Monday, May 30, 2011


For those who have been hiding under a rock the exoplanet, Gliese 581, was discovered by the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey.  Humanity has discovered 371 stars with one known planet and 53 stars with multiple planets.  The interesting thing about the Gliese system is that it has 6 planets orbiting its star and 2 of them could be in the habitable zone.  The habitable zone is the distance from a star in which a planet could have liquid water, and therefore life.  The planet that is most centered in this habitable zone is Gliese 581, also known as Zarmina, in honor of the researchers wife who first discover the planet.  Gliese 581 appears to be tidal locked which means that it doesn’t rotate like Earth does.  One side of the planet is always night and the other is always day, much like the moon.  See the bullets below for more info about the planet.  More information can also be found at, NASA, and wikipedia.
  • 20.5 Light years away (120 million miles)
  • Orbits a low energy Red Dwarf called Gliese 581, which outputs about 1/3 of our sun’s power
  • Gliese 581g, if it rotates at all, turns only minimally. This means one side of the planet is always night, and cold (-25 degrees F) and the other side always hot (160 degrees F) , while the terminator, where the two sides meet, may be ideal for life forms of our type.
  • Gliese 581g is about 14 million miles from its star (Earth is 93 million miles from our sun)
  • Terrain is considered rocky
  • Gliese 581g orbits its sun every 37 days (Earth orbits its sun every 365 days)
  • Gliese 581g is 3-4x the mass of Earth, which could mean slightly higher gravity
  • Gliese 581g has a radius of 1.3 to 2x that of Earth’s

The Path Toward Artificial Intelligence

How will AI come into being? 


Is a totally programmed A.I. a prerequisite to the Singularity? I for one don’t think so. I believe that in the future we will have the ability to map the brain so thoroughly that the result will be artificial intelligence. This is different from actually programming from the ground up. The digitized version of a human brain would initially, at least, have limitations and advantages that purely programmed artificial intelligence would not possess. These limitations may include biases, prejudices, and fears based in the material plane that would no longer have any practical application. The advantages may include a moral code that is based on a life lived in our society. These limitations may be quickly overcome by access to all of the worlds amassed knowledge in the blink of an eye. It’s amazing to think of how quickly it, and others like it, could change the world.

Thank you,
Christopher W. Clark

Computer Evolved Antenna

The Evolution of an Antenna

With a little help from NASA Engineers (Evolvable Systems Group), a computer program designed an antenna for nano-satellite communication.  The goal of ST-5’s mission is to develop small tv sized satellites that can replace large conventional sized satellites.  One problem they faced was the development of a small antenna capable of doing everything the larger antennas can do. 
A novel approach was used to find the best antenna design, evolution.  The evolution of the antenna was done inside a computer. Many random designs were tested in a computer simulation.  The computer judged their performance against certain goals for the design: efficiency, a narrow or wide broadcast angle, frequency range, and so on.
As in nature, only the best performers were kept, and these served as parents of a new generation. To make the new generation, the traits of the best designs were randomly mixed by the computer to produce fresh, new designs-just as a father and mother's genes are mixed to make unique children. This new generation was again tested in the computer simulation, and the best designs became the parents of yet another generation.

This process was repeated thousands, millions of times, until it settled onto an optimal, shark-like design that wouldn't improve any further. With today's fast computers, millions of generations can be simulated in only a day or so.

The result: an excellent antenna with an odd shape no human would, or could, design.

What is the Singularity?


 I was writing a couple of articles and referenced the "Singularity" in them.  I received an email question about what is the Singularity.  So here you go, straight from the horses mouth.  The Singularity described by the Singularity Institute.

What is the Singularity?

The Singularity is the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence. There are several technologies that are often mentioned as heading in this direction. The most commonly mentioned is probably Artificial Intelligence, but there are others: direct brain-computer interfaces, biological augmentation of the brain, genetic engineering, ultra-high-resolution scans of the brain followed by computer emulation. Some of these technologies seem likely to arrive much earlier than the others, but there are nonetheless several independent technologies all heading in the direction of the Singularity – several different technologies which, if they reached a threshold level of sophistication, would enable the creation of smarter-than-human intelligence.
A future that contains smarter-than-human minds is genuinely different in a way that goes beyond the usual visions of a future filled with bigger and better gadgets. Vernor Vinge originally coined the term "Singularity" in observing that, just as our model of physics breaks down when it tries to model the singularity at the center of a black hole, our model of the world breaks down when it tries to model a future that contains entities smarter than human.
Human intelligence is the foundation of human technology; all technology is ultimately the product of intelligence. If technology can turn around and enhance intelligence, this closes the loop, creating a positive feedback effect. Smarter minds will be more effective at building still smarter minds. This loop appears most clearly in the example of an Artificial Intelligence improving its own source code, but it would also arise, albeit initially on a slower timescale, from humans with direct brain-computer interfaces creating the next generation of brain-computer interfaces, or biologically augmented humans working on an Artificial Intelligence project.
Some of the stronger Singularity technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and brain-computer interfaces, offer the possibility of faster intelligence as well as smarter intelligence. Ultimately, speeding up intelligence is probably comparatively unimportant next to creating better intelligence; nonetheless the potential differences in speed are worth mentioning because they are so huge. Human neurons operate by sending electrochemical signals that propagate at a top speed of 150 meters per second along the fastest neurons. By comparison, the speed of light is 300,000,000 meters per second, two million times greater. Similarly, most human neurons can spike a maximum of 200 times per second; even this may overstate the information-processing capability of neurons, since most modern theories of neural information-processing call for information to be carried by the frequency of the spike train rather than individual signals. By comparison, speeds in modern computer chips are currently at around 2GHz – a ten millionfold difference – and still increasing exponentially. At the very least it should be physically possible to achieve a million-to-one speedup in thinking, at which rate a subjective year would pass in 31 physical seconds. At this rate the entire subjective timespan from Socrates in ancient Greece to modern-day humanity would pass in under twenty-two hours.
Humans also face an upper limit on the size of their brains. The current estimate is that the typical human brain contains something like a hundred billion neurons and a hundred trillion synapses. That's an enormous amount of sheer brute computational force by comparison with today's computers – although if we had to write programs that ran on 200Hz CPUs we'd also need massive parallelism to do anything in realtime. However, in the computing industry, benchmarks increase exponentially, typically with a doubling time of one to two years. The original Moore's Law says that the number of transistors in a given area of silicon doubles every eighteen months; today there is Moore's Law for chip speeds, Moore's Law for computer memory, Moore's Law for disk storage per dollar, Moore's Law for Internet connectivity, and a dozen other variants.
By contrast, the entire five-million-year evolution of modern humans from primates involved a threefold increase in brain capacity and a sixfold increase in prefrontal cortex. We currently cannot increase our brainpower beyond this; in fact, we gradually lose neurons as we age. (You may have heard that humans only use 10% of their brains. Unfortunately, this is a complete urban legend; not just unsupported, but flatly contradicted by neuroscience.) An Artificial Intelligence would be different. Some discussions of the Singularity suppose that the critical moment in history is not when human-equivalent AI first comes into existence but a few years later when the continued grinding of Moore's Law produces AI minds twice or four times as fast as human. This ignores the possibility that the first invention of Artificial Intelligence will be followed by the purchase, rental, or less formal absorption of a substantial proportion of all the computing power on the then-current Internet – perhaps hundreds or thousands of times as much computing power as went into the original Artificial Intelligence.
But the real heart of the Singularity is the idea of better intelligence or smarter minds. Humans are not just bigger chimps; we are better chimps. This is the hardest part of the Singularity to discuss – it's easy to look at a neuron and a transistor and say that one is slow and one is fast, but the mind is harder to understand. Sometimes discussion of the Singularity tends to focus on faster brains or bigger brains because brains are relatively easy to argue about compared to minds; easier to visualize and easier to describe. This doesn't mean the subject is impossible to discuss; section III of our "Levels of Organization in General Intelligence" does take a stab at discussing some specific design improvements on human intelligence, but that involves a specific theory of intelligence, which we don't have room to go into here.
However, that smarter minds are harder to discuss than faster brains or bigger brains does not show that smarter minds are harder to build – deeper to ponder, certainly, but not necessarily more intractable as a problem. It may even be that genuine increases in smartness could be achieved just by adding more computing power to the existing human brain – although this is not currently known. What is known is that going from primates to humans did not require exponential increases in brain size or thousandfold improvements in processing speeds. Relative to chimps, humans have threefold larger brains, sixfold larger prefrontal areas, and 98. 4% similar DNA; given that the human genome has 3 billion base pairs, this implies that at most twelve million bytes of extra "software" transforms chimps into humans. And there is no suggestion in our evolutionary history that evolution found it more and more difficult to construct smarter and smarter brains; if anything, hominid evolution has appeared to speed up over time, with shorter intervals between larger developments.
But leave aside for the moment the question of how to build smarter minds, and ask what "smarter-than-human" really means. And as the basic definition of the Singularity points out, this is exactly the point at which our ability to extrapolate breaks down. We don't know because we're not that smart. We're trying to guess what it is to be a better-than-human guesser. Could a gathering of apes have predicted the rise of human intelligence, or understood it if it were explained? For that matter, could the 15th century have predicted the 20th century, let alone the 21st? Nothing has changed in the human brain since the 15th century; if the people of the 15th century could not predict five centuries ahead across constant minds, what makes us think we can outguess genuinely smarter-than-human intelligence?
Because we have a past history of people making failed predictions one century ahead, we've learned, culturally, to distrust such predictions – we know that ordinary human progress, given a century in which to work, creates a gap which human predictions cannot cross. We haven't learned this lesson with respect to genuine improvements in intelligence because the last genuine improvement to intelligence was a hundred thousand years ago. But the rise of modern humanity created a gap enormously larger than the gap between the 15th and 20th century. That improvement in intelligence created the entire milieu of human progress, including all the progress between the 15th and 20th century. It is a gap so large that on the other side we find, not failed predictions, but no predictions at all.
Smarter-than-human intelligence, faster-than-human intelligence, and self-improving intelligence are all interrelated. If you're smarter that makes it easier to figure out how to build fast brains or improve your own mind. In turn, being able to reshape your own mind isn't just a way of starting up a slope of recursive self-improvement; having full access to your own source code is, in itself, a kind of smartness that humans don't have. Self-improvement is far harder than optimizing code; nonetheless, a mind with the ability to rewrite its own source code can potentially make itself faster as well. And faster brains also relate to smarter minds; speeding up a whole mind doesn't make it smarter, but adding more processing power to the cognitive processes underlying intelligence is a different matter.
But despite the interrelation, the key moment is the rise of smarter-than-human intelligence, rather than recursively self-improving or faster-than-human intelligence, because it's this that makes the future genuinely unlike the past. That doesn't take minds a million times faster than human, or improvement after improvement piled up along a steep curve of recursive self-enhancement. One mind significantly beyond the humanly possible level would represent a Singularity. That we are not likely to be dealing with "only one" improvement does not make the impact of one improvement any less.
Combine faster intelligence, smarter intelligence, and recursively self-improving intelligence, and the result is an event so huge that there are no metaphors left. There's nothing remaining to compare it to.
The Singularity is beyond huge, but it can begin with something small. If one smarter-than-human intelligence exists, that mind will find it easier to create still smarter minds. In this respect the dynamic of the Singularity resembles other cases where small causes can have large effects; toppling the first domino in a chain, starting an avalanche with a pebble, perturbing an upright object balanced on its tip. (Human technological civilization occupies a metastable state in which the Singularity is an attractor; once the system starts to flip over to the new state, the flip accelerates.) All it takes is one technology – Artificial Intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, or perhaps something unforeseen – that advances to the point of creating smarter-than-human minds. That one technological advance is the equivalent of the first self-replicating chemical that gave rise to life on Earth.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Google announces Android@Home -Home automation

While the press release was short on details any time Google throws it's hat in the ring it's worth noting.  The Android@home network is similar to that used by ZigBee, a low-power wireless network used for short-range home automation. I look forward to hearing more about this product and will continue to research anything that comes out about it.  There are many concerns being expressed about the "object tracking" capabilities referred to in the articles (Is your refrigerator running?  Google knows).  In the mean time here are a couple of links to see what's been released so far.,2817,2385158,00.asp

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Emotiv Epic Headset used to control home appliances

There are several new EEG Headsets that allow humans to control a computer with only the power of their minds!  The Emotiv Epic headset released over a year ago have been used in several applications that Emotiv didn't initially market them for.  Originally Emotiv sold the headsets as a gamer input device but it has received attention for it's more practical applications.  I've seen several DIY posts on where the headsets are used for controlling wheel chairs, lawn mowers, phones, and computers.  These applications are just the tip of the iceburg.  The company "Thought Wired" is using the headset in combination with NOUS automation software to do a really cool home automation presentation.  Check out the link below for information from Thought wired.  This technology will surely improve the lives of the disabled and everyone else in the years to come.

Here are a couple of links to DIY projects, with step by step instructions, that have been done using EEG headsets.  Brain controlled wheelchair and rc helicopter.

Free Bosch training

Free online Bosch training available at  They have several classes including online training.  Several of these offer CEU's after successful completion of certification tests.


I love to read and when I'm driving I love to listen to audiobooks.  See below for two free and legal websites to download audiobooks for free with no sign in required.  Most public libraries now offer audiobook downloads so check them out too.

Implant allows paralyzed man to stand and walk

Amazing results from this study that has just started.  Check out the link.  With advances in EEG headsets/computer interfaces the future is looking much brighter for the disabled.

A few thoughts on Healthcare

A person is injured in a hit and run. The suspect is never found. You walk by and find the injured person on the side of the road. You run call an ambulance. The person is rushed to the emergency room and it is found that they are severally injured. The emergency room costs alone are astounding. The ambulance took them to the same hospital you and your family go to. They are treated, released, and sent a bill. They cannot afford to pay this bill and as a result go bankrupt. You incur the cost of this the next time you go to the hospital even if you have insurance. Now this person was very badly damaged by this accident. They can’t get insurance because they have a pre-existing condition. From now on every time they need health care they go to the emergency room because they can’t be turned away.
I have tried to read the recently passed health care bill. I will admit a lot of it seems Greek to me. I am not trying to start a heated argument. I know a lot of my friends hold to a conservative ideology and I do respect them. But if this health care bill is not the answer what is? What is a common sense solution to this problem? My insurance premiums have increased 3 out the past 5 years. I am not at all happy with the system as it currently stands but I have heard no positive solutions to this from anyone. All I have heard are complaints about what the democrats are doing. Please provide the opposing position for this bill. Tort reform will not significantly decrease the cost of health care and it won’t answer the problem for our hypothetical friends in the above paragraph. If we try, we can restart a political dialog that doesn’t involve screaming matches and instead relies on common sense, respect, and reason.

Thank you,

Irish Wilderness in Missouri

I would like to pass on some information about Missouri's Irish Wilderness. The Irish Wilderness is a 16,000+ acre Wildlife area. There's no mechanized equipment allowed in this area, including bikes. The section I went to is located in Oregon County. I went to camp five pond off of hwy J. Here I found Whites creek trail. Whites Creek Trail is just less than 20 miles long. There are also other trailheads. The terrain is moderately difficult. Water is available at some locations along Whites Creek, Fiddler Spring, Eleven Point River, and Bliss Spring (Boil water of course). It is about a 7 mile hike from camp five pond to Whites Creek Float Camp. Primitive camping is allowed nearly everywhere in the Irish Wilderness. It is also possible to Float on the Eleven Point river and put into the Irish Wilderness that way. Caves are found throughout this area just a little off the trail, particularly along Whites Creek near Fiddler Spring. Large Bluffs overlook the Eleven Point River. Hunters do use this area so be wary of going during the fall hunting season. Now would be a perfect time to go though. This is the most secluded place I have been in Missouri and one of the best hikes I have every taken. Let me know if you would like further information. Topographical maps with trail are available for free at the Doniphan, MO ranger station located on Hwy 160.

Thank you,
Chris Clark

Computer Evolution by trial and error

Thoughts on Computer Evolution and it's potential uses.

The ever increasing computer power that is at our disposal has rapidly changed the world we live in and our ability to interact with it.  Often, I have researched ideas only to find that the my area of interest has not been fully researched yet.  The most recent occurrence involved a search for computer evolution.  By computer evolution I mean the ability of computers to simulate an environment, insert a central figure, test it's properties against the environment, then change the central figure piece by piece to find the best possible solution to the unique environment.  This could have a huge impact in areas of construction including architecture, aviation, nautical, automobile, etc.

We already have individual pieces to this puzzle.  Here are a few examples of software that may be utilized in the construction of a computer evolution software program.  Auto cad (Computer Aided Design or Computer Aided Drafting),  Seismic simulation software (,  Aviation software (,  Wind Tunnel/fluid dynamics software (

Using an Auto cad type software that has all of the pieces to building a high rise building in combination with Seismic simulation software have the computer evolution software run trial and error tests piece by piece to find the best possible use of materials and structural supports.  The end result being the strongest building the software can come up with or the most economical use of materials for a minimum level of stability.

Using Aviation construction software in combination with wind tunnel software have the computer evolution software run trial and error test piece by piece to find the best design for future aircraft designs.

There must be computer science researchers doing this work now.  If anyone finds any information about this please let me know.

Thank you,
Chris Clark!/profile.php?id=507948192