) of this machine is stunning. Hypercomputers are supercomputers but it (a Hypercomputer) uses much less power and space. These machines are also very rigid (it can sustain heavy damage and maintain operations) and the FGPA technology is very flexible with Star Bridge Viva programming interface. Hypercomputer are able to operate in real time and that is what we need for controlling the atom lasers…

I believe that the atom laser [5] hold the promise for true nanotech fabrication of material objects. This marvelous device was developed in 1997 by Prof. Wolfgang Ketterle of MIT [6]. This device is still crude and primitive. The first kind of ‘new’ matter created was the Bose-Einstein condensate.

The road ahead, the hurdles

There are many hurdles to overcome. The first hurdle, upgrading the European, or other Grid structures, wouldn’t be that difficult because science and business long for ever more computing power. The difficulty starts to rise with the atom lasers. Much more research is needed to study matter waves.

As far as I know, only Prof. Wolfgang Ketterle and his group are advanced studiers of this field. More funding and people studying this kind of discipline around the globe would be needed. Also, what is needed is a sustainable energy resource. To this day, investments in fusion energy, let it by hot [7], sonofusion [8] or the controversial Low Energy Nuclear Reactions [9] are much lower than those invested in the fossil fuels research.

Lastly, this kind of endeavor for creating a Creator Unit will stretch current days scientific and technology structures to the limit and beyond.


I envision a timeline like this:

2007 – We reached the level of computing power with the hypercomputer to calculate real-time cellular automatons which symbolize an atom or groups of atoms. This year would also be the start of an massive upgrade of the European DataGrid [10] with Hypercomputer and Cycs (A.I). This is laying the foundation for the Creator Unit(s).

2010 – Small but still crude atom lasers. Starting to plan the integrations of atom lasers with FPGA (with the Hypercomputer?).

2011– Experimenting with new types of atom laser and maybe creating different kinds of matter.

2012 – Maybe creating different kinds of very small material objects with more computing power and hopefully more advanced atom lasers. It could be that in 2020 we truly have a simple working Creator Unit which could create objects like a fork, wood or an other kind of material object.


Why do we need some kind of small and easy to build in the kitchen machine which is capable of creating matter in the form of material objects, let it be food, wood or water?

First of all, because today economic framework isn’t sustainable. This economic framework belongs to an era with a world population of only 500 million people. We now have 6,5 billion people. Resources have become much more scarcer, like fresh water, energy resources (fossil fuels) or fresh air and could become an luxury item which only the very rich could afford if abrupt climate change would unfold.

Secondly, our whole management and organization structure is based largely upon 18th century thinking when there were only 500 million people on earth and no material scarcity. We already see that this type of management and organization is falling apart (around the globe), let it be educational systems [11], Governments, International Institutions which are incapable of solving world problems, financial institutions – and there especially dangerous financial derivatives instruments [12, 13] – and reckless creation of global debt, etc.

Thirdly, a new kind of management and organization, which is already growing in the form of Open Source like the Linux Project (where you are not judged by the skin, looks, or dress, but at what you do… Where Martin Luther’s ‘I Have a Dream’ is starting to come true) are very successful in harnessing more than 100,000 (and some estimate that indirectly more than 400,000) people around the globe to contribute to this project. Thereby making it one of the first most successful big global projects where money isn’t the motivator and knowledge, the main resource, is free. In our material reality matter is the main resource for our everyday functioning. Lifting the material scarcity would be welcomed by probably all people on this planet. It would prepare us for creating a new kind of economic foundation which could probably adapt to rapidly change on this planet and our Solar System and the dangers that lay beyond in the Universe (asteroids, radiation etc.). It would be a turning point in Human History.

Where does it stand today?

Today the integration of the Hypercomputer and Cyc with the current Grid infrastructure will be researched and there is, among my class-fellows and educating staff, a lot of enthusiasm about the Hypercomputer. I will hopefully write my thesis in 2005 about the Hypercomputer and Cyc integration with the Grid which will be known as Enterprise Nervous System (ENS). Only a few of my class-fellows know about the plan of the Creator Unit. They haven’t read Wolframs New Kind of Science, and only a few researchers here at the University of Amsterdam have skimmed threw it, and most of them aren’t familiar with the atom laser or the Hypercomputer.

So that’s where it stands today. My last thought would be that 2050 would be a more realistic date for a fully functional Creator Unit, but if there would be a massive step up in research like fusion energy and matter waves (nanotech) then 2020 isn’t that unattainable to have simple working Creator Units.

The first thing is to spread the idea and preparing the infrastructure.

Best wishes, Joram Zutt.

<jzutt [at] science [dot] uva [dot] nl>


http://joshua.zutnet.org (Project C)

P.S. Advise, comments or ideas would be appreciated.

[1] &#147;For example, I did not know that Euclid himself did not discover geometry or even make any great new contributions to the field in terms of ways to apply it. What he is famous for is organizing the information into a coherent fashion. He was a teacher of the highest order&#133;&#148;
-- Richard Howard.

[2] http://www.wolframscience.com/.

[3] With cellular automata you cut a lot of mathematical overhead like differentials and integration calculations, thereby calculating much faster. This is very handy for a real-time approaches which is possible with the Hypercomputer.

[4] http://www.starbridgesystems.com used by, but not only, NASA at Langley. The Hypercomputer is special because it uses Viva to program Field Programmable Gateway (FPGA) chips. In the past it was an cumbersome task to program them. Now we are able to reprogram every chip more than 1000 times a second, thereby unleashing incredible computing power. For example; the HAL Hypercomputer 15, which is now an old and obsolete model, build in 2001 could run a neural simulator that had the capacity to think 25,000 times faster than the human brain (for those technical inclined: you could wipe the FPGA chips of the HAL 15 and run some kind of 3D simulation. The neural simulation isn&#146;t welded in the chips. When the 3D simulation is done, you could restore the neural simulation by opening a Viva file which contains the Neural simulation code. Viva is a 3D programmable interface and is the tool for unlocking the immense calculating power of FPGAs). Here is page two. The price of the fastest Hypercomputer HC-124 is now 700,000 dollars, the cheapest is around 150,000 dollars (2004). The HC-124 has the same calculating power as 10.000 clustered Pentium IV cpu&#146;s while using only a maximum of 900 watts. And this is just the start.

[5] "An atom laser is analogous to an optical laser, but it emits matter waves instead of electromagnetic waves."
-- Wolfgang Ketterle.

The Atom Laser.

[6] Matter waves - Alkali Quantum Gases @ MIT.

[7] ITER.

[8] Experts Say New Desktop Fusion Claims Seem More Credible.


[10] The DataGrid Project and World Grid.

[11] &#147;We are at a critical moment in the history of human learning, and in the history of humans.&#148;
-- Prof. Alfred Bork.

Prof. Alfred Bork has very practical solutions of a new framework for education whereby computers would be the tutors and therefore the possibly of customized learning for every individual on earth, from &#145;young&#146; to &#145;old&#146;. No more dreadfull lessons or falling a sleep at a reading. But interactive knowledge gathering where the pass of learning could be enhanced greatly.
http://www.ics.uci.edu/~bork/ (his posts on forum High Noon, 20 global problems 20 years to solve them: http://www.rischard.net/forums/forumdisplay.php3?forumid=5)

[12] Bankrupt.

[13] Warren Buffet calls derivates &#145;weapons of mass destruction&#146;.

- High Noon, 20 global problems, 20 years to solve them by J.F. Rischard -

"The history of all sciences warns us that the simplest discoveries have been rejected a priori, as being incompatible with science."

· Medical anesthesia was denied by Majendie.

· The action of microbes was contested for twenty years by all the scientists of all the academies.

· Galileo was imprisoned for saying that the earth revolves.

· Bouillaud declared that the telephone was but ventriloquism.

· Lavoisier said that stones cannot fall from the sky, for there are no stones in the sky.

· The circulation of the blood was only admitted after forty years of sterile discussion.

· In a lecture in 1827 at the Academy of Sciences, my great-grandfather, P. S. Girard, considered it folly to suppose that water could be led to the upper floors of houses by pipes.

· In 1840, J. Muller declared that the speed of nerve-impulses could never be measured.

· In 1699, Papin constructed the first steamboat; a hundred years later Fulton rediscovered the possibility of steam navigation, but it was not applied till twenty years later.

· When in 1892, under the guidance of my distinguished master, Marey, I made my first attempt in aviation, I met with only incredulity, contempt, and sarcasm. A volume might be written on the absurd criticisms with which every great discovery has been received.&#148;

-- Charles Richet, PhD (from Thirty Years of Psychical Research BEING A Treatise on Metapsychics page 6 and 7).